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Photo Credit: Joscelyn Hynes/Nebraska Communications Photo Credit: Joscelyn Hynes/Nebraska Communications

Huskers Travel to No. 7 Creighton on Sunday


Photo Credit: Joscelyn Hynes/Nebraska Communications Photo Credit: Joscelyn Hynes/Nebraska Communications

Coming off a strong performance against Boston College, the Nebraska men's basketball team heads to Omaha Sunday afternoon for the annual matchup with the seventh-ranked Creighton Bluejays. Tipoff from the CHI Health Center in Omaha is slated for 3:30 p.m. and the game will be televised nationally on FS1 and on the Huskers Radio Network.

Sunday's matchup with the No. 7 Bluejays begins a stretch of three games against top-10 teams over the next week, as Nebraska will open Big Ten Conference play at No. 10 Indiana (Wednesday) and against No. 5 Purdue (Saturday).
  

Game 9: at No. 7/7 Creighton
Date: Sun., Dec. 4
Tipoff:  3:30 p.m.
Location: Omaha, Neb.
Arena: CHI Health Center
 
On the Air
Radio: Sunday's game will be carried on the Huskers Radio Network with Kent Pavelka and Jake Muhleisen on the call, including KLIN (1400 AM) in Lincoln, KXSP (590 AM) in Omaha and KRVN (880 AM) in Lexington and will also be available on Huskers.com and the Huskers app. The pregame show begins an hour before tipoff.

TV/Online: Sunday's game will be televised nationally on FS1 with Lane Grindle and Nick Bahe on the call. The game will also be available on the Fox Sports App

The Huskers (5-3) come off one of their most efficient offensive outings in recent years in an 88-67 win over Boston College in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday. Nebraska used a 25-3 run that spanned nearly 12 minutes to take control, turning a 33-28 deficit into a 17-point cushion midway through the second half. Keisei Tominaga's 23 points off the bench led five Huskers in double figures as Nebraska shot 62 percent, including 68 percent in the second half en route to its best shooting performance since the 2014-15 season.  NU's 88 points came against an Eagle defense which entered the contest allowing 62.1 points per game. Tominaga matched his career high in points on just eight field goal attempts, as he went 4-of-5 from 3-point range as Nebraska was 12-of-23 from beyond the arc.

The return of senior Derrick Walker last week has provided a boost to the Huskers' attack, as he is averaging 15.0 points on 76 percent shooting and 10.0 rebounds per game. Walker, a 6-foot-9 forward, has two double-doubles in his three appearances and had 10 points and five rebounds in just 17 minutes in Wednesday's win over Boston College.

The Huskers will face their stiffest early-season test of the season as Creighton comes into the contest with a 6-2 record. The Bluejays are coming off a 72-67 loss at No. 2 Texas on Thursday. Ryan Kalkbrenner had 20 points and 13 rebounds while Baylor Scheierman added 13 points and 11 boards in the loss. All five Bluejay starters average double figures while Creighton comes off a stretch of playing four straight ranked opponents.

About Creighton
Creighton is 6-2 on the season and looks to snap a two-game losing streak. The Bluejays returned four starters from a team that won 23 games and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Creighton opened the year with six straight wins, including victories over No. 21 Texas Tech (76-65) and No. 9 Arkansas (90-87) before falling in the Maui Invitational title game to then No. 14 Arizona (81-79).

Creighton features a balanced attach with five players averaigng at least 11.6 points per game. The group is led by junior center Ryan Kalkbrenner, who chips in 16.6 points per game on 78 percent shooting. Sophomores Ryan Hembhard (13.3 ppg, 5.8 apg), Aruthur Kaluma (12.5 ppg) and Trey Alexander (11.6 ppg) all return from last year, and the Bluejays added South Dakota State transfer Baylor Scheierman (12.1 ppg, 9.5 rpg).

Series History: Nebraska and Creighton are meeting for the 56th time in series history on Sunday afternoon, as Creighton holds a 29-26 lead. The Bluejays have won 10 of the past 11 meetings, with the only Husker win coming
in the last meeting in Lincoln in 2018.  Nebraska will be looking for it first win in Omaha since the 2003-04 season. Sunday's game will be the fourth head coaching matchup between Nebraska's Fred Hoiberg and Creighton's Greg McDermott. Besides the last three seasons, Iowa State beat Creighton, 91-88, at the Global Sports Hy-Vee Challenge in Des Moines, Iowa on Nov. 21, 2010. 

