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Huskers Look for First Road Win at Missouri
Courtesy: NU Athletic Communications
01/30/2008
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Courtesy: Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

|+| Game Information

Game: Game 18                                   

Game Date: Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2008

Game Time: 7:05 p.m. CST                   

Release Date: Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2008

Television: Tape delay on FSN Midwest at 8:30 p.m.; ESPN FullCourt at 7 p.m.

Radio: Husker Sports Network (Kent Pavelka, play-by-play; Matt Davison, color)

Internet: Huskers.com (live radio, stats)

Satellite Radio: Missouri broadcast on Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 122

Venue: Mizzou Arena (15,061)

 

|+| Nebraska Hits Road Looking to End Skid Against Tigers

The Nebraska men's basketball team continues its daunting schedule to open Big 12 Conference play as the Huskers, who have already played Kansas twice and recently ranked Baylor in the first four games of league action, hit the road to take on Missouri on Wednesday, Jan. 30, in Columbia, Mo.

The Huskers and Tigers will tip off at 7:05 p.m. at Mizzou Arena. The game can be heard live on the radio on the Husker Sports Network, consisting of 30 stations around Nebraska and Iowa that provide coverage of Nebraska athletic events. Veteran play-by-play man Kent Pavelka will call the action while former Husker Matt Davison adds color commentary. The broadcast will be carried around the world live on the Internet on Huskers.com.

NU men's basketball games can typically also be heard on satellite radio. This week, however, only the Tigers' broadcast will be heard Wednesday on Sirius Satellite Radio on channel 122.

The game Wednesday will be seen live at 7 p.m. on ESPN FullCourt because it is a premium pay tier subscription service allowed by conference regulations. Due to a conflict with Big 12 television package programming Wednesday, the telecast will be required to be shown on a tape-delay basis on FSN Midwest (the Huskers’ third-tier partner) in the state of Nebraska only. The feed will be from the Missouri telecast, which will also need to be on a tape-delay basis beginning at 8:30 p.m. on Metro Sports.

Despite being just four games into the conference schedule, Nebraska has already had what will likely be its toughest two tests behind it as the Huskers are the only team in the nation to have faced No. 2 Kansas twice this season. The Huskers dropped their second decision to the Jayhawks on Saturday in Lawrence and are now 0-4 in league play for the first time in the Big 12 era. The Huskers' other two league losses this year came by a combined six points.

The last time a Nebraska squad started conference action with four straight losses was 1990, when the Huskers failed to win any of their first five league contests. NU finished that season with a 3-11 league mark and 10-18 record overall before turning around to win a school-record 26 games the following season.

For Nebraska to get back on the winning track, senior center Aleks Maric will again have to be the focal point. A preseason all-conference pick, Maric was held scoreless by the Jayhawks on Saturday, only the fifth time in his career – and first since his sophomore season – that he failed to score a point.

The 11th leading scorer in the Nebraska career record book, Maric hopes to see the same results as he historically has produced against Missouri. The 6-11, 275-pounder has averaged 15.3 points and 8.8 rebounds against the Tigers in eight career games, including 22.5 points and 14.0 rebounds per contest last season

Along with Maric, Nebraska needs continued improved play from guard Steve Harley, who has posted a career high point total in each of his last two games. Entering the starting lineup for just the fourth time this season, Harley posted a team-high 16 points at Kansas to spark the Husker offense. After scoring just five points in his first two Big 12 Conference games, Harley has posted 31 points over the past two games against Baylor and Kansas while hitting better than 50 percent from the field in those two games.

While Nebraska's offense has struggled, its defense has given it a chance to be competitive. Despite facing the high-powered Jayhawk offense twice in the past two weeks, the Huskers still rank ninth nationally and first in the Big 12 in scoring defense (57.9 ppg) entering the week, and are ranked 15th nationally in field-goal percentage defense, allowing just 38.0 percent shooting from the field.

 

|+| Harley Riding High

Adjusting to the Division I grind is tough for most players, even two-time junior college All-Americans. But Steve Harley, the highly touted guard from South Plains (Texas) College, has looked to finally be on track in the past two contests after struggling to find his groove early in the season.

Harley, a native of Temple Hills, Md., has averaged 15.5 points per game over the past two contests against Baylor and Kansas. He set a career high in consecutive games, posting 15 points against the Bears and coming back with 16 points on the road at the second-ranked Jayhawks. Harley has hit 12-of-23 (52.1 percent) from the field the past two games and has continued become more comfortable in the Husker offense.

The multi-talented Harley has done a little of everything for the Huskers this season as he has also added 2.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.3 steals per game while coming off the bench in 12 of 16 games played. Harley had scored 16 points in his first three starts (vs. IPFW, Arizona State and N.C. Central) before matching that total in his first conference start this past Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse.

 

|+| Leader of the Pack

Preseason all-conference center Aleks Maric is the unquestioned leader of the Nebraska Cornhuskers and is one of the top centers in the nation. The senior from Sydney, Australia, led Nebraska to 17 wins last season under first-year coach Doc Sadler while earning second-team all-conference honors. This year, Maric has helped NU to an 11-6 start including a victory over then-No. 16 Oregon.

More honors await in 2008 as he has again been one of the top players in the Big 12 Conference. Maric and freshman Michael Beasley of Kansas State are the only players in the Big 12 Conference ranked among the league's top seven in scoring (Maric, 7th; 15.6 ppg), rebounding (4th; 8.2 rpg) and field-goal percentage (4th; 55.7) entering this week's action.

Along with his powerful offensive game, Maric has improved defensively as well. He leads the league in blocked shots (1.9 bpg) and is on pace for a career high in steals. He ranks second on the squad with 19 steals and needs eight more to set a new personal season high.

Maric is the active career leader in the Big 12 for rebounds (820), double-doubles (25) and double-figure rebound games (29). No other active player in the league has even 20 double-doubles or double-figure rebounding games. He ranks second all-time at Nebraska in career rebounds and is 11th in scoring.

