Category Archives: Huskers News

Jays get first win in Lincoln since 1993 as small lineup causes fits

LINCOLN — Ask Creighton coach Jim Flanery about his team’s last road win against Nebraska, and he is quick to rattle off some impressive stats from the 1993 contest.

Flanery, in his second year in his second stint as an assistant at CU then, correctly recalled the final score (97-64) and added that Kris Kugel went 10 of 12 and the team shot 63 percent from the floor.

The Bluejays updated the history books with their first win in Lincoln in 24 years, a 64-49 victory Sunday night at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

“It’s been a long time since we won here, so you have to hold on to it,” Flanery said.

In the future, perhaps Flanery will be dropping Jaylyn Agnew’s stat line when recalling the 2017 version of the in-state rivalry.

The sophomore forward went 6 for 9 from 3-point range with 20 points and nine rebounds.

CU (2-1) used a small lineup that featured junior Audrey Faber, who is 6-foot-2, at center to create mismatches.

Flanery said when they go small, they try to find the person being guarded by the center and let them be the focal point of the offense. Against Nebraska, that was often Faber, who made NU pay with 14 points and eight assists.

“When we are small, the potential for (Faber) to wear down and give up some stuff in the paint is greater than with our 5s,” he said. “But we are also harder to guard when we downsize.”

Creighton started hot. It used an 11-0 run to break from a 4-4 tie.

The Huskers (3-1) closed to 21-18 with 3:36 left in the second quarter before Agnew connected on a pair a 3-pointers. Faber added a pair of free throws and another 3 to send the Jays into the locker room with a 14-point lead.

“Creighton is a bit of a mismatch for us,” NU coach Amy Williams said of the Jays’ small lineup. “They did a good job of pushing us out spacing in the low block (on offense) and making us pay. We did not do a good job with our bigs of getting out to defend the 3-point line.”

The Huskers’ offensive struggles peaked in the second quarter. NU committed six turnovers in the final five minutes of the half, including a three-second call and two offensive fouls. The Huskers tried to close the half on a positive note, but a low pass bounced off Emily Wood’s shoes and out of bounds with a second left.

“We didn’t handle adversity very well tonight,” Williams said. “Creighton did a nice job of coming in here and taking us out of what we wanted to do. It was a tough offensive night for our team.”

Hannah Whitish scored 12 of her team-high 14 points after halftime as she tried to spark NU’s offense. But the Huskers finished shooting 32.7 percent from the floor after going 7 for 28 in the first half.

“We didn’t have the pace we wanted to start the game, and it didn’t change in the second half either,” Whitish said.

Creighton (2-1)………15 17 18 14—64

At Nebraska (3-1)…….10     8 17 14—49

CU: Agnew 7-11 0-0 20, Greene 1-3 0-0 2, Faber 5-15 2-2 14, Lamberty 3-9 0-0 7, Mellman 1-3 0-0 2, Brown 2-4 0-0 4, Rembao 3-5 0-0 7, Carda 3-9 1-1 8, Kissinger 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 25-62 3-3 64.

NU: Kissinger 2-9 0-0 5, Mitchell 3-6 1-2 7, Cain 3-7 0-0 6, Whitish 5-10 2-4 14, Cincore 1-7 1-2 3, Washington 1-2 1-2 3, Blackburn 1-1 2-4 4, Eliely 1-7 2-2 4, Wood 1-2 0-0 3, Stallworth 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 18-55 9-16 49.

3-point goals: CU 11-27 (Agnew 6-9, Faber 2-6, Lamberty 1-1, Mellman 0-1, Rembao 1-2, Carda 1-6, Kissinger 0-2), NU 4-12 (Kissinger 1-3, Whitish 2-3, Cincore 0-3, Eliely 0-1, Wood 1-1, Stallworth 0-1). Rebounds: CU 39 (Agnew 9), NU 38 (Mitchell, Eliely 5). Assists: CU 16 (Faber 8), NU 11 (Kissinger, Wood 3). Total fouls: CU 15, NU 11. Fouled out: None. A: 9,750.

Nebraska men’s basketball builds big first-half leads, bounces back with win over North Dakota

LINCOLN — Nine months ago, Isaac Copeland underwent major back surgery.

Eleven months ago, Anton Gill went under the knife for a serious knee injury.

On Sunday, Nebraska’s touted transfers from Georgetown and Louisville offered proof of why the staff was so eager to get them into red and white uniforms.

Copeland scored an NU career-high 30 points and snared eight rebounds, while Gill scored an overall career-high 16 points with three rebounds and three assists as the Huskers romped past North Dakota 92-70 in front of 10,249 at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

The Raleigh, North Carolina, roommates’ 46 points was more than triple their combined scoring average coming in.

“I am just so happy for them,” coach Tim Miles said. “I know what a relief it is and how exciting it is for them. And they deserve it.

“They have worked every day. They’ve struggled without any groaning and griping. They’ve just stayed with it. Hopefully, this is the start.”

Copeland scored his 30 points in 29 minutes — 19 in the first half and 11 in the second — hitting 12 of 14 shots overall. Gill, who missed the first two games with a groin strain, bounced off the bench to hit 6 of 9 shots, including 4 of 5 3-pointers.

Those two sparked an overall 52.9 percent shooting performance (36 of 68) three days after Nebraska hit 28.1 percent in a 23-point drilling at St. John’s.

A simple message came out of a team discussion about that loss.

“We played soft,” Copeland said. “We can’t do that again.”

Smooth was the word for Copeland on Sunday against the defending Big Sky champions.

The 6-foot-9, 221-pound junior darted through the offensive end, hitting 3 of 4 3-pointers, canning a variety of short- to mid-range jumpers and pitching in with three offensive rebounds to keep possessions alive.

Such work is what Husker teammates saw semi-regularly through summer free-play and fall practices as Copeland worked to get back into basketball shape.