Last season: Kobe Webster had a team-high 20 points off the bench to lead three Huskers in doubles figures, but Nebraska's slow start proved costly in a 77-69 loss to Creighton Tuesday evening at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Webster provided a spark, as the senior keyed a 21-4 first-half run that saw the Huskers cut a 19-point deficit to one late in the first half.  Nebraska stayed within striking distance the rest of the evening and was within 68-62 with 3:40 left, but Ryan Hawkins hit two straight 3-pointers o extend the Bluejay lead to 74-62 with 1:29 remaining. Hawkins finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Ryan Nembhard had a game-high 22 points and five assists to lead four CU players in double figures.
C.J. Wilcher had a career-high 15 points for the Huskers off the bench while Alonzo Verge Jr. also finished in double figures with 10 points.

Numbers 2 Know
.670 - Derrick Walker's career field goal percentage at Nebraska. He is on track to set NU's career record in that category. Larry Cox (.625, 1974-76) and Dave Hoppen (.600, 1983-86) are the only two Huskers with career field goal percentages above .600.

1.39 - Nebraska's point per possession total in the win over Boston College. It was the highest PPP for NU under NU Coach Fred Hoiberg (1.36 vs. Doane on Dec. 17, 2020) and the highest since posting a 1.40 PPP vs. Creighton on Dec. 8, 2018).

6 - Number of players averaging double figures for Nebraska in 2022-23.

10.1 - Nebraska is allowing its opponents only 10.1 free throw attempts per game. The Huskers have held four of their eight opponents to 10 free throws or less this season. NU held both Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Oklahoma to three free throw attempts. On the other hand, NU is getting to the line an average of 17.6 times per game.

Worth Noting

  • Nebraska assistant coach Ernie Zeigler will be on the opposite sideline as his son Trey, who is in his first season as a graduate assistant on the Creighton staff. Ernie coached Trey for two years at Central Michigan (2010-12) when Ernie was the head coach of the CMU program.
  • Sunday's game at No. 7 Creighton starts a stretch of three straight potential top-10 teams (No. 7 Creighton, No. 10 Indiana and No. 5 Purdue). Nebraska has never had three straight games against top-10 teams dating back to the start of the AP poll. NU played three top-10 teams in a four-game stretch between Feb. 10-21, 1990 (at No. 1 Missouri, Oklahoma State, at No. 1 Kansas, and No. 10 Oklahoma). It will be the first time since the 2020-21 season where NU played three straight ranked opponents (Dec. 22, 2020-Jan.2, 2021).
  • Nebraska comes into Sunday's game with wins in its last two games against ranked opponents dating back to last season (at No. 22 Ohio State and at No. 10 Wisconsin). A win on Sunday would be NU's third straight win against a ranked opponent, the first time that has occurred for Nebraska since a four-game win streak from Jan. 20-Feb. 10, 1999 (at No. 25 Oklahoma, No. 20 Kansas, No. 24 Missouri, at No. 24 Kansas). Nebraska will be looking for its first-ever three-game road win streak vs. ranked opponents and fifth-ever top-10 win on the road.
  • Nebraska's Sam Griesel and Creighton's Baylor Scheierman squared off for three seasons in the Summit League, as Greisel was at North Dakota State while Scheierman was at South Dakota State. Both players were first-team All-Summit League picks in 2021-22.
  • The Big Ten has six teams ranked in the Top 25 this week (Purdue-5/5; Indiana-10/8; Illinois -16/17; Michigan State-20/20; Maryland-22/22 and Ohio State-25/25) and three others (Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan) receiving votes.
  • With more of an emphasis on positional size compared to previous Hoiberg-coached Husker teams, Nebraska has made significant improvement on the defensive end despite breaking in an entirely new starting lineup. The Huskers have held seven of their eight opponents to 70 points or less and have climbed 63 spots in adjusted defense in KenPom compared to last season.  The Huskers have held five of their eight opponents to under 1.0 point per possession.
  • The biggest strides Nebraska has made has been in rebounding. NU is currently sixth in the Big Ten in rebounding margin at +5.6 per game and has been out-rebounded once in its first eight games. NU is 72nd nationally in rebounding margin after ranking 344th last year. NU has four players averaging at least 5.0 rebounds per game.
  • Nebraska's strength during the early season has been attacking the offensive glass. NU is sixth in the Big Ten lead with 12.1 offensive rebounds per game, a total which is nearly 5.0 more per game than last season. Nebraska had a season-high 18 offensive rebounds at St. John's, the Huskers' highest total since the 2018-19 season.
  • Nebraska has been balanced during the early portion of the season. Currently six Huskers are averaging double figures, led by Derrick Walker's 15.0 points per game. Since 2000-01, NU has had only four seasons with four players averaging double figures (2019-20, 2018-19, 2013-14, 2005-06). The last time NU had five players finish the season averaging double figures was the 1993-94 season.
  • Nebraska has shared the wealth during the first eight games. The Huskers have had six different players lead the team in scoring (Griesel-Maine; Wilcher-Omaha; Tominaga-St. John's and Boston College; Gary-UAPB, and OU; Bandoumel-Memphis; Walker-Florida State) and eight players score double figures at least once.
  • Nebraska has also done an excellent job of not fouling. The Huskers are fourth nationally in fewest fouls per game (11.9) as of Dec. 2. Nebraska has made more free throws (88) than its opponents have attempted (81), while one opponent (Florida State) has gotten to the line more than Nebraska in the first eight contests.
  • Nebraska has had four double-doubles in the first eight games of the season, by three different players (Juwan GaryBlaise Keita and Derrick Walker).