 

|+| Chairman of the Boards

Senior center Aleks Maric is the top returning rebounder in the Big 12 Conference after posting 8.7 rebounds per contest last season, including 9.4 boards per game against league foes. The active career leader in the Big 12 Conference, Maric set his career high with 19 rebounds against Missouri at home last year, bettering his previous mark of 17 at KSU as a sophomore.

With 252 rebounds last season, Maric moved into ninth place on the Husker rebounds chart. This season, Maric has already had a game with 16 rebounds (against Alabama A&M) – his fifth career game with at least 15 rebounds – and with eight rebounds against Maryland Eastern Shore, he took over sole possession of second place on the Husker career chart.

|+| Doubling Down Low

Center Aleks Maric established himself as a dual threat in the post from his first career game when he recorded 12 points and 14 rebounds in the season opener against Arkansas-Pine Bluff in 2004. Maric went on to record three double-doubles as a freshman and had 10 as a sophomore. Each of the marks in his first two years tied the NU class record.

Maric added 10 double-doubles last season and now has 25 in his career, a total that is tied for second in Nebraska history. He needs three more double-doubles to move into the Big 12 Conference career top 10.

Maric added his first double-double of the 2007-08 campaign with a workmanlike 21 points and 16 rebounds against Alabama A&M and posted 17 points and 13 rebounds at Western Kentucky. Five times this season he has just missed a double-double with nine rebounds.

 

|+| Dishing It

Freshman point guard Cookie Miller had a tremendous impact on the outcome of Nebraska's first game back from a three-day break for Christmas, as he posted eight points, 10 assists and five steals in the Huskers' 77-53 win over Alcorn State. Miller just missed his first career double-double while recording a personal high scoring effort in the Devaney Center (eight points; season high is 19 on the road).

Miller's double-figure assists marked the 25th time overall and he became the ninth Husker since 1984-85 to record at least 10 assists in a game. He is the first freshman in that time to record double figure assists, making him the first Husker freshman in the Big 12 era to post at least 10 assists in a game.

Miller is only the second Husker in the past five years to record 10 assists in a game joining Charles Richardson Jr. who had 15 in a road game last year at Rutgers. The Huskers' previous 10-assist game was 2002-03 when Jake Muhleisen had 10 against nationally ranked Minnesota at home.

Miller nearly made it two straight games with double-figure assists as he had nine assists against Maryland Eastern Shore in the non-conference finale. His 19 assists in two games were the most since Richardson had 22 (15 vs. Rutgers; 7 vs. Oregon) last year.

Overall, Miller has had 27 assists against nine turnovers in the past five games. In conference play, Miller has had just eight turnovers in 125 minutes (team-high 32.3 mpg) in league play, including only one turnover in 32 minutes against No. 3 Kansas at home and one miscue in 34 minutes in his first Big 12 road game against Colorado.

The list of Huskers with at least 10 assists in a game during the Big 12 era includes:

Miller's steady hand as a ball-distributor has helped the freshman lead the team with 66 assists (3.9 apg) against just 34 turnovers.

 

NU Freshman Top 10 – Assists

No. Name (Year)                    Assists

1.   Tyronn Lue (1996)                  144

2.   Jake Muhleisen (2002)            105

3.   Jaron Boone (1993)                  87

4.   Brian Carr (1984)                      78

5.   Marcus Walker (2006)              74

6.   Cookie Belcher (1997)              68

      Eric Piatkowski (1991)              68

8.   Cookie Miller (2008)                 66

      Charles Richardson Jr. (2004)   66

      Erick Strickland (1993)             66

 

|+| Road Warrior

Diminutive guard Cookie Miller has shown early in his career that he can play with the big boys, especially in hostile environments.

Miller proved how explosive his offensive game can be when he took over for the Huskers in the second half against Creighton in Omaha. Miller, who had recorded 11 points in his first three games combined, posted a game-high 19 points against the Blue Jays. After scoring eight in the first half, Miller came out on fire in the second period when he scored another 11 points to help NU outscore Creighton 42-27 after the intermission in a come-from-behind attempt that fell short. Miller hit 7-of-13 attempts from the floor against the Blue Jays.

In his first Big 12 Conference road game against Colorado, Miller again stepped up to pace the offense as he posted 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting while hitting four 3-pointers. Miller's 18 points were a game high.

In four road games this season, Miller is the team's top scorer at 12.5 points per game. Center Aleks Maric is the only other double-figure scorer as he has posted 10.0 points with 9.8 rebounds in four road contests.

Miller has hit 18-of-37 field-goal attempts (48.6 percent) away from the Devaney Center, including nailing 6-of-14 attempts (42.9 percent) from beyond the arc. At home, Miller has averaged 4.0 points per game on 34.5 percent shooting (19-of-55) including connecting on just 3-of-21 3-point attempts (14.3 percent) at home. Miller owns 56 assists against 19 turnovers at home, while posting just 10 assists against 15 miscues on opponents' courts.

 

|+| Stealing the Show

Freshman Cookie Miller has quickly made a name for himself on the defensive end of the floor as he moved onto the Nebraska freshman top-10 steals list with five thefts against Alcorn State on Dec. 29. He had at least one steal in each of his first 14 career games until seeing the streak snapped against Colorado on the road.

 

Miller now ranks fourth in NU freshman history with a team-leading 34 steals this season. The Nebraska freshman and career records are also owned by a Husker named Cookie, as Cookie Belcher had 87 steals as a freshman in 1997 and finished with 353 steals in his career.

