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No. 24/23 Huskers Ring in 2019 at Maryland | KRVN Radio

No. 24/23 Huskers Ring in 2019 at Maryland

No. 24/23 Huskers Ring in 2019 at Maryland
Isaac Copeland Jr. and the Huskers travel to Maryland on Wednesday evening. Photo by Allyssa Hynes/Nebraska Communications
The Nebraska men’s basketball team resumes Big Ten Conference action on Wednesday, as the Huskers travel to College Park, Md., for a matchup with the Maryland Terrapins.
Tipoff at the XFINITY Center is set for 5:30 p.m. (central) and the matchup will be televised nationally on BTN with Kevin Kugler and Seth Davis on the call. Wednesday’s game will also be available on BTN.com and the BTN2Go and Fox Sports Go apps with cable authentication.
Fans can follow all of the action across the state of Nebraska on the IMG Husker Sports Network with Kent Pavelka and Jake Muhleisen on the call. The game will also be available on Huskers.com, on the Huskers app, on TuneIn Radio and the TuneIn Radio app and on XM radio. The pregame show begins one hour prior to tipoff on many of the Husker Sports Network affiliates (affiliate list on page 7 of the game notes).
The Huskers start 2019 with an 11-2 record following a 79-38 win over Southwest Minnesota State on Dec 29. In that game, James Palmer Jr. and Glynn Watson Jr. had 16 points apiece, as Nebraska held SMSU to 30 percent shooting and never trailed. Nebraska used its bench extensively, as all 10 players who dressed broke into the scoring column.
Nebraska returned to the AP poll on Monday morning, as the Huskers were ranked 24th after a one-week absence. NU is now tied with Wisconsin at No. 23 in the USA Today Coaches poll, as NU has been ranked in the coaches poll for five straight weeks.
The Huskers have been powered by the senior trio of James Palmer Jr., Isaac Copeland Jr. and Glynn Watson Jr., as they combine for nearly 48 points per game. Palmer is second in the Big Ten in scoring at 19.2 points per game, while both Copeland (14.5 ppg) and Watson (13.6 ppg) are on pace for career highs. It is a big reason that Nebraska is averaging 80.2 points per game in its first 13 games and has scored at least 75 points in each of its last six contests.
Maryland comes into Wednesday’s game with a 10-3 record following a 78-64 win over Radford on Saturday. Bruno Fernando finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds to lead for Terrapins in double figures. Fernando leads the Big Ten in field goal percentage (.702) and blocked shots (2.5 bpg) while ranking third in the Big Ten in rebounding (9.6 rpg).
Wednesday’s game begins a busy week, as the Huskers trek to No. 25/20 Iowa on Sunday. Tipoff is at 4:30 p.m
OPENING NUMBER
22.0 – James Palmer Jr. is averaging 22.0 points per game over Nebraska’s last six games. Palmer is shooting 56 percent from 3-point range and 90 percent from the foul line over that stretch.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
2 – Maryland natives on the Husker roster (James Palmer Jr., Upper Marlboro; Amir Harris, Frederick).
6 – Glynn Watson Jr. was the sixth Husker in the last 20 years to record at least 10 assists per game with his 10 assist performance vs. Cal State Fullerton on Dec. 22, joining Lance Jeter, Cookie Miller, Charles Richardson, Jake Muhleisen and Cookie Belcher.
10 – Number of 20-point games for Husker players in 2018-19. James Palmer Jr. has six while Isaac Copeland Jr. (two), Glynn Watson Jr. (one) and Isaiah Roby (one) also enjoyed 20-point games.
14 – The Huskers have had 17 runs of at least 10-0 in 2018-19, including a 22-0 run against Southeastern Louisiana. The Huskers have allowed three double-figure runs this season.
57.8 – Nebraska is seventh nationally in scoring defense, holding teams to 57.8 points per game. NU has held six of its 13 opponents to their lowest total of the season.
80.2 – NU’s scoring average is the highest after 13 games since the 1995-96 team averaged 89.5 ppg in that timeframe.
