GAME NOTES: The Nebraska Cornhuskers return home to face the Arkansas State Red Wolves in a non-league tilt at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Arkansas State is riding a three-game win streak. The Red Wolves have been idle since Dec. 2 when they cruised to an 86-61 home win over Niagara. They'll host Toledo on Tuesday night.
Nebraska is coming off last Sunday's 82-67 setback at Creighton, which snapped the team's three-game win streak. The Cornhuskers are 4-0 at home so far this season, and following this contest they'll break for finals until The Citadel pays a visit next Saturday.
Nebraska claimed an 81-79 win over ASU in the 1989 NIT, which was the only prior meeting between the two schools.
Arkansas State dialed up the defensive pressure against Niagara, holding the Purple Eagles to 31.7 percent shooting in addition to forcing 18 turnovers and holding a 48-36 rebounding advantage. The Red Wolves held Niagara's Antoine Mason, the nation's leading scorer, to 6-of-17 shooting and only seven second- half points. He also turned the ball over six times. Kendrick Washington paced ASU with 16 points, while Brandon Reed scored 15 and Raeford Worsham finished with 14 off the bench. On the season, the Red Wolves are putting up an average of 78.7 points per game and are led by Melvin Johnson III and his 17.9 ppg. Johnson is the nation's most accurate 3-point shooter, having connected on 64.3 percent (27-of-42) of his attempts from long range. The starting lineup features three guards and all five are seniors.
Nebraska trailed from start to finish at Creighton, which was the team's first road game of the season. Sophomores Shavon Shields and Terran Petteway turned in solid efforts in the loss, as Shields tallied 22 points and Petteway scored 21. However, the Bluejays set a blistering pace in the first half, shooting 54.8 percent from the field and connecting on 7-of-16 threes as they led by as many as 32. The Cornhuskers closed some ground in the second stanza, but the deficit proved way too steep to overcome. Petteway (16.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and Shields (12.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg) have been the steadiest performers this season, while reserve Deverell Biggs is averaging 12.0 ppg.
If the Red Wolves could hold Niagara's Mason in check, they should be able to limit Nebraska's sophomore tandem. Still, in order to pull out a win they'll need continued outside production from Johnson.
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