 

NU Freshman Top 10 – Steals

No. Name (Year)                      Steals

1.   Cookie Belcher (1997)              87

2.   Tyronn Lue (1996)                    50

3.   Erick Strickland (1993)             47

4.   Cookie Miller (2008)                 34

5.   Joe McCray (2005)                   32

      Clifford Scales (1988)               32

7.   Jake Muhleisen (2002)              28

8.   Jaron Boone (1993)                  26

9.   Ryan Anderson (2007)              25

10. Beau Reid (1988)                     24

 

|+| Among the Best Rookies

As a newcomer to the league, freshman point guard Cookie Miller will be tested repeatedly during the Big 12 Conference season. If he can continue his success from the non-league play, Miller will likely be in the mix when the media votes on the Big 12 All-Freshman Team.

Through Sunday, Jan. 27, Miller ranked eighth in the Big 12 Conference in assist:turnover ratio (1.94-to-1), sixth in assists per game (3.88) and sixth in steals per game (2.00). He is the only freshman ranked in the top 10 in steals and assist:turnover ratio, and the only freshman in the top eight in assists.

 

|+| Getting Defensive

Nebraska has shown the ability to put on a strong defensive performance at times this season.

The most recent show-stopper came against North Carolina Central on Dec. 22 when Nebraska set the then-Big 12 Conference record by allowing just eight points in a half (first). NCCU posted only two 3-point field goals – also tying the then-NCAA and Big 12 record low for field goals in a half – and two free throws before intermission. The Big 12 and NCAA records held for only a couple weeks as Kansas State limited Savannah State to four second-half points and one field goal in the period on Jan. 7 to set the new NCAA records.

North Carolina Central finished with 28 points, just two off the Big 12 and building record of 26 points by Bethune-Cookman in 2003. NCCU's nine field goals in the game also tied the Big 12 Conference opponent low.

It was the second straight game at the Devaney Center that Nebraska completely dominated the defensive end. Against Savannah State on Dec. 11, the Huskers allowed just 37 points while holding SSU to just 26.4 percent shooting from the field. The Tigers had just 12 points at the half, tying the previous Big 12 record low for a period, as Nebraska allowed just 20 total points in the first period of the two consecutive games at the Devaney Center.

 

|+| 40-pointers

Nebraska's impressive defensive performances against Savannah State and North Carolina Central marked the first time in the 31-year history of the Devaney Center that NU held consecutive opponents in the building to less than 40 points. NCCU's 28 points was the second-lowest total in building history and the second-fewest points allowed in a game by Nebraska since 1947. SSU's 37 points were the sixth-lowest in building history.

Overall, the Huskers have held just five teams to less than 40 points in Devaney Center history, including two this season.

The last time Nebraska held consecutive teams to less than 40 points at home was the first two games of the 1949-50 campaign. That season marked the last time Nebraska won a league title, as it tied for first place in the Big Seven Conference that year. 

 

|+| Taking Care of Business

Coach Doc Sadler stresses the importance of ball security and being smart with every pass. The Huskers have done a solid job of listening to Sadler's direction while taking care of the ball this season as they have averaged just 13.4 miscues per game (227 turnovers in 17 games) to rank in the top 65 nationally entering the week.

Nebraska had a season-low seven turnovers against then-No. 16 Oregon, including going the final 9:27 of regulation and all of overtime without a turnover. The Huskers also posted just seven turnovers in the non-conference finale against Maryland Eastern Shore.

In league action, NU posted just 12 turnovers against the strong defensive pressure of the No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks and had nine turnovers on the road against Colorado. Through three games, NU is averaging just 11.3 turnovers per game in conference action.

NU's season high for turnovers came on the road against Western Kentucky when the Huskers had 23 miscues. Nebraska also had 21 turnovers in its road opener at Creighton, including 17 in the first half.

 

|+| Under Pressure

Nebraska's defensive pressure has forced teams into an average of 17.3 turnovers per game (294 through 17 games) this season. NU has forced at least 20 turnovers in a contest five times this season, including a season-high 26 against North Carolina Central.

In the Huskers' last home game, NU forced 21 turnovers against Baylor, the most against a conference opponent since forcing 26 against Texas Tech in 1999.

 

|+| Piling Up the Points

Nebraska struggled at times early in the season to get the offense in full gear, but cranked it up a notch over the last five games of the non-conference season. During that span, the Huskers averaged 80.8 points per game on 52.0 percent shooting in five straight victories.

The Huskers had one of their most productive offensive games against Savannah State despite playing 14 players (everyone on the roster except five redshirts). All but two players scored in the contest with three earning career highs and one gaining a season high. Eleven Huskers scored at least five points apiece with junior forward Shang Ping leading the way with a game-high 11 points.

Nebraska started the game on a 26-2 run and hit 60.0 percent from the floor in the opening half before finishing the game hitting half of its attempts (27-of-54). The 82 points were just one off the then-season high and tied for the third-highest scoring game in the coach Doc Sadler era.

Nebraska came back to add 88 points in an overtime win over then-No. 16 Oregon and posted 71 points in a 43-point victory against North Carolina Central. Nebraska topped the 70-point mark for the fourth straight game with 77 points against Alcorn State and rounded out the non-conference slate with 86 points against Maryland Eastern Shore.

The five-game streak scoring at least 70 points was the second-longest under second-year head coach Doc Sadler. Last year, NU had a seven-game streak, all in non-conference action.

 

|+| Single Digits Rarity?

In what is typically an uncommon sight, the Huskers held Savannah State without a double-figure scorer on Dec. 11. Only two players scored more than five points on the night with Anthony Jones leading the way with eight points.

While it may not be common, it was the second time this year – and the second time in three home games – the Huskers held every player on the opposing team to nine or fewer points. Nebraska also turned the trick against Pac-10 foe Arizona State on Dec. 2, when three players each scored eight points to lead the team in a 62-47 loss to Nebraska.

Against North Carolina Central, the Huskers nearly made it three games without allowing a double-figure scorer as NCCU posted just 28 points in the contest, the second-fewest points NU has allowed since 1947. But Bryan Ayala's last basket gave him 11 points on the night to lead the Eagles. Only three other players scored for NCCU, one with seven points, one with six and one with four.