SCOUTING MARYLAND
Maryland comes into Tuesday’s game with a 10-3 record and have won three of their last four games since splitting its two Big Ten games in early December. Coach Mark Turgeon’s team is a young, but talented squad that starts four freshmen or sophomores around third-year starter Anthony Cowan Jr.  In all, five of Maryland’s top six scorers are freshmen or sophomores. The Terps, who saw their streak of three straight NCAA appearances end last season, opened the year with six straight wins before falling to Virginia by five points at the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Maryland split its first two Big Ten games, knocking off Penn State at home before losing by two at Purdue, while the only other loss came in a four-point setback to Seton Hall on Dec. 22.
Maryland’s strength is the inside game with sophomore Bruno Fernando and freshman Jalen Smith, as the duo helps Maryland out-rebound opponents by nearly 12 rebounds per game. Fernando averages 14.5 points and 9.6 rebounds per game, as he leads the Big Ten in field goal percentage (.702) and blocked shots (2.5 bpg). Smith, a McDonald’s All-American, has been one of the Big Ten’s top freshmen, averaging 11.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per contest. Cowan leads Maryland in scoring (16.5 ppg) and assists (4.5 apg) but has been playing off the ball with the development of freshman guard Eric Ayala (9.2 ppg, 3.3 apg).
SERIES HISTORY
Wednesday’s meeting is the seventh meeting between the two teams, all since the Terrapins joined the Big Ten in 2014-15. Maryland leads the series, 4-2, with five of the six previous meetings decided by five points or less. In Nebraska’s last trip to College Park, the Huskers overcame a 13-point second-half deficit to post a 67-65 win.  The Huskers do have some history with Mark Turgeon, going 2-3 against him when he served as head coach at Texas A&M from 2007-08 to 2010-11. Both of NU’s wins came over ranked Texas A&M teams, including a 65-59 win over the No. 22 Aggies in College Station in 2008 and a 57-48 victory over No. 13 Texas A&M in Lincoln in 2011.
Last season: James Palmer Jr. had a game-high 26 points, including 24 in the second half, to lead Nebraska to a 70-66 victory. Palmer, who tied a school record with 24 second-half points, also led NU with five assists. Isaiah Roby added a game-high 10 rebounds and finished with 11 points, while Isaac Copeland added nine points and nine boards.
LAST TIME OUT
James Palmer Jr. and Glynn Watson Jr. had 16 points apiece, as Nebraska closed out non-conference action with a 79-38 victory over Southwest Minnesota State on Dec. 29.
The Huskers jumped out to a 12-0 lead and never looked back in posting their 19th consecutive home win. Nebraska finished non-conference action with a 10-1 mark, its best mark since
2003-04 and the fourth time since World War II that the Huskers had one non-conference loss.
Palmer finished with 16 points, five assists and six rebounds, while Watson had 16 points, five boards, four assists and four steals to lead four Huskers in double figures, as all 10 players who dressed got in the scoring column. Isaac Copeland Jr. had 12 points while Thomas Allen added 10 as no Husker played more than 28 minutes.
Nebraska got out to a blistering start behind the play of Copeland, as the senior keyed a 12-0 spurt in the first 3:12 with five of his seven first-half points. Nebraska later added another 13-0 surge in the first half en route to building a 37-18 halftime lead.
WORTH NOTING
  • Nebraska is one of five teams in Division I ranked in the top 25 nationally in field goal defense, 3-point defense and scoring defense through Dec. 30, a list which also includes Virginia, Houston, Pittsburgh and Texas Tech. Those five teams are a combined 56-6 (.903) on the season.
  • A win on Wednesday would give the Huskers their best 14-game mark since the 1990-91 team went 13-1 en route to a school-record 26 win season. NU also went 12-2 in its first 14 games during the 1991-92, 1993-94 and 2010-11 campaigns.