“I’m guarding him most every day,” said fellow forward Isaiah Roby, who had 11 points, four rebounds and four assists Sunday. “I’ve definitely seen him do this, and I know he can do it for us.”

Added Gill: “He’s been doing this his whole life. I’ve known him forever. This is him. This is what we expected.”

Copeland, who had 32 points and nine rebounds at Georgetown in a game against Marquette, said some input from home has helped him get through a slow start (31.8 percent shooting, 7.0 points per game).

“My dad calls pretty much daily to let me know to keep working and stay positive, and that it was eventually going to happen,” Copeland said. “I didn’t expect 30 points, but I’ll take it.”

As for Gill, he ruptured a patella tendon last Christmas night, which required major reconstructive surgery. The mere act of contributing Sunday left the 6-3, 195-pound senior bubbling.

“I’m just glad to be back playing after a year,” he said. “All of this feels great to be back doing something I love.”

Gill has been troubled by leg injuries since transferring from Louisville.

“I got cleared right before the season,” he said. “I just had to get my legs back. Missing those first two games was probably the best thing that happened for me. My legs feel great, I feel bouncy again. I feel like I’m getting back to myself.”

Copeland and Gill combined for 11 early points as Nebraska bolted to a 26-10 lead on North Dakota (2-2). Seven more points from Copeland helped boost NU’s margin to 45-27.

“We couldn’t turn it over and allow them to get some easy baskets, and they did,” UND coach Brian Jones said. “They scored 18 points in transition alone in the first half. You can’t beat a team of that caliber and athleticism like that.”

In the second half, North Dakota closed to nine points with 14:04 to play and was still within 10 points with 11:07 to go. But Nebraska took off on a 12-2 run, with five points each from Gill and Roby, to expand the lead to 20 points for the first time at 75-55.

Nebraska’s normal leading scorers, guards Glynn Watson and James Palmer, scored 13 and eight points, respectively. Yet big days from them weren’t needed with Copeland and Gill coming through.

“This is what this team has to be,” Miles said. “This is what we haven’t had. That’s what the depth is that we’ve talked about all year. The depth has got quality, and we can make plays.”

Notes

» Miles praised the defense of guard Evan Taylor on North Dakota guard Geno Crandall, who entered the game averaging 27.3 points a game. Crandall, who scored 37 points in the second half of a victory over Troy, didn’t make a field goal until 12:50 left in the game Sunday and finished with 13 points on 3-of-10 shooting.

» Freshman guard Thomas Allen (bruised tailbone) didn’t play. He played briefly at St. John’s last Thursday after not practicing ahead of time. When Allen continued to show discomfort in Saturday’s practice, Miles shut him down to heal. Allen is expected to play in the Advocare Classic in Orlando, Florida.

» The Huskers will face Central Florida (3-0) and 7-foot-6 center Tacko Fall on Thanksgiving at 5 p.m. It’s the first of three games in four days in the eight-team tournament. The other teams on NU’s side of the bracket are West Virginia and Marist. The opposite bracket has Missouri, Oregon State, St. John’s and Long Beach State.

» Nebraska’s 92 points were the most in regulation since beating Southeastern Louisiana 92-65 two years ago.

Saquon Barkley reignites Heisman Trophy campaign as Penn State offense ‘snowballs’ past Husker defense

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Nebraska’s hopes didn’t end the first time Saquon Barkley sped through defenders Saturday afternoon. But it was a sign that the Penn State running back’s Heisman Trophy campaign was about to be in full revival.

NU defensive coordinator Bob Diaco revisited that first Barkley touch multiple times a few hours later underneath a rain-soaked Beaver Stadium. Third-and-1 for the Nittany Lions at their own 35 on their first drive.

Facing a four-man front, with no linebacker on the boundary edge and a receiver sprinting downfield to take the cornerback out of the play, Barkley took a read-option handoff from quarterback Trace McSorley and accelerated down the sideline for a 65-yard touchdown.

“You got a great opportunity and you got some hats right there,” Diaco said. “And then it creases for an explosive-play touchdown. It’s just like, unreal. It’s terrible.”

By halftime, Barkley had accounted for 208 total yards and three scores on 19 touches. He added four more touches for 16 yards after the break and sat the final stretch of a 56-44 blowout the Huskers were never in past the first quarter.

The read option again terrorized the Blackshirts one week after they hemorrhaged 409 rushing yards to Minnesota. McSorley kept the ball nine times for 46 yards and a score, teaming with Barkley to help PSU churn out 263 rushing yards. Their 609 total yards were 47 shy of Nebraska’s all-time opponent record set by Oklahoma in 1956.

“We’re well aware of all of it,” Diaco said. “They didn’t do anything that we didn’t prepare. They didn’t run any formations or plays that the players didn’t practice and that we didn’t prepare against as a group.

“Kudos to Penn State and their players and their staff. It’s an excellent offense, a very explosive offense, and we’re not executing very well on defense right now. That’s obviously the understatement of the century.”

Barkley turned in a highlight on almost every drive he was in. He scored on a 1-yard run up the gut in the second quarter after his somersaulting score from 11 yards out was determined to be just shy of the goal line. He added a pair of 24-yard swing passes on which he exploded after the catch.

The 5-foot-11, 230-pound junior added an 8-yard score on a read option to put Penn State up 35-10 in the second quarter, shedding a tackle attempt by linebacker Dedrick Young on his way.

Barkley ran for 35 yards against Rutgers last weekend and 63 and 44 the two weeks before that. But he ran for 142 on 17 carries (9.3 average) in half a game Saturday.

“He’s fast, very fast,” linebacker Mo Barry said. “I’ve never seen someone run that fast on the field. Explosive, accelerates, he’s very fast, I ain’t gonna lie.”

Said linebacker Chris Weber: “He’s a heck of a talent. Runs hard, fast. He’s the whole package. He makes their offense go.”