 

|+| Maric Chart Watch

With eight rebounds against Maryland Eastern Shore, senior center Aleks Maric improved his career total to 789 boards to rank second all-time on the Nebraska career rebounding chart. The Sydney, Australia, native took sole possession of the runner-up spot, passing Leroy Chalk who had 782 in his career. Maric will trail only Nebraska record-holder Venson Hamilton, who posted an amazing 1,080 rebounds in his career.

Maric, who currently has 820 career boards after picking up nine against Kansas, is also on pace to soon move into the career top 10 for scoring at Nebraska. Entering Wednesday's game against Missouri, Maric has 1,376 career points to rank 11th all-time in Husker history. Maric needs 40 points to move into the Nebraska career top 10.

Entering the season, Maric already ranked in the NU career top 10 for blocked shots, and currently he sits in seventh place with 121 after passing former teammate Wes Wilkinson (112).

Maric is already in the Nebraska top five for free throws made (383, third) and attempted (590, third), and will reach the top 10 for field goals and games started this season.

 

|+| Hot Shooting Huskers

After a strong start to the season, it's obvious why Coach Doc Sadler was optimistic about his team's shooting ability. Despite hitting just 35.4 percent in conference action, the Huskers have knocked down 46.1 percent overall from the floor on the season. Nebraska still ranks 86th nationally and seventh in the Big 12 Conference despite the recent shooting slump.

Nebraska began the year by blistering the nets for an impressive 61.0 percent (25-of-41) from the floor in the season opener against Presbyterian. It was the fifth time in the Sadler era NU topped 60 percent shooting. NU has hit at least 50.0 percent in five other contests.

Center Aleks Maric has been at the front of the offensive charge during his years at Nebraska. Last season he led the Big 12 in field-goal percentage at 56.5 percent. This season Maric is currently fourth in the Big 12 in field-goal percentage (55.7) and he is within striking distance to become the first player since the formation of the Big 12 Conference in 1996-97 to lead the league in field-goal percentage for two consecutive seasons. Only Colorado's David Harrison has led the Big 12 in field-goal percentage twice in a career (2002 and 2004). 

In his career, Maric has hit 52.4 percent (495-of-944) from the field.

 

|+| Meet the Missouri Tigers

Missouri enters the mid-week clash with the Huskers looking to get back to .500 in conference play. MU is 2-3 in the league after pulling out a 66-62 victory at Colorado on Saturday. The Tigers also defeated nationally ranked Texas at home in the Big 12 opener, 97-84, but have lost to Iowa State, Kansas and Texas Tech. Overall, Missouri is 12-8 on the season with strong wins over Maryland and Purdue in the non-conference season.

The Tigers suffered a major setback following the Colorado game as senior point guard Steffon Hannah, the team's leader in points, assists and steals was lost for 4-6 weeks with a broken jaw following an incident early Sunday morning. Hannah was averaging 14.7 points and 5.3 assists per game while also ranking second on the team with 45 3-pointers.

Without Hannah, the Tigers are expected to see sophomore Keon Lawrence and senior Jason Horton step up into the point guard role. Lawrence has been explosive at times offensively and will likely keep the Tiger offense rolling. MU has averaged 80.8 points per game this winter, ranking third in the Big 12 Conference in scoring offense. The Tigers have allowed 69.4 points per game while teams have hit 42.4 percent from the field, but just 26.7 percent from 3-point range.

While Lawrence, who is averaging 10.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game, will have to get the backcourt in motion, the Tigers are still in good hands behind transfer DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons, who are combining for more than 25 points and 12 rebounds per game. Carroll has hit 55.2 percent from the field while Lyons has knocked down an impressive 62.7 percent. Together, Lyons and Carroll have gone to the free throw line 178 times, nearly half of the Tigers' 422 attempts. 

 

|+| Huskers Find Success in Classroom as Well as On Court

After opening a new season with the beginning of Big 12 Conference action, the Nebraska men’s basketball team also started a new ‘season’ in the classroom when second semester classes began at UNL on Monday, Jan. 14. The Huskers hope to be as successful as last semester in both areas.

As a team, Nebraska posted an 11-2 record on the court and was nearly as impressive off it. During the first semester in the classroom, the Huskers combined for a 3.016 team grade-point average. Seventeen players earned at least a 2.5 individual GPA, including 11 Huskers with better than a 3.0. Among the newcomers, six earned at least a 3.0 in their first full semester at Nebraska.

“I think this says a lot about the players as individuals and competitors,” said Nebraska head coach Doc Sadler. “To build this program, we’ve talked about how we need players who not only have talent, but who also have character. I think the effort that they’ve given to produce this kind of success in the classroom shows the type of character we have on this team.”

Junior guard Paul Velander, a secondary education/natural science major, has helped pace the Huskers’ strong academic efforts. Last spring, Velander was the 24th Husker named to the all-academic squad since the formation of the Big 12 Conference, a total that ranks second in the league.

Sadler has had a tradition of helping players find success in the classroom. As head coach at UTEP, Sadler saw 10 Miners earn at least a 3.0 grade-point average during the first semester in 2005-06, his final year at the school. As head coach at Arkansas-Fort Smith, Sadler had a 95-percent graduation rate during his five-year tenure.

 

|+| Huskers Fall at No. 2 Kansas

Kansas proved why its defense was one of the most highly regarded in the nation as the No. 2 Jayhawks pressured Nebraska all game long while pulling away for an 84-49 victory Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.

It was the eighth straight win in the series for the Jayhawks and 46th in 53 games at Allen Fieldhouse. Last year, the Huskers suffered their second-worst defeat in the program’s history, dropping a 92-39 contest at KU.

It looked to be much of the same in the first half as Kansas blitzed the Huskers from the opening tip. Nebraska shot just 20.7 percent (6-of-29) from the floor in the opening frame while producing just one assist against eight turnovers. Kansas shot 57.1 percent (16-of-28) including hitting 4-of-6 from beyond the arc.

