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December 11, 2010Nebraska's top goal coming into Saturday's game against Texas Christian was to put together a full 40 minutes of good basketball.
While the Huskers may not have been at their best for all 40 minutes of their 70-56 win over the Horned Frogs, they sure were close.
Led by a pair of double-doubles from sophomore center Jorge Brian Diaz (13 points, 11 rebounds) and junior guard Toney McCray (15 points, 10 rebounds), Nebraska had one of its best all-around performances of the season to improve to 8-2 on the year and pick up is sixth-straight victory.
"I think that was the best game we played all year," head coach Doc Sadler said. "When you put all the things together and maybe eliminate the first five minutes of the second half, this team played well today. Not that we played perfect by any means - we turned it over 17 times - we've got a lot of work to do.
"But at the same time, when you hold a team that's been averaging about 74 points per game to 56, you've got to be very happy with that effort."
For the second game in a row, Nebraska jumped out of the gates with a hot start. With TCU up 9-7 early, senior guard Lance Jeter, who also scored 15 points, drained a pair of 3-points to spark a 19-5 run that gave the Huskers a 26-15 lead with a little more than 10 minutes to go in the first half.
Nebraska hit four 3s during the rally, and ended the half shooting 5-of-9 from beyond the arc.
The Horned Frogs were able to cut the lead to as few as six, and NU managed just seven points in the final 8:53 of the half, but went into halftime with a 33-24 advantage.
Diaz had one of his best halves of the season, scoring seven points with eight rebounds and two blocks. McCray came off the bench and had eight of his 10 rebounds in the first half.
"I thought our offense flowed about as well as it's flowed all year," Sadler said. "With Toney McCray moving into that (sixth man) spot, there's so many other things you can do with it. I don't expect him to go 4-for-4 every game at the 3, but he was very active going to boards. I thought Toney and Brian Diaz were really good."
Just like they did on Wednesday against Alcorn State, however, the Huskers came out sluggish to start the second half. Nebraska didn't score a point through the first four minutes of the second half, and TCU was able to take its first lead since the beginning of the game on a pair of 3-pointers by Ronnie Moss and Garlon Green.
In fact, Nebraska managed just seven points from the 8:53 mark in the first half to 15:37 left in the second half. That dry spell and NU's 17 turnovers on the day were two of the more glaring downsides of the game.
Just when it seemed like nothing was going to go right for Nebraska in the second half, Diaz stepped up and scored six of NU's next eight points to keep it a one-possession game.
With the Horned Frogs up 42-41 with 12:40 to play, the Huskers finally got things going and erupted for an 18-3 run to take their biggest lead of the game at 59-45 with 6:38 remaining.
From there, it was all cruise control for Nebraska, as TCU never came within 13 points the rest of the game.
Senior guard Drake Beranek also had a nice game off the bench for the Huskers with eight points, while Moss led TCU with 14 points and five rebounds.
Nebraska won't return to action again until next Saturday when it plays host to Eastern Washington at 6 p.m.
"I think this basketball team is a team that it's going to be different guys on different nights," Sadler said. "The good thing was when you looked down the bench, everybody was pulling for each other. There wasn't anyone sulking about their playing time or wished they would've done this or done that, so that's always a positive.
"The fact of the matter is after this week is when this basketball team has to become really good."