Diaco and his defenders agreed the game plan for stopping Penn State was different from how they tried to slow Minnesota. They wanted to create “layers” on defense, with Huskers ready to help if someone found a crease in the formation.

Instead, it was more of the same struggles the Blackshirts have endured all year. They had players assigned to individual Penn State skill players, but still lost containment on a regular basis on read options. Barry said guys may not have been patient enough. Weber said there was a “snowball” effect when results didn’t go Nebraska’s way.

“We’re just trying to find things for the players,” Diaco said. “Like I said, it’s very, very hard right now. It’s hard executing right now. And my heart goes out to the players.

“I want so badly to help them in the game and the plays are hard right now. You’re watching it, and we gotta pull up our bootstraps and get ready.”

The Huskers pressured McSorley and netted two sacks — their second most in 11 games this fall — but missed on other opportunities. Other botched tackles led to more big plays as Penn State racked up 8.2 yards per play on a soaked field and foggy day.

“It can get really bad and it can look really bad,” Diaco said. “But it’s really not that … for me, the people of Nebraska, the players, high school prospects, people that work at the university, it’s a great, great place. It’s a very, very special place. And with just some more here and there, this thing will get turned right back around.”

Nebraska volleyball extends winning streak to 11 with sweep of Maryland

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Maryland’s hot start threw some early trouble at No. 5 Nebraska, but after the Huskers weathered the initial storm, it was smooth sailing the rest of the way in NU’s 11th straight win.

Annika Albrecht and Mikaela Foecke each had eight kills to help Nebraska head into the final week of the regular season tied for the Big Ten lead after beating Maryland 25-23, 25-18, 25-13 Saturday evening at the Xfinity Center Pavilion.

Nebraska (24-4, 17-1 Big Ten) hit better than .300 for the fifth straight match, finishing at .310 Saturday. Foecke led the way, hitting .438 with one error on her 16 swings.

Maryland (17-13, 6-12) never found a way to slow NU’s attack. The Terrapins finished with 24 digs, well below their average of 11.6 digs per set in conference play, and the Huskers outblocked Maryland 9-4. The Huskers, who average 14.5 digs per set in Big Ten play, finished with 29 digs in a match with plenty of quick side-outs.

“There was not much rallying,” Nebraska coach John Cook said in a post-match radio interview. “They couldn’t dig. We couldn’t dig.”

The offenses had their way in the opener, in which Nebraska held on after taking a 24-20 lead. Maryland erased three set points on two NU errors and an ace from Samantha Drechsel, but Albrecht’s third kill of the first set gave the Huskers the important opening win.

NU survived the first set despite finishing with two fewer kills than the Terrapins, who got six kills from freshman outside hitter Erika Pritchard. Maryland outhit Nebraska .367-.333 in the first set, but committed four service errors — a pattern that would be costly for the Terrapins throughout the night.

“We didn’t play our best, but we played well enough to win,” Cook said. “We were nice and steady. We took their big haymaker punch in Game 1 and found a way to win that game.”

After leading 15-13 in the second, Nebraska took control with a 5-1 run that included a pair of kills from freshman opposite hitter Jazz Sweet, who finished with five on the night. The Terrapins’ serving woes continued with six more errors in the second set.

Maryland would finish with 12 service errors, half by sophomore Gia Milana, who was kept in check by Nebraska for the second time this season. A night after putting down 19 kills in the Terrapins’ win over Iowa, the sophomore outside hitter finished with three kills and four attack errors against the Huskers, giving her a negative attack percentage in each match against NU this year.

None of the other Terrapins fared much better in the final two sets — Maryland had 17 kills and 18 hitting errors after the opening set. Pritchard had a match-high 10 kills, but she hit .062 with eight errors.

“When Maryland passes, they’ve got a nice offense. They’re going fast,” Cook said. “The problem is they’ve got two setters, so it’s hard for them to stay consistent, and they don’t pass that well, so it’s hard for them to stay consistent enough.”

Nebraska’s blocking, which became resurgent with six stuffs in the third set, had something to do with it.

Nebraska middles Briana Holman and Lauren Stivrins each had four blocks Saturday, and while setter Kelly Hunter’s connection with the middles was less than ideal, Cook said, Holman and Stivrins’ 10 combined kills included some highlight swings.

“Kelly just was setting some tight, some off. She was just inconsistent and they couldn’t get synced up there,” Cook said. “As the match went on, we finally got our slide going. Lauren and Bri both had two huge kills on that.”

Foecke and Albrecht each had two aces and served long runs in the decisive clincher. The Huskers ran off nine straight points on Albrecht’s serve to go up 13-5. Foecke later served a 5-0 run that included a pair of Nebraska blocks.

Both Nebraska and No. 1 Penn State are 17-1 in league play heading into the final week of the regular season. The Huskers play at 12th-place Northwestern on Wednesday before hosting 10th-place Iowa for Senior Night on Nov. 25.

The Nittany Lions have back-to-back road matches on Friday and Saturday at No. 12 Wisconsin and No. 7 Minnesota.

Nebraska (24-4, 17-1)……..25 25 25

At Maryland (17-13, 6-12)…..23 18 13

NU (Kills-Aces-Blocks): Albrecht 8-2-2, Foecke 8-2-0, Holman 6-0-4, Sweet 5-0-2, Stivrins 4-0-4, Hunter 2-0-3, Maloney 0-1-0. Totals 33-4-15.

UM: Pritchard 10-0-1, Drechsel 8-1-1, Gardner 5-0-3, Gaskin 4-0-0, Milana 3-0-1, Murray 2-1-0. Totals 32-2-6.

Set assists: N 33 (Hunter 27, Maloney 3, Townsend 2, Stivrins 1), UM 30 (Snyder 17, Bentz 9, Milana 3, Burgio 1). Attendance: 1,667

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A short-handed Ohio State team mired in the middle of the Big Ten pack nearly threw a wrench into No. 5 Nebraska’s Big Ten title plans on Friday night.