Junior guard Brandon Rush, a projected first-round NBA pick this summer, was the only Jayhawk to connect from outside the 3-point line, hitting 4-of-5 while posting 14 points in the period. Rush and sophomore forward Darrell Arthur combined to hit 11-of-15 shots from the field in the first 20 minutes, as the two outscored the Huskers 28-15.

Quickly down 6-0 to open game, Nebraska pulled within three, 8-5, on Ryan Anderson’s deep 3-pointer, but that would be as close as it would get. Coach Doc Sadler was forced to use three timeouts in the first period to stem the Kansas offensive push.

A pair of baskets by Arthur, a 3-pointer by Rush and a steal and layup by Sherron Collins made it a 9-0 run to extend the Jayhawks’ lead to 17-5 before Sadler called his second timeout of the half at the 12:20 mark.

The physical game had the Huskers in foul trouble early as Aleks Maric, Cookie Miller and Anderson each had two fouls with less than 11 minutes off the clock. Kansas took advantage, putting on a 17-4 run before Steve Harley finally answered for the Huskers with a driving layup in the lane to pull NU within 14 points at 25-11 at the 7:43 mark of the first half.

KU then outscored Nebraska 19-4 the rest of the way before intermission. Ade Dagunduro led the Huskers with six points while coming off the bench for the first time this season.

Nebraska showed some moxy in the second period as it kept competing and forced the Jayhawks to continue to work for shots. The Huskers scored 14 points before the second media timeout, nearly matching their first-half output. Harley led the early effort with five quick points while Chris Balham added four points and Miller had three along with an impressive block while getting back in transition defense.

Balham finished with a career high in points (six) and rebounds (eight). Maric did not score in a game for the fifth time in his career, as he was held to 0-of-6 shooting. Maric added nine rebounds as the Huskers were outrebounded 46-39.

Harley led the Huskers with 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting while Arthur had a game-high 18 points. Rush added 17, including five 3-pointers, while Darnell Jackson had 13 and Sherron Collins came off the bench for 10 points.

 

|+| Holding at 80

Nebraska has allowed just two teams (three occasions) to top the 80-point plateau in the Coach Doc Sadler era. Only Kansas (84 points) has topped the mark this season while Kansas (92) and Hawaii (81) reached the plateau last year. All three of the contests have been on the road and were Husker losses.

NU had gone 22 games without allowing a team to reach the 80-point plateau until Kansas scored 84 points last weekend against the Huskers in Lawrence.

Much of Nebraska's success this season has come as a result of a pesky defense that ranked ninth nationally in scoring defense entering the week (57.9 ppg) and a field-goal percentage defense that was 15th nationally (38.0 percent).

 

|+| Strong Streaks

Nebraska has seen several impressive streaks come and go this season.

The Huskers' six straight wins to end the non-conference slate is the second-longest win streak by a Nebraska squad during the Big 12 era, matching the mark set by the 1996-97 and 2001-02 Nebraska squads. Only the 1997-98 squad has recorded seven straight wins, putting together six to end the regular season and one in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament.

Following an 86-50 win over Maryland Eastern Shore, Nebraska's 11-2 record heading into conference play was also its best mark to open a season in the Big 12 era. The previous best occurred in 2003-04 when NU began the season with a 10-2 mark through 12 games, but failed to record a win in its 13th contest.

The Huskers also had a 12-game home-court winning streak that came to an end with the first conference game against No. 3 Kansas.

 

|+| Non-Conference Success

The Huskers posted 11 victories in regular-season non-conference play, equalling the program's best mark in the Big 12 era. Nebraska also recorded 11 non-conference victories before league play last year, the first season under Coach Doc Sadler.

Before last year, Nebraska had recorded double-figure wins in non-conference play just twice since the league was formed in the 1996-97 season. The last time NU had more than 11 wins in the regular season against non-league teams was the final year of the Big Eight Conference in 1995-96, when Nebraska posted 12 victories including seven in early season tournaments.

 

|+| Going 80

Nebraska topped the 80-point plateau in consecutive games against Oregon and Savannah State, and four times total this season. Nebraska reached at least 80 points in back-to-back contests only one time last year, when NU posted three straight games over 80 points to end the non-conference season.

Overall, NU had six 80-point games last year. The Huskers are now 10-0 when scoring at least 80 points under second-year coach Doc Sadler.

Eight of the 10 highest scoring games under Sadler have come at the Devaney Center. The only times Nebraska has topped the 80-point plateau away from Lincoln was in an 82-67 victory over Miami on a neutral court last year and the 88-79 overtime win over then-No. 16 Oregon in Lincoln this year, which is Nebraska's highest-scoring game under Sadler.

 

|+| Scoring Droughts

Nebraska has dominated games this season by holding opponents to lengthy scoring droughts.

Among its best defensive starts to a game, Nebraska held North Carolina Central without a point for the first 5:00 of the game and allowed only one field goal in the opening 15:07 of the contest. NCCU went 10:07 between its first and second basket of the game as Nebraska ran to a 25-4 lead to open the game.

That strong start is becoming a similar trend as the Huskers also ran out to a 26-2 lead to start the contest with Savannah State. NU allowed just six points in the first 18:22 of the game as SSU went 6:07 without scoring a point to open the contest and then after its first field goal, did not score another point for another 7:46.

Holding opponents to long stretches between field goals is nothing new to Husker fans. Nebraska has held an opponent without a field goal for at least five minutes 21 times this year (5:38 vs. Presbyterian; 5:05 and 5:28 vs. Alabama A&M; 5:28 vs. Alabama A&M; 7:59 vs. Norfolk State; 12:48 and 6:51 vs. Arizona State; 5:02 and 5:33 vs. Rutgers; 6:07, 7:46 and 5:05 vs. Savannah State; 5:00, 10:07, 10:05 and 6:58 vs. North Carolina Central; 5:04 and 5:24 vs. Alcorn State; 5:09 and 6:05 vs. Maryland Eastern Shore; 5:48 vs. Baylor).