  • The Big Ten is well represented in the latest NET released on Dec. 31, as 10 teams are ranked in the top 50, including six teams in the top 21 (Michigan-2; Michigan State-9; Nebraska-12; Wisconsin-13; Indiana-20; Ohio State-21).
  • One of the biggest reasons for the Huskers’ success during its current four-game win streak is 3-point shooting. The Huskers are shooting 47 percent from 3-point range (43-91) in that span.
  • Nebraska has taken good care of the basketball throughout the season. The Huskers are 12th nationally in both fewest turnovers per game (10.6) and turnover margin (+4.9). NU has committed 10 or fewer turnovers in six of the last eight contests dating back to Nov. 24. On the season, the Huskers’ four primary ball handlers (Glynn Watson Jr., Thomas Allen, James Palmer Jr. and Amir Harris) are a combined 2.2-to-1 in assist-to-turnover ratio.
  • Nebraska enters Wednesday’s game averaging 80.2 points per game. During the previous six seasons under Head Coach Tim Miles, NU’s highest points per game after 13 games was 75.5 ppg set last season.
  • The Huskers finished non-conference action with a 10-1 mark, including wins over Seton Hall, Clemson, Creighton and Oklahoma State. It marked just the fourth time since World War II that the Huskers finished non-conference play with one loss (10-1, 2003-04; 12-1, 1991-92; and 11-1, 1977-78).
  • Glynn Watson Jr. comes into the Maryland game in 18th place on NU’s career scoring list with 1,218 points. He is five points shy of passing Larry Florence (1,223) for 18th place on NU’s scoring list. Watson is also three steals shy of sixth place on NU’s steals list (Brian Carr, 159).
DOING IT WITH DEFENSE
For Nebraska, the biggest thing over the last two seasons – a stretch where the Huskers are 33-13 – has been improvements on the defensive end.
Last season, NU went from 13th to sixth in the Big Ten in field goal percentage defense and from 14th to second in 3-point percentage defense. NU ranked in the top-75 nationally in both field goal defense (74th) and 3-point percentage defense (32nd) last season.  That has continued during 2018-19 season.
  • After 13 games, Nebraska ranks in the top-25 nationally in scoring defense (57.8 ppg, seventh), field goal defense (.374, 11th) and 3-point defense (.254, fifth). The Huskers also lead the Big Ten in steals (8.6 spg) and are third in blocked shots (4.9 bpg).
  • Only one opponent has shot over 50 percent against Nebraska in the last 38 games dating back to last season. In 2018-19, NU has held 12 of its 13 opponents under 50 percent shooting.
  • NU limited nine of its 13 opponents to under 0.85 points per possession. Mississippi Valley State and Southeastern Louisiana were held to 0.47 points per possession, the lowest number in Tim Miles’ seven years at NU. On the season, the Huskers are 30th in Kenpom’s adjusted defense through Dec. 30.
  • The Huskers have held six opponents to their lowest offensive total of the season.
  • Under Miles, the Huskers are 49-5 (.907) when holding opponents under 60 points.
HUSKER OFFENSE GETS INTO HIGH GEAR
Nebraska comes into the Maryland game averaging 80.2 points per game after averaging 72.3 points per game last year.  NU has scored at least 70 points in 11 of 13 contests, including six games of at least 80 points.
  • Nebraska is 15th nationally in offensive efficiency according to KenPom through Dec. 30. In the KenPom era, only the 2003-04 team (25th) ranked in the top-50 nationally in offensive efficiency.
  • Nebraska’s 80.2 points per game would rank sixth in school history and is on pace to be the Huskers’ highest single-season average since 1995-96 (80.2 ppg). Nebraska has averaged 80+ points six times in school history, all coming in a seven-year span under Danny Nee.
  • The Huskers scored 106 points in the opener against Mississippi Valley State. It was the Huskers’ highest total since scoring 107 against North Carolina A&T on Dec. 19, 2005.
  • Nebraska opened the season with four straight games scoring at least 80 points, marking the first time NU has accomplished that since the 1996 NIT.
  • Nebraska scored 94 points in the win over Creighton, its third-highest total in 52 meetings in the series.