Without their usually deft serving touch, the Huskers needed their attack to get hot near the finish to pull out a 25-23, 25-12, 22-25, 25-23 win in St. John Arena.

Junior outside hitter Mikaela Foecke notched her seventh double-double of the season with a match-high 15 kills and 11 digs. Nebraska (23-4, 16-1 Big Ten) also needed every one of redshirt freshman middle blocker Lauren Stivrins’ career-high 12 kills to stay tied with No. 1 Penn State in the conference title race and extend NU’s winning streak to 10 matches.

“This is really our first match we haven’t played, I thought, really, really great volleyball since Wisconsin,” coach John Cook said in his post-match radio interview. “That was 10 matches ago. It’s hard to be good every night. But, give Ohio State credit. They compete and they battle. They’ve got a nice team. We had our hands full.”

Some of the Huskers’ challenges were self-inflicted. NU had a season-high 14 serving errors and recorded only five blocks in four sets against the Buckeyes, who started freshman setter Becca Mauer in place of injured three-year starter Taylor Hughes.

But Ohio State was the more-composed side for much of the match, with outside hitters Ashley Wenz (11 kills, 10 digs) and Luisa Schirmer (10 kills, 13 digs) each putting together double-doubles.

“That was us being uptight and Ohio State punching us in the mouth,” Cook said. “We didn’t handle that as well, so we’ve got to learn from that.”

It didn’t take long to see the Huskers would be in a battle with eighth-place Ohio State (14-14, 7-10). Wenz scored on back-to-back rallies in the first set to put OSU up 23-22 before the Huskers won the final three rallies on kills by Stivrins and Briana Holman and a double block from Holman and setter Kelly Hunter.

After the Huskers ran away from the error-prone Buckeyes in the second set, Ohio State made a match of it in the third behind a spark off the bench from sophomore outside hitter Bia Franklin, whose six kills that set included a pair late to help the Buckeyes pull away from a 21-21 tie.

As rattled as Nebraska’s play was for much of the night, the Huskers didn’t flinch in the closing moments of the final set, which featured 12 ties. Schirmer and Franklin each fired aces to pull the Buckeyes even, but Nebraska got kills on the ensuing rally each time.

Ohio State drew even for the final time when Mauer’s setter dump dropped to the open floor to make it 23-23. But after an OSU timeout, Stivrins threw down the first ball to give the Huskers a match point.

NU made it count by slowing the Buckeyes, who hit .480 in the finale, for one of the few times in the final set. The Husker block got a good touch on a swing by Schirmer and, in transition, Hunter found Foecke, who blasted a ball through the block to the floor to end it.

Stivrins joined Foecke with four kills in the fourth set, helping the Huskers hit .581 in the frame. It was the first time in 12 matches Stivrins reached double digits in kills.

“One of the reasons that she was successful early was they were putting two blockers on Mikaela and letting Lauren go one on one, and she made them pay,” Cook said. “Game 4, they started putting two blockers on Lauren, and she still made them play. That’s a sign of a great player.”

And it’s likely the final time Nebraska will have to deal with Schirmer, who had 10 kills and a team-high 13 digs for the Buckeyes. After the match, Cook said he pulled aside Schirmer, who keyed OSU’s win over Nebraska last season with 16 kills, and told her how much he admired her career.

“She was kind of a question mark in recruiting, how good she would be. But she competed tonight,” Cook said. “She only had 10 kills, but she basically won Game 3 for them.”

Hunter set Nebraska to .341 hitting for the match and added 12 digs to her 47 assists to help overcome five service errors. Junior libero Kenzie Maloney had 12 digs, and senior Sydney Townsend had a match-high 14 digs and served three of the Huskers’ six aces.

Cook said Nebraska brought some nerves into Friday’s match after having lost three of the last four to Ohio State. Saturday’s opponent, Maryland, which beat Iowa 3-1 on Friday, doesn’t figure to have the same stigma, especially considering the Huskers swept the Terrapins in Lincoln on Nov. 8.

That’s it’s own kind of challenge for the Huskers to handle. They’re all big now with NU likely having no margin for error to win the Big Ten championship and claim one of the top four national seeds in the NCAA tournament.

“What we’ll have to caution on tomorrow is we just played Maryland a week ago and they didn’t compete very well, but they were on their third leg of a road trip,” Cook said. “So we’re going to see a different Maryland team than we saw in Lincoln.”

Nebraska (23-4, 16-1)…………….25 25 22 25

At Ohio State (14-14, 7-10)………23 12 25 23

NU (Kills-Aces-Blocks): Foecke 15-1-1, Stivrins 12-0-0, Albrecht 11-0-3, Sweet 9-0-0, Holman 8-0-5, Hunter 5-1-1, Townsend 0-3-0, Maloney 0-1-0. Totals 60-6-10.

OSU: Wenz 11-0-2, Schirmer 10-1-2, Smeathers 9-0-1, Witte 8-0-1, Franklin 6-1-0, Mauer 3-1-0, Swan 2-0-1, Gruensfelder 0-1-0, Halm 0-1-0. Totals 49-5-7.

Set Assists: N 55 (Hunter 47, Albrecht 3, Townsend 2, Maloney 2, Holman 1), OSU 44 (Mauer 39, Gruensfelder 3, Wenz 2). Attendance: 3,001

Nebraska wrestling pulls away from Wyoming for first dual win

LINCOLN — Nebraska won six of the last seven matches as the 15th-ranked Huskers opened their dual season with a 25-10 win over Wyoming on Friday night at the Devaney Center.

Those wins included a pair of victories over nationally ranked Cowboys.

At 157 pounds, junior Tyler Berger, the lone returning All-American on Nebraska’s roster this season, was able to edge 17th-ranked Archie Colgan 5-4. They were tied 3-3 after one period before fourth-ranked Berger moved in front with a second-period escape.