In what was expected to be its toughest non-conference matchup of season at the Devaney Center, Nebraska put on a defensive clinic against Arizona State. Nebraska allowed just one basket – and only four points total – over the final 11:26 of the opening period. After a 3-pointer at the 8:36 mark, ASU had just four more shots in the half and missed all of them while committing eight turnovers in the stretch. The Sun Devils then recorded one basket in the first 11:03 of the second period. That made it 12:48 between baskets (8:36 in first half to 15:48 in second half) and a stretch of 19:39 with only one made field goal and 14 total points (one 3-pointer and 11 free throws).

The performance against ASU (12:48 between field goals) was the second-longest opponent scoring drought in the coach Doc Sadler era. Last year, the Huskers recorded 20 stretches of at least 5:00 off the clock without allowing a field goal, including a season-high 14:28 for Houston between baskets in the second half.

 

|+| Shutting It Down

Nebraska ranks third in the Big 12 Conference and 15th nationally as it has held opponents to 38.0 percent shooting from the field through 17 games, including limiting four opponents to less than 28 percent. The Huskers set a season-low by allowing North Carolina Central to hit just 19.6 percent from the field, a Devaney Center opponent record.

Over consecutive games, the Huskers held Alabama A&M to just 27.6 percent shooting from the floor while allowing Norfolk State to connect on only 26.8 percent of its shots. The last time Nebraska held back-to-back opponents to less than 28 percent shooting was in 2003 when Tennessee hit 27.9 percent followed by Bethune-Cookman hitting 21.2 percent, the previous building low until NCCU broke the record. Bethune-Cookman scored just 26 points in that contest, also a building and Big 12 Conference record opponent low.

NU also held Savannah State to just 26.4 percent shooting this season. Nebraska has now held opponents to less than 30 percent shooting 19 times during the Big 12 era.

 

|+| Slowing the Scoring

Nebraska has been solid on defense this season and has allowed a Big 12-low 57.9 points per game on 38.0 percent shooting over the first 17 contests. NU has held six opponents to 50 or fewer points this year, after holding just two opponents to under 50 points – including a Division II school – all of last season.

Through the NCAA reporting period on Jan. 27, the Huskers ranked ninth in scoring defense and 15th nationally in field-goal percentage defense.

The most high-profile team Nebraska has held under 50 points this season was Arizona State. The Pac-10 opponent recorded just 21 points in the first period and 26 in the second. In fact, NU turned up the defensive pressure enough that the Sun Devils had just 31 points with 6:40 to play in the contest.

Nebraska opened the year on a strong note as it held its first three opponents to 52 or fewer points, the first time NU had accomplished the feat to open the season since 1946-47. The last time Nebraska held three straight opponents to 52 or fewer points at any point in a season was 1981-82.

 

|+| Redshirt Decisions Made

Coach Doc Sadler announced on Saturday, Nov. 17, that two newcomers had made the decision to redshirt this season to better acclimate to Division I play. Sadler said that sophomore transfer Alex Chapman and freshman Brandon Richardson will redshirt this season.

After taking a while longer to decide, Sadler said on Dec. 2 that freshmen Alonzo Edwards and Toney McCray, who have dressed for every game this season, also decided to redshirt, giving NU a solid core for the future.

Also redshirting this season is true freshman walk-on Mike Diacos, a native of Ventura, Calif.

 

|+| Huskers Pick Up Hardware

A pair of Huskers were honored by the Big 12 Conference on Monday, Dec. 17, as senior center Aleks Maric was named the league’s player of the week and junior guard Ade Dagunduro was selected as the rookie of the week. The honors marked the first time in school history Nebraska players were selected for the accolades in the same week.

Maric picked up his second career nod as player of the week and his third overall honor. He was also selected player of the week on Nov. 20, 2006 and was the league’s rookie of the week on Feb. 28, 2005. He is one of only three Huskers to earn the Big 12 Player-of-the-Week accolade, and he became the third Husker to earn the honor twice. Venson Hamilton also picked up the award twice in his senior season in 1999 (in back-to-back weeks) while Tyronn Lue added two awards as a junior, his last season at Nebraska before making an early entry into the NBA Draft.

Maric is the first Husker ever to be named the conference’s player and rookie of the week in his career, and tied Kimani Ffriend for the most individual weekly honors by a Husker with three. Ffriend was the rookie of the three times as a junior in 1999.

Dagunduro is the seventh Husker to earn the newcomer-of-the-week honor and first since Marcus Walker was selected in December, 2005. Only two Husker newcomers have earned multiple awards, with Joe McCray being selected twice in 2004-05 and Ffriend.

Maric and Dagunduro earned the honors after helping the Huskers to pound Savannah State in a 45-point victory for the largest win under second-year coach Doc Sadler. Maric and Dagunduro’s defense helped NU to open a 26-2 lead to begin the game, including holding SSU to one field goal for the first 13 minutes of the game.

The duo then helped Nebraska knock off its second ranked non-conference team in two seasons, including NU’s first-ever win over a ranked team outside Lincoln with an 88-79 overtime victory over No. 16 Oregon. It was the highest-ranked non-league opponent Nebraska has defeated since topping No. 15 Michigan State in 1994.

Maric averaged a team-high 16.5 points to go along with 6.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game for the week. His top effort came against the Ducks, as he posted his third 20-point game of the season with a team-best 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting. Maric recorded 17 points after halftime. He shot 63.2 percent (12-of-19) on the week, plus 75.0 percent (9-of-12) from the free throw line.

Dagunduro registered 12.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game in the two victories. The junior had 15 points and seven rebounds versus Oregon, helping NU hold the Ducks to 12 points below their season scoring average. He added nine points, four rebounds and four steals earlier in the week. 