  • NU has already had seven players score in double figures, including six against Southeastern Louisiana on Nov. 11, while four players –  James Palmer Jr., Isaac Copeland Jr., Glynn Watson Jr. and Isaiah Roby – have recorded 20-point performances.

The quick start is not surprising based on what the Huskers brought back from last year’s team that went 22-11, as Nebraska brought back its top four scorers for the first time in 15 years, including three players who averaged double figures.

  • Nebraska returned three double-figure scorers (James Palmer Jr., 17.2, Isaac Copeland Jr., 12.9 and Glynn Watson Jr., 10.5) for the first time since the 1992-93 season (Eric Piatkowski, 14.3; Derrick Chandler, 12.3; Jamar Johnson, 11.2).
  • Nebraska returned 73 percent of its scoring and 72 percent of its assists from last season. It marked the third time in the last 15 seasons that Nebraska returns at least 70 percent of its scoring from the previous season.

NEW NUMBER, SAME GAME FOR PALMER
While senior guard James Palmer Jr. switched from No. 24 to No. 0 in the offseason, the All-American candidate continues to produce at a high level. The 6-foot-6 guard is averaging 19.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.2 steals per game.

  • He is second in the Big Ten in scoring and is second on the Huskers in assists. Palmer is challenging to be the first Husker to average 20.0 ppg since Tyronn Lue in 1997-98.
  • Palmer has shown the ability to get to the free throw line, as he ranks in the top-20 nationally in both free throws (81, 13th) and attempts (97, 18th), while shooting a career best 83.5 percent from the foul line. Entering this year, Palmer was a career 72 percent shooter.
  • His Husker career scoring average of 17.9 points per game is eighth among all power conference players over the last two seasons. The Big Ten features three of the top eight with Purdue’s Carsen Edwards and Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ.
  • Palmer has reached double figures in 43 of 46 career games at Nebraska.
  • Since the loss to Texas Tech on Nov. 20, Palmer has been on a tear, averaging 21.4 points per game over the Huskers’ last eight contests, including 48 percent from 3-point range and 90 percent from the free throw line.
  • Palmer shouldered the scoring load in the win over Oklahoma State with a game-high 29 points, including 14-of-15 shooting from the foul line.
  • Palmer enjoyed one of the best performances of his career, scoring 30 points against Creighton. The effort included a career-high six 3-pointers. With that effort against the Bluejays, he became just the 16th player in school history to record multiple 30-point games.
  • He turned in a strong performance in the Huskers’ win at Clemson, scoring 14 of his 20 points in the second half and also snaring a career-high nine rebounds.
  • Finished with 29 points against Seton Hall, the third-highest scoring night in his career, as he scored 18 of his points in the second half.
Last season, Palmer averaged 17.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game in leading the Huskers to a 22-11 record and an NIT berth.  Palmer reached double figures in 31 of 33 games in his first season at Nebraska, including eight 20-point efforts. Palmer’s junior year was highlighted by a career-high 34-point effort at Ohio State. Palmer joins Purdue’s Carsen Edwards as returning first-team All-Big Ten selections by the conference coaches.
  • Palmer averaged 18.8 points per game in Big Ten play last year, which is the highest average in conference play since Aleks Maric averaged 18.9 ppg in 2006-07. It is also the most by a returning Big Ten player since Tim Frazier in 2012-13.
  • He is one of only five returning power conference players who averaged 17.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg and 3.0 apg last season.
WATSON KEYS HUSKER ATTACK
Senior Glynn Watson Jr. is in his fourth year as Nebraska’s starting guard and is putting together his best season as a Husker. He comes into the Maryland game averaging 13.6 points per game on 46 percent shooting, including 44 percent from 3-point range. He is also averaging career bests in assists (4.1 apg), rebounds (4.2 rpg) and assist-to-turnover ratio (3.3-to-1).
  • Watson’s assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.31-to-1 this season is one of the best by a Husker guard in recent memory.