Husker sophomore Isaiah White, ranked 16th at 165, followed that up with a 7-5 decision over 12th-ranked Branson Ashworth. White got an early near-fall as he led 6-1 after one period.

Nebraska also received bonus-point wins from Taylor Venz at 184 and heavyweight David Jensen, who both won by technical fall.

Wyoming’s wins included a top-10 matchup between No. 3 Bryce Meredith and NU freshman CJ Red, who is ranked seventh. Meredith, a two-time All-American, led 5-0 after two periods on his way to an 11-5 decision.

That win put the Cowboys ahead 6-3 through three matches, but the Huskers then put together their run.

Nebraska returns to action next Saturday at West Virginia.

Nebraska 25, Wyoming 10

125: Kris Williams, N, dec. Trent Olson, 9-4; 133: Montorie Bridges, W, dec. Brian Peska, 11-5; 141: Bryce Meredith, W, def. CJ Red, 11-5; 149: Colton McCrystal, N, dec. Sam Turner, 7-3; 157: Tyler Berger, N, dec. Archie Colgan, 5-4; 165: Isaiah White, N, dec. Branson Ashworth, 7-5; 174: Kyle Pope, W, major dec. Eric Engler, 15-6; 184: Taylor Venz, N, tech. fall Chaz Polson, 18-2; 197: Eric Schultz, N, dec. Cody Vigoren, 7-3; Hwt: David Jensen, N, tech. fall Hunter Mullins, 17-2.

Nebraska natives Taylor Kissinger and Maddie Simon lead balanced attack in win over UMKC

LINCOLN — Freshman Taylor Kissinger led three Nebraska players in double figures with 18 points as the Huskers took control on the way to an 80-60 victory over UMKC on Tuesday night before 3,503 at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Maddie Simon added 11 for NU (2-0), and the two Nebraskans teamed up on a 10-0 run to open the second half. Kissinger, from Minden, and Simon, from Lincoln Pius X, each hit a 3-pointer, and Simon made two transition layups to help the Huskers turn a 38-35 halftime lead into a 48-35 lead.

Sophomore Grace Mitchell scored a career-high 10 points off the bench for Nebraska, which shot 50 percent from the field and made 12 3-pointers.

Emily Wood scored a career-high nine points on three 3-pointers, while Hannah Whitish, Kate Cain and Jasmine Cincore all scored eight points.

The Huskers limited UMKC (0-2) to 32.1-percent shooting for the game, including 19.2 percent in the second half.

Nebraska returns to action with a home game against Arkansas at 8 p.m. Thursday.

UMKC (0-2)…………………13 22 11 14—60

At Nebraska (2-0)…………20 18 26 16—80

UMKC: Dillard 1-3 1-2 4, Moore 4-10 5-7 13, Washington 3-10 8-8 16, Waldron 5-14 0-0 14, Law 2-11 2-4 6, Johnson 2-4 0-0 5, Husa 1-4 0-0 2. Totals: 18-56 16-21 60.

NU: Whitish 3-8 0-0 8, Simon 5-6 0-0 11, Cain 4-7 0-0 8, Kissinger 6-13 2-4 18, Cincore 3-6 0-1 8, Wood 3-4 0-0 9, Mitchell 4-7 2-2 10, Stallworth 2-7 0-0 4, Blackburn 1-3 0-0 2, Washington 1-3 0-2 2. Totals: 32-64 4-9 80.

3-point goals: UMKC 8-21 (Dillard 1-3, Moore 0-1, Washington 2-3, Waldron 4-12, Johnson 1-2), NU 12-28 (Whitish 2-6, Simon 1-2, Kissinger 4-9, Cincore 2-3, Wood 3-4, Mitchell 0-1, Stallworth 0-3). Rebounds: UMKC 33 (Moore 11), NU 42 (Simon 8). Assists: UMKC 7 (Moore 3), NU 21 (Whitish 9). Total fouls: UMKC 13, NU 23. A: 3,503.

Husker notes: Gifford out for season; No coaching decision until after Iowa; Knevel at guard?

Another Husker starter will miss the rest of the season: outside linebacker Luke Gifford will have surgery on his hip, Riley said Monday. Gifford, who totaled 39 tackles in seven games, had missed the last three games with the injury. He joins running back Tre Bryant and center Michael Decker as starters who will miss the rest of the season with injuries.

Quarterback Tanner Lee sustained a concussion at the end of the first half of Saturday’s loss. Riley said a defensive lineman fell on Lee’s head.

“I don’t rule him in or out right now. He’s in that (concussion) protocol, and you know how that goes,” Riley said. “It’s a day-to-day thing where only the medical people can come back and say if and where he’s cleared to play.”

Last season, quarterback Tommy Armstrong was knocked out cold against Ohio State but played the next week in a 24-17 win over Minnesota.

Cornerback Eric Lee remains in the concussion protocol for a third straight week. Receiver Conor Young (ankle) is out. Linebackers Chris Weber (stinger) and Dedrick Young (back) are probable for the game, as are nose tackle Mick Stoltenberg (knee) and running back Jaylin Bradley. Tight end Connor Ketter and safety Aaron Williams (neck) are questionable.

Riley said the number of injuries sustained by Nebraska this season is “somewhat normal.”

Among the positions, Nebraska’s defensive line — Stoltenberg, Carlos Davis, Freedom Akinmoladun, Khalil Davis and Ben Stille — has remained the most healthy.

No coaching decision until after Iowa

Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos told ESPN on Monday he will not make a decision on coach Mike Riley before the Huskers play their Nov. 24 game against Iowa.

“I’ve got a coach. He’s got a staff,” Moos told ESPN. “We’ve got players. All that’s in place. I don’t think there’s anything gained by breaking up that furniture, even though it’s not producing like we want it to.”