In addition to Maric and Dagunduro’s individual awards, the Nebraska men’s basketball team was selected as the ‘Team of the Week’ by ESPN.com national basketball writer Andy Katz, on Monday, Dec. 17. The honor came after Nebraska’s thrilling 88-79 overtime victory over No. 16 Oregon last Saturday at the Qwest Center Omaha. Katz noted the Huskers’ ability to take care of the ball (only seven turnovers) and solid defensive effort (18 Oregon turnovers) as reasons for earning the weekly honor. ESPN's Jay Bilas also honored Maric on his weekly honor roll first team and Ryan Anderson (21 points and four steals) on his second team.

Voters in the Associated Press poll also took notice, as Nebraska received two votes in the Dec. 17, 2007, poll, one of five Big 12 Conference teams either ranked or earning votes that week. It was the second time NU received votes under Coach Doc Sadler and first time since earning one vote in week two (Nov. 20) of the 2006-07 season after Nebraska defeated then-No. 20 Creighton. NU lost its two votes the following week each time.

Prior to Sadler's first season with Nebraska in 2006-07, the last time NU received votes in the AP poll was Jan. 16, 2006, when Nebraska was 32nd with 18 points after defeating then-No. 12 Oklahoma a week before.

 

|+| Huskers Continue Strong Non-Conference Run

Nebraska improved its all-time mark under second-year Coach Doc Sadler to 9-1 in the month of November when it defeated IPFW. The Huskers then continued the strong surge into December, where they now own an all-time record of 10-4 under Sadler. Nebraska is just 6-0 at home in the month of December under Sadler as last season the Huskers played 6-of-7 December contests away from Lincoln. 

Overall, Nebraska is 19-0 in home non-conference games under Sadler since he took over the program last season. The Huskers are 4-5 against non-league teams away from Lincoln, including 0-4 in true road games.

The Huskers have won 24 straight non-conference,  regular-season games as the home team dating to a 73-72 loss to UAB in the 2005-06 campaign (including the Oregon game in Omaha). Nebraska is 86-13 in non-league tilts at the Devaney Center since the formation of the Big 12 Conference in 1996-97.

Nebraska is 378-120 all-time in the 32-year history of the Devaney Center, including 26 seasons with at least 10 victories.

 

|+| Under Pressure

Since his introductory press conference, Coach Doc Sadler has said that he wants to get to the point where his team can pressure the opponent for 94 feet. With an upgrade in athleticism, speed and talent, that philosophy has already come into play more often this year.

If the non-conference season is any indication, Sadler's penchant for a disruptive defense will be widely embraced by the players and fans alike. Through 17 games, Nebraska has forced 294 turnovers and recorded 150 steals. Eleven Huskers have posted at least one steal in a game this year, including five players averaging at least one steal per game.

Nebraska posted a season-high-tying 14 steals against North Carolina Central, equaling the mark set against Alabama A&M. The 14 steals are the second-most by a Husker squad under Sadler, trailing only the 15 against North Texas last year.

The 14 steals against NCCU made it three consecutive games with double-figure steals. The last time NU had at least 10 steals in three straight games was the last game of 2003-04 (at Hawaii in the NIT) and the first two games of 2004-05. The last time NU posted three consecutive games in the same season with double-figure steals was the first three games of 2000-01.

Overall this season, Nebraska has posted double-figure steals seven times. The Huskers have had at least nine steals in 11 games this year after posting at least nine steals in just four games in 2006-07.

 

|+| New Faces Gain Court Time

Despite returning eight letterwinners from a year ago, the Huskers knew there would be a completely different look to the squad this season. Among the 19 players on the roster, eight are scholarship newcomers. There are also two walk-ons who redshirted last year in the program  and one new invited walk-on.

Two newcomers – junior Ade Dagunduro and freshman Cookie Miller – have been fixtures in the Huskers' starting lineup this season. Dagunduro started the first 16 games this season before coming off the bench at Kansas, while Miller has been in the lineup for the opening tip in all but one contest. Junior college transfer Steve Harley also started four contests for the Huskers, including the game against KU in Lawrence, making him the third newcomer to join the starting five.

Overall, Sadler has played a total of six players this season who had never worn a Nebraska uniform before. Along with the trio that has earned starts, newcomer Shang Ping, a junior college product, and redshirts Cole Salomon and Andrew Wicklund have all come off the bench for the Huskers. Miller and Dagunduro have played in every contest and Harley has missed just one, with all three averaging better than 20 minutes per game. Salomon and Wicklund are walk-ons who made their first career appearances this season.

 

|+| Aussie Honors

After a solid junior campaign that saw him average 18.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, center Aleks Maric was the top returning scorer and rebounder in the Big 12 Conference and will contend for All-America honors this winter.

A second-team all-league selection following last season, Maric was named an Athlon Sports magazine third-team  preseason All-American this fall and was a member of the  preseason All-Big 12 team selected by the coaches. If he picks up All-America honors, Maric would become just the ninth Husker ever to earn postseason All-America honors and the first since Carl McPipe in 1978.

In addition to the preseason honors, Maric is among 50 players named to the initial watch lists for two prestigious player-of-the-year honors, the Wooden Award and the Naismith Trophy.

 

|+| Returning to Form

After averaging better than 18 points and nine rebounds a game as a junior, center Aleks Maric was one of the top returning players in the country entering the 2007-08 campaign.

Between players from BCS conferences, Maric was third among returning scorers from last year, trailing only Chris Lofton of Tennessee (20.8 ppg) and Sean Singletary of Virginia (19.0 ppg). Maric was also sixth among returning BCS conference players in field-goal percentage and seventh in rebounding average.

This season, Maric is averaging a team-best 15.6 points per game while Singletary has gained 18.1 points per contest for the Virginia Cavaliers. Lofton, a first-team preseason All-American, is averaging 14.5 points per contests for the Volunteers.

