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January 7, 2011

Nebraska's non-conference season awards

With Nebraska's non-conference schedule officially in the books, Huskeronline.com decided to take a look back and give out some recognition to the Huskers' top players and moments over the past 14 games.

So without any further ado, we bring you our Nebraska basketball non-conference awards…

Non-conference MVP: Lance Jeter, PG

It's become very apparent that Nebraska is going to go only as far as senior point guard Lance Jeter takes it, as he's established himself as the heartbeat of the Huskers whenever he's on the floor. Jeter ranks second in the Big 12 with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.93, sixth in steals (1.93 per game), seventh in assists (3.93 per game) and he's also NU's second-leading scorer with 10.1 points per game. Even more, there's been an obvious difference in NU's overall tempo offensively when he runs the point, as he's always pushing the ball up the floor and putting pressure on opposing defenses.

Best newcomer: Caleb Walker, G

As soon as junior guard Caleb Walker signed with Nebraska last March, it was assumed he would come in and make an immediate impact this season. So far, he's done just that. A starter in nine games, Walker has averaged a decent 5.8 points per game, but it's been his rebounding that has made him such a valuable addition. With 66 total rebounds and an average of 4.7 per game, Walker is tied with center Jorge Brian Diaz for the team lead.

Biggest surprise: Drake Beranek, G

A lot of fans couldn't understand why Nebraska native Drake Beranek didn't get an offer from NU coming out of high school, especially after he lit up scoreboards for three seasons at Nebraska-Kearney. Well, after walking on in August of 2009 and sitting out last season, Beranek is finally showing the Huskers what they missed out on by passing him up. While he's not one to put up big numbers, it's been Beranek's hustle and willingness to sacrifice his body on loose balls and taking charges that have made him a sparkplug coming off the bench. His success just might open the door for other in-state kids down the road.

Best moment: NU's 20-point comeback against USC

Facing its first real test of the season, Nebraska found itself in a deep hole at home against USC, and needless to say the game - and the rest of the year for that matter - looked bleak. Then, behind stellar defensive play and some timely shooting down the stretch, the Huskers came all the way back from 20 points down to take their first lead with less than five minutes remaining. Not only did the win spark a 10-game winning streak, it also stands as arguably NU's best non-conference win of the year, as the Trojans went on to nearly upset Kansas and beat Tennessee on the road.

Worst moment: Ice cold shooting in Puerto Rico

Looking back, you have to wonder what could have been for Nebraska had it actually been able to make a single 3-pointer during the first two games of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. In losses to Vanderbilt and Davidson, the Huskers shot a combined 2-of-21 from beyond the arc. In both of those games, two or three more 3s could have been the difference between a win and a loss, especially in the three-point loss to Davidson. Seeing how those two games are the only blemishes on the schedule thus far, it's hard not to think about what some better shooting could have done.



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