  • Watson has been in double figures in 11 of 13 contests, including his first career double-double with 10 points and 10 assists in the win over Cal State Fullerton.
  • His on-ball defense has been instrumental in Nebraska ranking among the national leaders in field goal and scoring defense.
  • He guided the Husker attack in the win over Creighton with 13 points, five assists and a season-high three steals, while holding Creighton’s Ty-Shon Alexander to just 2-of-10 shooting.
  • Watson led NU with 20 points and a career-high nine boards against Western Illinois.
  • He showed his playmaking ability by dishing out eight assists and totaling 14 points in the win over Seton Hall.
  • Watson has a career 2.19-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio and has more steals (156) than turnovers (147) in his career.
  • His older brother Demetri McCamey was an All-Big Ten guard at Illinois during the 2009-10 season.
  • Watson is one of three alumni of St. Joseph to reach 1,000 points at Nebraska, joining Carl Hayes (1,136, 1990-92) and Clifford Scales (1,136, 1988-91). All three played for legendary high school coach Gene Pingatore, who is in his 50th year as coach at St. Joseph and has won over 1,000 games at the school.
ISAAC MAKES IT TOUGH FOR OPPONENTS TO COPE
Isaac Copeland Jr. is back to make the most of his senior year. The 6-foot-9 forward joined the program in January of 2017, but then was unable to practice because of a herniated disc that eventually required surgery.
Despite not being able to practice until school started, Copeland finished second on the team in scoring (12.9 ppg), rebounding (6.1 rpg) and blocked shots (1.0 bpg), setting personal bests in all three areas and earning honorable-mention All-Big Ten honors.
Copeland has improved many of his numbers in 2018-19, as he averages 14.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game while shooting 54 percent from the field.
  • Copeland has reached double figures 12 times in 13 games, including a pair of 20-point efforts. He has been in double figures in each of the last seven games, the longest stretch of his collegiate career.
  • Copeland had 16 points, five rebounds and a pair of assists in the win over Oklahoma State, keying the Huskers’ comeback in the first half with five straight points as part of an 11-2 run.
  • He topped NU in points (17) and rebounds (seven) at Minnesota, including hitting 3-of-5 from 3-point range.
  • The senior carried NU to a win at Clemson with 16 points, six boards and three assists while his biggest play was a blocked shot which led to James Palmer’s dunk after Clemson closed to within five.
  • He earned a spot on the Hall of Fame Classic All-Tournament Team, averaging 21.5 points per game on 61 percent shooting, 7.5 blocks and 3.0 assists per game. He was in double figures in both contests, including a season-high 23 points against Missouri State and 20 points and eight boards against Texas Tech.
  • Copeland collected his fifth career double-double in Nebraska’s win over Seton Hall with 18 points and 10 rebounds. He had one during his redshirt year at Georgetown (2016-17) and three in 2017-18.
  • He has 11 career 20-point games (7 at Nebraska, 4 at Georgetown), including a pair of 30-point games. Copeland had 30 points on 12-of-14 shooting against North Dakota last year and a career-high 32-point night against Marquette during his sophomore year at Georgetown.
  • A top-20 recruit coming out of high school, his 2014 Brewster Academy team also featured Donovan Mitchell (Utah), Devonte’ Graham (Charlotte) and Jonah Bolden (Philadelphia).
  • Copeland earned his undergraduate degree in sociology last May and is working on his Master’s Degree. He comes from a basketball family, as his father (Ike) played collegiately at East Carolina. As a senior, he helped East Carolina make the NCAA Tournament.
ROBY FILLS STAT SHEET
Isaiah Roby compliments the Husker attack with a unique skill set. The 6-foot-8 junior comes into the Maryland game averaging 10.1 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.5
blocks per game. He missed the Southwest Minnesota State game because of an injury.
Roby leads the Huskers in blocked shots and rebounding and is second on the team in steals. Roby is the only Big Ten player in the top-10 in blocks and steals while he is one of only seven players nationally, and three in power conferences, to average 1.5 blocks and 1.5 steals per game.