 

|+| Anderson Builds Solid Resume

Entering last season with only a handful of players with Division I experience meant that some newcomers would have to step up. The first to answer Coach Doc Sadler's call was Ryan Anderson, who despite standing just 6-4, played the majority of the season at the 4 spot and created offensive mismatches against opponents on a nightly basis.

As one of five returning scholarship players, the Seattle native is continuing to build a strong resume as one of the Huskers' top all-around players. A starter in every game this year, Anderson has averaged 8.9 points per game this year to rank third on the squad and has pulled down 5.6 rebounds per contest, second only to Aleks Maric's 8.2 boards per game. Anderson owns the team lead with 26 3-pointers and has been on the floor more than anyone, averaging a team-high 27.4 minutes per contest.

Anderson posted his most complete game against then-No. 16 Oregon, when he poured in 21 points on 5-of-9 shooting and added nine rebounds and four steals as the Huskers knocked off the nationally ranked Ducks. Two weeks earlier, Anderson knocked down four 3-pointers on his way to 14 points with seven rebounds and two steals against Arizona State, helping the Huskers go 2-0 against the Pac-10 this season.

Anderson put up some of his best games against the top competition last year as he averaged a team-best 15.8 points over four games in 2006-07 against ranked teams while hitting 55.0 percent from the floor.

In his career, Anderson has faced seven ranked teams and averaged 14.1 points per contest (99 total points).

 Last year, Anderson was second on the team with 10.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game, while ranking among the top 10 freshmen all-time at Nebraska in points scored, field goals, rebounds, 3-pointers and steals.

Anderson was second on the squad with 48 3-pointers in 2006-07, the second-highest total by a freshman in Nebraska history. He tied the NU single-game 3-point percentage record with a 5-for-5 effort from beyond the arc at Rutgers and equalled NU freshman record with seven treys against Hawaii.

 

|+| Strowbridge on the Mark

Sophomore guard Jay-R Strowbridge received great praise from Coach Doc Sadler during the preseason as one of the most improved players on the team. While injury has set him back twice this season, including the week before the start of conference play, Strowbridge has again proven to be one of the Huskers' top 3-point shooters.

After setting a blistering pace as a rookie last season, Strowbridge has hit at a 39.0 percent clip from beyond the arc this season, knocking down 16-of-41 3-point attempts. While it is behind last year's average that ranks third in single-season history and first in the NU freshman record book (47.3 percent, 25-of-54), Strowbridge still owns a career mark of 43.2 percent (41-of-95).

With 95 attempts in his career, Strowbridge now qualifies for the Nebraska career record where he moved into second all-time just behind Brian Conklin, who knocked down 43.2 percent in his career (176-of-407). Strowbridge's career mark is also ahead of NU's career 3-point leader Cary Cochran, who hit 268-of-630 attempts from long range.

 

Nebraska Career 3-point Pct. (min. 90 attempts)

Rank           Player (seasons)                  3FG      3PA      Pct.

1.   Brian Conklin (2001-04)                    176       407       .4324

2.   Jay-R Strowbridge (2007-pres.)         41         95         .4316

3.   Cary Cochran (1999-2002)                 268       630       .425

4.   Clifford Scales (1988-91)             45   110       .4091

5.   Ryan Anderson (2007-pres.)              74         181       .4088

6.   Henry T. Buchanan (1987-88)     67   165       .406

7.   Chris Cresswell (1990-92)                 103       261       .395

8.   Marcus Perry (2006-07)                    98         249       .394

9.   Paul Velander (2006-pres.)               49         126       .389

10.  Ray Richardson (1989-90)                 105       278       .378

 

|+| Making History

Coach Doc Sadler is quickly making a name for himself at Nebraska. Last season, he was the third-winningest first-year coach in program history by helping the Huskers to 17 victories.

This year, Sadler became one of only two coaches in program history to win at least three straight games to open the season in each of his first two years on the Husker bench. He joined E.O. 'Jumbo' Stiehm who opened 1911-12 and 1912-13 with five victories each year.

This is the third consecutive season Nebraska opened with three wins in the first three games. The last time Nebraska won at least three contests to open a campaign in three straight seasons was 1977-78 to 1979-80.

Sadler already owns 28 victories as Nebraska's head coach and is 13th overall in victories at Nebraska (among 26 all-time NU head coaches). A quick look at Nebraska's head coaches and their win totals through their first two years in Lincoln puts Sadler in a tie for fifth place all-time heading into this week's contest at Colorado.

|+| One for the Record Book

Already among the best centers all-time at Nebraska, Aleks Maric became only the second player in NU history to record at least 1,000 points and 600 rebounds before the end of his junior season. He finished last year with 1,111 points and 680 rebounds.

Entering Wednesday's contest with Missouri, Maric now has 1,376 career points and 820 rebounds. By matching his production from last year (556 points, 260 rebounds), Maric would finish his career ranked fifth all-time on the Nebraska scoring chart. He is currently second all-time in rebounds, and will finish in that spot as he trails the all-time leader, Venson Hamilton, by 260 boards.

 

|+| Newcomers Earn Praise

While they still have a lot to prove on the floor, the newest group of Huskers were welcomed to Lincoln with impressive fanfare by the recruiting analysts. As a group, this year's recruiting class was ranked among the top 25 in the country by several top analysts, including No. 11 by Van Coleman (CSTV.com) and No. 21 by Bob Gibbons (ESPN.com). Clark Francis of HoopScoop had the Huskers as high as No. 5 among early signing classes.

Individually, several new Huskers joined the program after all-star caliber careers in junior college and high school. Guard Steve Harley, a transfer from South Plains (Texas) College, was a two-time All-American, including earning first-team honors last year, and was ranked No. 4 in the country among guards by nbadraft.net. Shang Ping was ranked No. 8 at small forward by the same service. Alonzo Edwards was No. 18 among small forwards and in the top 125 overall  by ESPN.com.

 

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