Last Time Out
Keisei Tominaga tied his career high with 23 points off the bench as Nebraska cruised past Boston College, 88-67, in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge Wednesday night.

The Huskers shot a blistering 62 percent from the field, their highest mark the 2014-15 season. Nebraska used a 23-2 spurt over a 12-minute span to turn a 34-30 deficit into a 17-point lead with just over 11 minutes remaining and cruised to a 21-point win.
Tominaga's second career 20-point game keyed five Huskers in double figures. C.J. Wilcher scored all 14 of his points in the second half, while Emmanuel Bandoumel (12), Juwan Gary (10) and Derrick Walker (10) all reached double figures. Nebraska also knocked down a season-high 12 3-pointers, including four each from Tominaga and Wilcher.

Postgame Notes vs. Boston College

  • With the win, Nebraska improved to 6-6 all-time in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and earned its first win in the event since 2018.
  • Nebraska shot 61.5 percent from the floor, its highest total since shooting 62.8 percent against Northwestern on Feb. 3, 2015.
  • Nebraska's 88 points was a season-high and highest total since scoring 93 at Penn State on Feb. 27, 2022.
  • Keisei Tominaga tied a career high with 23 points, matching his 23-point effort last season against South Dakota on Nov. 27, 2021. It marked Tominaga's second career 20-point game. His 23 was a season high for any Husker this season..
  • NU put five players in double figures for the second straight game.
  • Nebraska out-rebounded Boston College, 29-26, the fourth straight game NU out-rebounded an opponent.

Efficient Night vs. Boston College
Nebraska averaged 1.39 points per possession in Wednesday's win over Boston College, marking the highest total in Fred Hoiberg's four seasons. Boston College entered the game allowing just over 62 points per game and ranking in the top 75 nationally in defensive efficiency. NU's 88 points were the most points the Eagles allowed in regulation since UNC scored 91 on Jan. 2, 2022.

NU's Highest Points Per Possession Since 2019-20

PPP Opponent Date
1.39 Boston College 11/30/22
1.36 Doane 12/17/22
1.35 at Penn State 2/27/22
1.29 McNeese State 11/25/20
1.29 Arkansas Pine-Bluff 11/20/22

 
Trio of Transfers Making Impact
Nebraska added three Division I transfers in the offseason in Sam Griesel (North Dakota State), Emmanuel Bandoumel (SMU) and Juwan Gary (Alabama). The trio combined for nearly 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in their college careers before enrolling at NU and have made major contributions early on.  They've combined for 30.7 points, 17.0 rebounds and 9.1 assists per game in NU's first eight contests.

Griesel, a Lincoln native, has enjoyed quite the homecoming, as he is averaging 10.5 points, 4.6 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game. He tops NU in assists and is second with 1.3 steals per game from his point guard spot. The Huskers' first scholarship recruit from the state since Jake Muhleisen in the early 2000s, Griesel comes off one of his best games of the year against Florida State when he scored nine of his 13 points in a decisive 13-2 surge and dished out a season-high nine assists.  Against Maine, Griesel scored a season-high 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds while also chipping in 18 points against Omaha. Griesel's 22-point effort against Maine was one of the highest-scoring debuts by a Husker in the last 50 seasons.