Moos was not immediately available for further comment to The World-Herald Monday afternoon, but his interview with ESPN falls in line with what Moos told reporters just minutes after he was introduced as NU’s A.D.

“I’m not a guy who ever changes coaches midseason,” Moos said in mid-October. “I don’t think anything comes out of that. The ones who suffer are the student-athletes. They can lose focus, and remember, focus is so important. In athletics, you’ve got to have that focus. No distractions. Be the best we can be and we’ll talk about it when the dust settles.”

Fans and some in the media suggested Moos make a change — or at least an announcement — after Nebraska’s 54-21 loss to Minnesota. Didn’t happen.

In mid-October, Moos said such a move is just a distraction.

“I’ll be taking notes along the way, but I don’t think anything is really accomplished — and I never have — from dismissing a head coach during the season,” Moos said. “It can be done pretty soon afterward, but you better have a plan in place as you go forward because, in this profession, there are so many jobs open, it’s like everybody’s coming to everybody’s front door.”

O’Brien offers new look at QB

Jerald Foster is comfortable blocking for either Lee or backup Patrick O’Brien at quarterback. But the left guard still had some adjusting to do Saturday when the redshirt freshman played the second half of the Minnesota game.

“Patrick, he surprised me a little bit with his running; I didn’t see that coming,” Foster said. “But he was doing it well and I was happy that he was doing it. So it’s good to see that he’s comfortable enough to take off when he needs to and then throw the balls that he was throwing.”

O’Brien came in for Lee after intermission when Nebraska’s 10-game starter suffered a concussion right before halftime. O’Brien played the most significant minutes of his career, going 12-of-18 passing for 137 yards. He also ran five times for 41 yards but was sacked six times for the same total, leaving his net rushing total at zero.

“I was proud of Patrick, actually,” Riley said. “His first significant time. It’s a horrible time to have to play in a game where you’re just passing almost all the time and they’re teeing off with blitzes and rushes and so we get too much pressure. But I thought he hung in there and made some beautiful throws and appeared to have a lot of poise as he played. So I was impressed with that.

“I think everybody can see he’s got a big-time arm and can make some of those big throws. Actually showed good mobility getting out of the pocket. Got a first down or two and made some plays. So I was proud of him in that way.”

With Lee in the concussion protocol this week, O’Brien could be in line for his first career start Saturday at Penn State. Riley said coaches are operating as though O’Brien will be the QB, with sophomore Andrew Bunch the backup. Bunch is a walk-on from Thompson Stations, Tennessee, who spent his freshman season at Scottsdale Community College in Arizona.

Coaches are looking at possibilities for an emergency third-stringer, Riley said. That player last year was holder Zack Darlington, who took a few snaps in the Music City Bowl. Darlington, however, remains sidelined with an illness.

Riley said he and the staff will embrace O’Brien tucking the ball and running if he sees fit. The coach joked about how he would take timeouts to celebrate in his previous stops if his quarterbacks ever ran for a first down.

The coach added that the playbook will likely be smaller this week for O’Brien.

“If that ends up being a little smaller package, that’s probably smart,” Riley said. “… Less may be more in a game like this for our new quarterback, if indeed he is our quarterback.”

Spielman’s success no surprise

Receivers coach Keith Williams minced no words when praising the performance of JD Spielman, who caught nine passes for 141 yards against Minnesota.

“He’s talented, he’s tough, he’s smart and he can catch. He’s got all the attributes,” Williams said. “And he wants to get better every day. He pays attention. He has tremendous attention to detail and it means something to him. It’s not a surprise, not a surprise.”

Spielman leads Nebraska in catches (49) and yards (734) this season.

Williams said he’s not worried about how Spielman or the rest of the receivers might adjust to a full game of catching passes from O’Brien.

“When you see the ball, you just catch it,” Williams said.

A challenge in Happy Valley

The timing of playing Penn State might not be the best, Riley said. Then again, there is no ideal moment to meet the No. 13 Nittany Lions.

An obvious threat is running back Saquon Barkley, a junior and Heisman Trophy candidate who is ranked second in the Big Ten in yards from scrimmage at 142.3, trailing only Wisconsin back Jonathan Taylor’s 158.

“We’ve just come through a game of (allowing 409) rushing yards and we’re playing a back like that,” Riley said. “We’ve got a big job ahead of us.”

The test continues with quarterback Trace McSorley, who leads the league at 266 passing yards per game, and a deep stable of receivers.

“Playmakers. Fast players. Very confident players,” linebacker Mo Barry said. “Not scared to risk it all because they know nine times out of 10 they will reap the reward of risking it all.”

Foster said he’s looking forward to matching up with the “stars” among PSU’s defensive line and linebackers, including leading tackler and senior Jason Cabinda, a linebacker. If nothing else, Foster said, the game is a measuring stick for how good the Huskers are.

Knevel at guard?

David Knevel started at right tackle in Nebraska’s opener, then injured an ankle and hasn’t been a starter since. That could change this week.

Offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh said Monday that the senior from Ontario, the team’s tallest player at 6-foot-9, will be in a “wide open” race with redshirt freshman Matt Farniok this week at right guard.

“We struggled a little bit at times last week,” Cavanaugh said, “so we’re going to let those guys go at it this week.”

Farniok has started at the position the last two games and began two others at right tackle this season while missing a few weeks in between after breaking a bone in his wrist.

The other right-side member, freshman tackle Brenden Jaimes of Austin, Texas, is in line to start for an eighth straight contest. Cavanaugh said Jaimes has been smart and tough but needs to continue refining posture — “He’s a little bit of a leaner” — and technique.

Short-yardage struggles

Nebraska’s generally been pretty good in short-yardage situations this year, Danny Langsdorf said Monday.

Against Minnesota? Not so much.

