CHARLESTON, S.C. — The 118 seasons of men’s basketball at Nebraska aren’t known for many individual scoring explosions.
In fact, the number of Huskers to record a 30-point performance might surprise you. It did NU coach Tim Miles when told it was 24.
“Ever?” he blurted in disbelief. “Wow, that’s really low.”
That could change this season at NU, which starts play in the Charleston Classic at 11:30 a.m. Thursday against Massachusetts.
Nebraska already has one player on its roster who has hit the 30-point mark.
Senior guard Ray Gallegos scored 30 last year at Minnesota. Sophomore forward Shavon Shields has come close, scoring 29 last season at Penn State and 28 in this season’s opener against Florida Gulf Coast.
How many other Huskers are capable of a 30-point game?
“We have plenty who would like to try,” Miles cracked.
After he made a quick run through the roster, the other 30-point prospects he listed besides Gallegos and Shields were junior guard Deverell Biggs, freshman guard Tai Webster and sophomore forwards Walter Pitchford and Terran Petteway.
It’s a stunning number of scoring threats for a school that hasn’t had a 30-point game from someone other than Gallegos or former All-Big 12 center Aleks Maric in 16 years.
From the time Miles took the Nebraska job in March 2012, he said his recruits must know how to play and score. This season, with a young roster — only one senior — and seven scholarship newcomers, offensive firepower is even more important.
“We’ll need it the way we’re playing interior defense right now,” Miles said. “We’re not exactly guarding on the ball real well, either.”
Massachusetts (3-0) will test Nebraska (3-0) in both areas.
The Minutemen have a pocket-rocket at point guard in Chaz Williams. The 5-foot-9 senior is a two-time All-Atlantic 10 first-team choice, and won the league’s player of the week award this week while averaging 21 points and eight assists a game.
“Chaz Williams is really, really good,” Miles said. “He’s the type of player we haven’t seen yet.”
Inside, UMass parks 6-10 junior Cady Lalanne, averaging 18.7 points and 11.0 rebounds. He won the first A-10 player of the week award by putting up those numbers in wins over Boston College (86-73) and LSU (92-90).
UMass, receiving poll votes this week, has three starters back from last year’s 21-12 team that lost in the first round of the NIT.
Nebraska, averaging 74.7 points a game, will continue to push the offensive pace, Miles said, regardless of the competition.
“We have several guys who could put up big numbers and be productive,” he said. “How we coordinate that is the key.
“We can’t have a ‘my turn’ offense. This is a young team that is learning how to put things together. But our discipline will really be tested in this tournament.”
Miles believes bigger and better offensive numbers are possible.
“I think we’re behind offensively,” he said. “We have missed a lot of inside shots. And our guards have missed too many free throws. We have left a lot of points on the floor.”
Ľ Notes: Nebraska and UMass share one unfortunate piece of basketball history. Neither has made the NCAA tournament since 1998. ... The coach of the Minutemen is Derek Kellogg, a former player at the school under John Calipari. ... NU’s Webster is struggling with his shot, hitting 35 percent from the field (7 of 20), 16.7 percent from 3-point range (1 of 6) and 55.6 percent of his free throws (15 of 27). ... The Huskers’ second of three games in the tournament will be Friday at 11 a.m. or 1:30 p.m., against either No. 19 New Mexico (2-0) or Alabama-Birmingham (3-0).