The Nebraska Cornhuskers are on the road for the first time this season as the team takes on the NC State Wolfpack tonight. UNL enters the matchup at 5-2, coming off an 83-70 win this past Saturday over South Dakota. The Wolfpack come into the game at 5-1 after beating Louisiana Tech Saturday 90-81. The game tonight is part of the annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge between the two conferences dating back to 1999.
The Huskers are looking for a fifth straight win tonight after falling to 1-2 in the first three games of the season before rattling off four straight wins. Also at stake is the first losing record in the annual event since Nebraska fell in 2011 in its debut as a member of the Big Ten. The Huskers have lost the past two straight, both to Georgia Tech. Currently, UNL sits at 5-5, but has gone 4-2 in the last six years. Only Purdue (12-9) and Penn State (11-9) have a better record in the challenge among Big Ten members. Most importantly, Nebraska is the only program of either league that currently holds a winning record in road games, sitting at 3-2 heading into tonight.
Overall, the Big Ten is sitting at 7-12-3 in the series all-time, but in this year’s challenge currently sit at 6-2 with the chance to clinch a third straight victory with just two more wins out of the remaining six games tonight. Ohio State, Minnesota, Purdue, Rutgers, Iowa, and Illinois have won games thus far while Northwestern and Indiana lost. Michigan State, Michigan, Maryland, Penn State, and Wisconsin all have games left to play tonight in addition to the Huskers.
When: Wednesday, Dec. 1 at 6:15 p.m. CST/7:15 EST
Where: PNC Arena (19,722) - Raleigh, NC
Streaming: espn.com/WatchESPN App
Announcers: Mike Couzens (play-by-play), Cory Alexander (analyst)
Radio: Huskers Radio Network
Play-by-play: Kent Pavelka
Analyst: Jake Muhleisen
Broadcast Stations: KLIN (1400 AM) in Lincoln, KKCD (105.9 FM) in Omaha, KHYY (106.9 FM) in Scottsbluff, and KAMI (1580 AM) in Lexington
Also available on Huskers.com and the Huskers app.
NC State has just one loss thus far on the season in head coach Kevin Keatts fifth-year at the helm. The blemish on the record came in the form of a 74-68 loss to Oklahoma State at the Basketball Hall of Fame Showcase two weeks ago. The Wolfpack has won at least 20 games in the previous three seasons (2018, 2019, 2020) and has reached postseason play in 2018, 2019, and 2021. However, only 2018 saw the team qualify for the NCAA Tournament, and that resulted in a first round exit.
Last year, NC State finished ninth in the ACC with a 9-8 mark. However, the Wolfpack won its final five regular-season games, including a 68-61 win at No. 15 Virginia. NC State fell to the No. 8 seeded Syracuse Orange in the second round of the ACC Tournament and went on to the NIT, advancing to the second round of the NIT to finish with a 14-11 mark after falling to No. 1 seeded Colorado State.
The Wolfpack returned four of their top six scorers. Gone already, however, is big man Manny Bates to a season-ending injury in the opener against Bucknell. Bates averaged 9.8 points per game on 64 percent shooting last season while leading the ACC in blocks the past two seasons. Sophomore guard Dereon Seabron has emerged as one of the top players in the ACC. He is currently fourth in the league in scoring (18.8 ppg), second in rebounding (9.8 rpg), fourth in field goal percentage (.603), and second in steals (2.7 spg). He averaged just 5.2 points per game last year, so has had quite the breakout to start the 2021-22 season.
Senior forward Jericole Hellems was NC State’s top returning scorer coming into the year, averaging 12.9 ppg last season. This year he is second on the team, averaging 14.8 points per game with a team-high 13 three-pointers on the season. Four of the NC State’s five starters are currently averaging double figures on the season. Meanwhile. Terquavion Smith has been coming off the bench to average 9.8 ppg, including 11 three-pointers thus far. Cam Hayes runs the offense as point guard, averaging 11.7 points per game and has a nearly 5-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, though he ranks second on the team with helpers at 2.8 apg, trailing Seabron’s 3.0 apg.
One player that Husker fans should easily recognize on the NC State bench, however, is Thomas Allen. He spent two seasons at Nebraska after signing as part of the 2017 class before he transferred in April of 2019. Allen originally committed to NC State out of high school as a four-star recruit before Nebraska flipped him late in the 2017 cycle days ahead of signing day after then Wolfpack head coach Mark Gottfried was fired in February.
Allen played in 61 games for Nebraska, starting in 25 of them his sophomore season. He averaged 8.7 ppg that second year on 36.4 percent shooting from deep. He left Nebraska after head coach Time Miles was fired and ended up at his original and hometown school NC State. For the Wolfpack, Allen has played in four games so far this season as a super senior thanks to an extra year via COVID-19. He is averaging 2.5 ppg in an average of 14.6 minutes. Last season he played in 17 games, starting in 15. Allen averaged 7.4 ppg while playing 26.4 mpg, shotting 37.9 percent from deep and averaging 1.3 spg.
Tonight’s matchup is the first all-time meeting between the Huskers and the Wolfpack. Nebraska is 15-18 all-time against current members of the ACC.
2021-22 Record: 5-1 (0-0 ACC)
Head Coach: Kevin Keatts
Record at NC State: 84-48 (5th year)
Career Record: 156-76 (8th year)
2021-22 Record: 5-2 (0-0 Big Ten)
Head Coach: Fred Hoiberg
Record at Nebraska: 19-47 (3rd year)
Career Record: 134-103 (8th year)