Nebraska was 2 for 6 on fourth down against Minnesota, including a fourth-and-1 flub at the 6-yard line that kept Nebraska out of the end zone.

“The fourth down was a safety that came from a long ways and was downhill fast,” Langsdorf said. “It probably wasn’t as good of an idea. We weren’t expecting the bear front.”

There are a myriad of issues with Nebraska’s short-yardage plays, including a lack of push by the offensive line and an inconsistent run game. One possible remedy would be more use of Boe Wilson as a fullback.

Wilson is a 6-foot-3, 295-pound redshirt freshman offensive lineman from Lee’s Summit, Missouri. Langsdorf had Wilson out there on as a lead blocker who paved the way for Mikale Wilbon’s 1-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

“We need some lead there to knock a guy out,” Langsdorf said. “They had big tackles. I thought he did great. The first one was outstanding. You watch the replay and he hammers that guy. It was a beautiful block.”

Cavanaugh said coaches have toyed all season with the idea of having Wilson as a lead blocker.

“Physically, he’s got a lot of tools,” Cavanaugh said.

» In hindsight, Riley wishes coaches had used Wilson more often in that role. Particularly the fourth-and-1 from the Minnesota 6 when the Gophers stuffed a run, then took possession and pulled away in the second quarter.

“If we could pull back in time and think about that on fourth-and-1 on that deal, that might have been a good call,” Riley said.

Williams helped were he could

Junior wide receiver Keyan Williams saw his first action as a Husker on Saturday against Minnesota.

Williams battled with Spielman for the starting slot position before the season, but he was sidelined with a hamstring injury in fall camp. Williams warmed up for the first time in full pads against Northwestern, but he didn’t see any time. On Saturday, he finally got in.

“It was frustrating just because I’d try to practice, but then it would happen again,” Williams said. “But the most frustrating part was I just wasn’t able to play with everyone.

“I just think it was God’s plan and I’m just following what He wants me to do. And now I’m back, so it’s OK.”

Williams, the son of wide receivers coach Keith Williams, is a transfer from Fresno State. He sat out the 2016 season.

Though he might not want to go into coaching, Williams did say his father’s example of coaching and keeping up morale helped him during his injury. Some players can fade into the background while injured. But Williams tried to make sure he was always around, always helping when he could.

Sometimes, he said, his dad “doesn’t have enough time to coach a guy for forever, so then I try and go in and chime in and add on to what he says. Sometimes it’s hard to coach for a big period of time that you actually need to, so then I’m able to go in there and help out a bit.”

Quick hits

» Riley shook his head in frustration when asked about how many points and yards his offense left on the field Saturday. The botched fourth-and-1 play on NU’s second drive of the game “haunts me,” he said.

“I think that you look at winning on those plays, of whether it’s a block, or beating a man, or making a tackle, that’s what we have to do better in those situations,” Riley said.

» Nebraska called three timeouts at game’s end — down 33 points — so O’Brien could get more experience in a two-minute drill situation.

“Here we are in the red zone. He hasn’t played much. Who knows if he’s going to play next week? At that point, I was just going to give him some more snaps,” Riley said. “I know that’s not very popular. I know people don’t like that. That’s simply why I did it.”

» Barkley, who may be playing his last home game at Beaver Stadium, belongs in the conversation among the best players in the country, Riley said. Barkley has 1,846 all-purpose yards, including 423 kick return yards. He has only had 44, 63 and 35 yards rushing in his last three games. Riley said he is equally impressed with Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley, who leads the Big Ten with 2,666 passing yards.

» Cavanaugh compared the Penn State defensive front seven to Ohio State’s. “They’ve got big, athletic guys that are physical,” Cavanaugh said. “It’s going to be a hell of a challenge.”

» The offensive line began preparation Monday for a noisy atmosphere in Happy Valley as well as getting more comfortable in front of O’Brien.

Cavanaugh said many of the offensive line woes were of its own doing against Minnesota and that a similar effort won’t cut it at Penn State. “(We have to play) a lot better, obviously,” he said. “And a lot of it had to do with us. We give up pressures or we give up a sack and it’s bad technique. We have to correct it.”

Huskers dominate from start, utilize bench in win over North Texas

LINCOLN — Talk about delaying the inevitable.

Nebraska scored the first five points in Monday night’s men’s basketball game against North Texas. Hoping to blunt that 58 seconds of momentum, Mean Green coach Grant McCasland called time.

Nice try.

After the stoppage, the Huskers scored 20 of the next 22 points, built first-half leads as big as 28 points and cruised to an 86-67 victory in front of 9,028 fans at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

The Huskers (2-0) used all 12 scholarship players in the first half, with nine scoring.

For the game, NU got 18 points and five rebounds from guard James Palmer;15 points, two assists and two steals from point guard Glynn Watson; and 11 points and seven rebounds from forward Isaiah Roby.

Nebraska missed its first shot of the game, but got the offensive rebound and reset the offense for a Palmer 3-pointer. That was the first of seven straight made baskets, which Palmer capped with another 3 for an 18-2 lead.

A miss from Roby broke the streak, but he grabbed his own rebound and eventually canned a 3-pointer to help build Nebraska’s lead to 25-2 with 11:56 to go in the half.

It wasn’t until North Texas’ 15th shot that it recorded a second basket.

Nebraska late in the half went up by 28 points, 42-14, on Watson’s steal and breakaway layup with 3:55 to go. The Huskers used another basket from Watson just before the buzzer to boost the halftime lead to 52-30.

NU struggled shooting in the second half when North Texas changed to a zone defense. The Huskers missed 20 of their first 25 attempts but still kept their lead at no less than 17 points.

The Huskers play next Thursday at 5:30 p.m., CST at St. John’s. The game will be carried by KNCY 1600 AM, 105.5 FM.