  • Among Big Ten players since 1992, only two other players (Purdue’s Brad Miller and Minnesota’s Damian Johnson) averaged 1.5 steals and blocks per game.
  • Roby has played some of his best basketball in recent games, averaging 13.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game over his last four contests. Roby has tied or set season bests in points in three of his last four appearances.
  • He comes off one of his best efforts of the year, a career-high 20-point effort against Cal State Fullerton. Roby topped his previous best of 18 points set as a sophomore at Minnesota, while also topping the Huskers with eight rebounda and two blocked shots.
  • While Roby had just five points vs. Oklahoma State, he led the Huskers in rebounding (seven) and steals (four), matching his career best in that category.
  • Roby put together his most complete game in the win over Creighton, setting season highs in points (15), rebounds (eight) and assists (four) along with a pair of blocks against the Bluejays.
  • Roby played well in the loss at Minnesota, finishing with 15 points, four rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
  • His dunk against Seton Hall on Nov. 14 marked the fourth time he’s had a top-10 play on SportsCenter at NU, including highlight dunks vs. Rutgers (2018) and at Indiana (2016).
  • Nebraska is 21-6 since moving Roby into the starting lineup midway through Big Ten play last season. Roby has all four of his career double-doubles in that stretch.
  • Roby is one of only two returning power conference players to total 50 blocks and 50 assists last season, joining Missouri’s Jontay Porter, who will miss the 2018-19 season with a torn ACL. Roby is also one of four Huskers to have 50 blocks and 50 assists in a season, joining Aleks Maric, Venson Hamilton and Rich King.
THE A TEAM: ALLEN AND AKENTEN

One of the biggest questions entering the season was who would emerge as the Huskers’ fifth starter. Sophomores Thomas Allen and Nana Akenten have shared the duties and provided the Huskers with an offensive punch.

  • Allen has started most of the season and is averaging 8.8 points per game on 51 percent shooting, including 41 percent from 3-point range, while chipping in 2.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.7 steals per game.
  • He has been playing well over the last five contests, averaging 11.3 points per game on 62 percent shooting along with 2.1 assists per game. He also has a 3.3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in that stretch.
  • Allen had a career-high 18 points, five assists and four rebounds against Creighton and had 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting against Oklahoma State after missing most of the week with an illness.
  • Akenten has started twice and is averaging 6.2 points per game on 43 percent shooting. He is shooting over 40 percent from 3-point range and has given the Huskers a pair of double-figure efforts.
  • He had a career-high 18 points off the bench against Missouri Valley State, including five 3-pointers, in just 13 minutes. He also had 11 points in the win over Missouri State and nine points in a start against Cal State Fullerton.
FILLING UP PINNACLE BANK ARENA
Pinnacle Bank Arena will be full once again in 2018-19, as the NU Athletic Ticket Office announced on September 25 that general public season tickets were sold out for the 2018-19 season. In all, nearly 15,000 season tickets have been sold for the 2018-19 season, including the Red Zone student section.
Since moving into PBA in 2013-14, the Huskers have ranked in the top-15 in attendance nationally all five years, and are one of only nine schools in the country to average 15,000+ fans per contest in that span.
PROTECTING THE VAULT
The Huskers have been strong at protecting its home court at Pinnacle Bank Arena since it opened in 2013-14.
  • NU has won its last 19 games at home following the 79-38 win over Southwest Minnesota State on Dec. 29. The win streak is the longest among power conference schools and fifth-longest home win streak nationally. It is now one shy of a school-record 20-game streak spanning the 1965-66 and 1966-67 seasons.
  • Of the 19 wins in the current streak, 14 have come by double-digits, including all eight in 2018-19.
  • NU has posted a 67-24 (.736) record in Pinnacle Bank Arena since it opened in 2013.
  • Nebraska went a perfect 9-0 at home in Big Ten play in 2017-18, the first time NU went unbeaten in conference play at home since the 1965-66 season.
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