Bandoumel has been steady on both ends of the court, averaging 10.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game while also pacing NU's effort on the defensive end. Bandoumel, who played off the ball for most of his time at SMU, has nearly a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio following a six-assist effort against Boston College. He had 18 points and five assists in the loss against Memphis on Nov. 15 and also had 13 points and five dimes against Oklahoma on Nov. 24. He enjoyed his best game against Omaha with 18 points, including a pair of 3-pointers in
NU's game-opening 11-0 run. His on-ball pressure on opposing guards has helped with NU's defensive efforts early on in the season. Bandoumel averaged double figures in his final two years at SMU.

Gary, who can be used on the wing or in the post when NU goes small, has been a disruptive force on both ends, as he averages 10.1 points, 6.1 rebound and a team-high 1.8 steals per game. He is eighth in the Big Ten in offensive rebounds at 2.5 per game. Gary had 16 points and seven rebounds against Oklahoma. He posted a double-double against Maine with 14 points and 11 boards, while he matched his career high with 11 rebounds in the loss to St. John's.

If history is any indication, it will be likely that one of these three will pace NU in scoring, as a newcomer has topped the Husker scoring chart in each of the three seasons under Fred Hoiberg. Of the eight players who have averaged double figures under Hoiberg, all eight have been in their first year of competition at Nebraska.
 
Walker Looks to Continue Efficient Shooting
Nebraska returns one of the most efficient big men in college basketball in Derrick Walker. The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 9.5 points per game on 68.3 percent shooting from the field in 2021-22. He broke NU's single-season field-goal percentage that was held by Larry Cox since the 1975-76 season.

Walker, who missed NU's first five games, made his debut on Nov. 24, and has provided an inside scoring threat. He is averaging 15.0 points per game on 76 percent shooting along with 10.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. He had 15 points and 12 rebounds in the loss to Memphis before putting together a career night against Florida State. Against the Seminoles, Walker hit 10-of-12 shots from the field en route to his first career 20-point game and added 13 rebounds and four assists.

  • Over his last five games dating back to last season, Walker is averaging 15.2 points and 8.8 rebounds per contest while the five straight games in double figures matches the longest stretch of his career.
  • Last season, Walker was the only Big Ten player and one of just 14 players in Division I to shoot at least 65 percent and average at least eight points per game.

Tominaga Continues Strong Play
After a summer with the Japanese National Team, junior Keisei Tominaga continued his strong play during the opening stretch of the season. Tominaga, a 6-foot-2 guard, has been a spark off the bench, ranking second on the team in scoring at 11.8 points per game while averaging just over 20 minutes per contest.

  • Tominaga is second on the team with 15 3-pointers and is shooting a team-best 42 percent from long range.
  • He comes off the best performance of his career in NU's win over Boston College. He tied his career high of 23 points on just eight field goal attempts (7-8 FG, 4-5 3PT; 5-5 FT) for his second career 20-point game. He had 17 of his 23 markers in the first half, including 11 straight NU points.
  • Tominaga has been in double figures five times this season, including a team-high 15 points at St. John's and a 19-point effort against Maine. In that game, he connected on 7-of-12 shots from the field, including a trio of 3-pointers, and added two rebounds and a blocked shot in 20 minutes.
  • He averaged 10.0 ppg during the three games in the ESPN Events Invitational, including a 13-point effort in the win over Florida State.
  • Of Tominaga's 12 double-figure games at Nebraska, nine have come off the bench, including his other 23-point game against South Dakota last season.
  • Over the summer, Tominaga was with the Japanese National Team, making his debut in the FIBA World Cup Asia qualifier in early July and then starred for Japan in the 2022 Asia Cup. In seven games with the Senior National Team, Tominaga averaged 15.9 points per game while shooting 39.3 percent from the 3-point line. His best performance came against Australia in the Asia Cup quarterfinals, when he poured in 33 points on 12-of-20 shooting, including 8-of-15 from 3-point range.

Wilcher Breaks Out
Sophomore C.J. Wilcher was one of the Big Ten's top scoring sixth men last year and has moved into the starting lineup in 2022-23. The 6-foot-5 guard is third on the team in scoring at 11.3 points per game while shooting 44 percent from the field and 41 percent from 3-point range.

