The lull that usually occurs around Christmas for most teams hasn’t been a particularly enjoyable part of the year for Tim Miles at Nebraska recently, but the 2017-18 campaign has been mostly filled with good tidings so far for the sixth-year coach. The Cornhuskers hope to wrap up non-conference play on a three-game winning streak Friday when they host Stetson.
Despite its 3-3 record this month, Nebraska was highly competitive in two of the three defeats - all to ranked teams - and avoided the hard-to-explain December home losses to teams like Incarnate Word, Samford and Gardner-Webb that have left an indelible mark on each of its last three seasons. The Cornhuskers easily passed their most recent exam against a mid-major foe last Friday, racing out to an early 19-point edge and never letting their lead fall below double figures in an 85-68 win over Delaware State. “These Christmas games are just really difficult, and we’ve been through it. … We’ve got one more to go, so we’ll be locked in and we’ll find enough guys that can do it,” Miles told reporters. The Hatters make their first-ever visit to Lincoln having dropped three of four following a Dec. 19 loss to Central Florida and do not have a victory yet against a Division I opponent with a winning record.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network Plus
ABOUT STETSON (7-7): Divine Myles, who sits fourth in the Atlantic Sun in scoring (17.3 points) and field-goal percentage (54.5), also is second on the Hatters in steals (1.6), rebounding (4.9) and assists (3.5). The 5-11 senior guard has moved into seventh place on Stetson’s all-time scoring list with 1,550 career points and finished in double figures in each of his last 15 outings dating back to last season. Angel Rivera - a 5-9 senior guard - leads the conference with 5.1 assists and became only the fourth player in program history to reach 500 for his career in a Dec. 16 loss at Fort Wayne, while second-leading scorer B.J. Glasford (11.4 points) ranks fifth in the conference with 1.6 steals.
ABOUT NEBRASKA (9-5): The Cornhuskers have received strong play from their bench lately, as senior guard Anton Gill (10.5 points, team-high 28 3-pointers) - the only player in the Big Ten averaging double figures who has yet to start a game this season - has totaled 35 points on 11-of-21 from the field and 8-of-14 beyond the arc over the last two games. Reserve freshman guard Thomas Allen (4.7) saw his minutes spike after producing 13 points in 14 minutes against Kansas on Dec. 16 and is averaging 11 points over his last three outings. Leading scorer James Palmer Jr. (15.2) has tallied at least 10 points in all but one game this season and is averaging 21.5 over his last two.
1. A victory on Friday would give Nebraska nine non-conference wins, matching the program’s highest total in six seasons.
2. The Hatters have been outrebounded by at least 12 boards six times, including in each of the last three contests.
3. The Cornhuskers’ 13 3-pointers against Delaware State were their most in a game since 2011-12.
PREDICTION: Nebraska 84, Stetson 76