John Cook knows Huskers must be all-in to stay in Big Ten title hunt

LINCOLN — Two weeks remain in the regular season, and for the Nebraska volleyball team, a Big Ten championship could still be in the cards. But with the next three matches coming on the road, coach John Cook said Monday the Huskers can’t afford to misplay their hand in matches at Ohio State and Maryland this weekend.

“Fortunately, we’re in the game where the ante is getting pretty high,” Cook said at his weekly press conference. “It’s an important week, and we’re going to have to go and be able to play two great matches back to back on the road.”

Nebraska (22-4, 15-1 Big Ten), which moved up one spot to No. 5 in Monday’s coaches poll, ran its winning streak to nine matches after sweeping Maryland and Rutgers at the Devaney Center last week. But No. 1 Penn State also has been on a tear, winning 15 straight since being swept by the Huskers on Sept. 22.

It remains the Nittany Lions’ only loss of the year, meaning the

Big Ten title could come down to Thanksgiving weekend when Nebraska hosts Iowa, and Penn State plays No. 12 Wisconsin and No. 7 Minnesota, both on the road. The Huskers and Lions would be co-champs if both win out.

“I don’t think Penn State is going to lose,” Cook said. “Now, they’ve got some tough matches, but so do we. You’ve just got to assume they’re not going to lose.”

The Huskers will have plenty of recent examples to ward off complacency this weekend against two teams in the lower half of the league standings. Eighth-place Ohio State (14-13, 7-9) has earned wins over Nebraska in each of the last three seasons and will try to make it four years in a row at 5 p.m. Friday in Columbus in the teams’ only scheduled meeting this season.

Despite an up-and-down year, the Buckeyes pushed Penn State to five sets in St. John Arena before losing on Oct. 6 and scored a five-set upset at Wisconsin on Nov. 3.

Saturday, the Huskers face Maryland in a quick rematch of Nebraska’s 3-0 win at the Devaney Center last Wednesday. Cook said he expects a much tougher effort from the Terrapins at home, where they upset No. 15 Purdue in five sets on Oct. 29.

“It’s Big Ten. It’s back to back,” Cook said. “We’ve got to be able to grind for two matches, and whatever happens Friday we’ve got to mentally prepare to have another great effort Saturday.”

It’s not just the Big Ten title that hangs in the balance in the next two weeks. The Huskers are still jockeying to be one of the top four seeds for the NCAA tournament when brackets are released Nov. 26. While Nebraska was No. 2 in the rankings the NCAA volleyball selection committee unveiled on Nov. 1, the committee has been known to factor RPI rankings in to seeding selections.

Nebraska was No. 6 in the most recent RPI on Monday, and won’t get much strength-of-schedule help from its remaining opponents. At No. 38, Ohio State has the highest RPI of NU’s four remaining opponents, which hold an average RPI of 52 this week.

It’s hard to imagine Nebraska not getting one of the four national No. 1 seeds if the Huskers win out. But even one more loss could mean the Huskers would have to go on the road and beat a team like Texas, Stanford or Penn State in order to reach the final four in Kansas City.

“I don’t spend a lot of time and energy worrying about (seeding),” Cook said. “There’s still a lot of big matches yet to be played in all the conferences. All I know is we have a lot of great wins, so we’ll see. I used to worry about all that stuff. I don’t worry about it anymore because it’s completely out of our control.”

NU bolsters defensive ranking

While Nebraska racked up eye-popping hitting percentages during its recent home stand, hitting .425 over its last three matches, Cook said Monday he places more weight on NU’s defensive metrics.

The Huskers held Maryland, Indiana and Rutgers to a combined .040 hitting percentage, lowering Nebraska’s opponent attack percentage to a league-low .163.

“Our goal is to be the best defensive team in the conference,” Cook said. “We’ve got a shot to do that. That’s something we’re really stressing with our team.”

Nebraska has led the Big Ten in opponent hitting percentage in each of its two conference championship seasons (2011, 2016), and the conference standings often track closely to the margin between a team’s own attack percentage and what it allows opponents to hit.

This season, NU is one of only two Big Ten teams, joining Penn State, to have a hitting percentage more than 100 points greater than its opponent in conference matches.

Cook excited about recruits

Nebraska signed four players for the class of 2018 last Wednesday, all of whom were ranked in the top 55 on PrepVolleyball.com’s list of Senior Aces.

With the Huskers graduating four senior regulars from this year’s team, Cook said it’s important for each of the incoming freshmen to be able to compete right away.

“I think they’re all pretty tough, competitive kids,” he said. “I think they all have the chance to be elite players depending on how hard they work and how they adapt to college.”

The class is headlined by setter Nicklin Hames, the nation’s No. 4 overall prospect according to PrepVolleyball, who led her Webb School team to five straight Tennessee state championships, including one as a varsity starter in eighth grade. She was named MVP of the state tournament four times and also played on the U.S. junior national team last summer.

“She has a great volleyball mind. She is one heck of a competitor,” Cook said. “She’s kind of a combination of Lauren Cook and Kelly Hunter.”

But the recruiting might not be finished for next season. In 2018, the Huskers will be looking to replace graduating senior Annika Albrecht and junior Olivia Boender, who retired from the sport earlier this year.

NU signed outside hitter Capri Davis of Mansfield, Texas, the No. 21 recruit for 2018, but Cook said he could be in search of a transfer outside hitter to join a group next season that also includes three-year starter Mikaela Foecke and freshman reserve Sami Slaughter.

“We’re a little thin, if you look at our roster next year, at outside hitter,” Cook said. “So we have to do something.”

After Blowout Loss, Riley Says Huskers Moving on to Penn State

LINCOLN – After a 54-21 loss to Minnesota dropped Nebraska to 4-6 on the season with two games to go, Husker head coach Mike Riley says his team must focus on this weekend’s game against Penn State. Here’s more from the head coach at Monday’s weekly press conference at Memorial Stadium courtesy of Big Red Today and the Omaha World-Herald.