  • Wilcher scored all 14 of his points in the second half in the win over Boston College, including a quartet of 3-pointers.
  • He had 13 points in NU's win over Floria State, including a trio of 3-pointers. Wilcher also had three assists in the win.
  • Wilcher was efficient in NU's win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff with 15 points and three assists on just nine shots. Wilcher was 3-of-3 from 3-point range, the second time this season he had at least three 3-pointers.
  • He posted a career-high 21 points against Omaha on 8-of-12 shooting, including four 3-pointers. It marked the first 20-point game of his career.
  • Last season, he closed the season playing some of his best basketball, shooting 60 percent from the field, including 50 percent from 3-point range, over NU's final five games. In Big Ten play last season, he shot a team-best 43.0 percent from beyond the arc. 

Revamped Husker Coaching Staff
In addition to nine new faces on the Husker roster (six scholarship players and three walk-ons), the Husker staff also has several new faces this season.

  • Assistant Coach Adam Howard comes to Nebraska after spending the last four seasons at South Alabama, helping the program to 75 wins in that span after the program had seven straight losing seasons. Last year, South Alabama won 21 games, the school's highest total since 2008. Howard also coached at Troy, Tennessee, Southern Miss and Morehead State after playing collegiately at Western Kentucky.
  • Assistant Coach Ernie Zeigler comes to Lincoln after spending six years on Ben Howland's staff at Mississippi State. The Bulldogs had four postseason appearances between 2018-22. Zeiger spent six seasons as the head coach at Central Michigan (2007-12) and previously served stints at UCLA, Pittsburgh, Kansas State, Detroit and Bowling Green.
  • Emmanuel Tommy joined the staff as Director of Player Development. He was an assistant coach at Alabama A&M last season and had worked on the administrative side at both McNeese State and South Alabama.
  • Two familiar faces in new positions are graduate managers Michael Bania and Payden Borders, both of whom worked as managers in the Husker program. Both graduated from Nebraska last May. 

A Change of Pace
One typical trait of a Fred Hoiberg coached team is to play at a fast pace. The Huskers led the Big Ten in pace in each of the last three seasons according to KenPom, including top-20 rankings in 2019-20 (16th) and 2021-22 (19th). NU has been the only Big Ten team to rank in the top-50 in any of the past three seasons.

  • The 2022-23 team has been completely different, as NU is 309th nationally in pace entering this weekend's action. NU has had just two games with 70+ possessions in the first eight contests (St. John's and Florida State).

 Playing with Pace (Adjusted Tempo per KenPom)

Year Hoiberg-Coached Team Big Ten Leader
2010-11 Iowa State (34th) Iowa (100th)
2011-12 Iowa State (128th) Iowa (70th)
2012-13 Iowa State (30th) Iowa (95th)
2013-14 Iowa State (12th) Iowa (29th)
2014-15 Iowa State (10th) Minnesota (47th)
2019-20 Nebraska (16th) Same
2020-21 Nebraska (35th) Same
2021-22 Nebraska (19th) Same
2021-22 Nebraska (309th) Illinois (15th)

 
Husker Roster Has International Flavor
Nebraska's 2022-23 roster has an international flavor, as it features a quartet of international players in Emmanuel Bandoumel (Canada), Blaise Keita (Mali), Keisei Tominaga (Japan) and Oleg Kojenets (Lithuania). During Fred Hoiberg's four seasons at Nebraska, the Huskers have had players from nine countries (Australia, Canada, England, France, Iceland, Japan, Lithuania, Mali and Slovenia).
 
Three Huskers on NBA Rosters in 2022-23
Nebraska is well represented on NBA Opening Night rosters with Isaiah Roby (San Antonio), Dalano Banton (Toronto) and Bryce McGowens (Charlotte). The group is joined by Tyronn Lue, who begins his third season as head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers.

  • Nebraska's three active NBA players is the most since the 2007-07 season (Eric Piatkowski, Mikki Moore and Lue)
  • McGowens became the 15th former Husker to make his NBA debut on Oct. 19, as he saw action in Charlotte's win over San Antonio.
  • Four members of the 2021-22 team are playing professionally, including Bryce McGowens (NBA), Lat Mayen (Australia), Alonzo Verge Jr. (Poland) and Kobe Webster (Netherlands).
  • In all, 24 former Huskers are playing professionally around the world, including 10 players from Hoiberg's first three Husker teams.


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