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December 12, 2009

Anderson shines in otherwise ugly win over Beavers

It was an offensive performance Nebraska head coach Doc Sadler will likely try and forget as soon as possible, but at least it came in a victory.

Despite shooting a season-low 36.5 percent from the field and 3-of-19 from 3-point range, the Huskers (7-2) were able to hold on long enough to pull out a 50-44 victory over Oregon State (4-4) Saturday night at the Devaney Center.

Senior guard Ryan Anderson had his best game of the season to lead NU, posting his first double-double of the year with 16 points and a career-high 14 rebounds. The only other real highlight for the Huskers was junior Lance Jeter's 11 points, as there wasn't much of anything to write home about except ending the night with a win.

"Going into the game, I knew it was going to be difficult to score," Sadler said. "You're playing a team that commits itself to playing the way they do defensively, and when you haven't really played a team that is like that, then you've got some concerns. They're holding teams to 58 points, so I knew we were going to struggle.

"Overall, I'm very, very pleased, especially after a day turnaround and preparing for the style that we had to play against."

After both teams sputtered through the game's first 33 minutes, Nebraska finally got a semblance of offensive rhythm going when Jeter and freshman guard Ray Gallegos connected on back-to-back 3-pointers to help take the biggest lead of the game at 46-36 with 6:21 left to play.

Prior to those 3s, Nebraska had missed its first 11 attempts from beyond the arc.

However, Oregon State slowly crept its way back into the game when Roeland Schaftenaar hit a short jump hook to spark a the Beavers to five straight points that cut the lead to 46-41 with 51 seconds remaining.

Desperately needing to get points on the board, Jeter hit a pair of free-throws with 40 seconds left to bump the lead back up to seven.

The Beavers didn't go down without a fight, as Seth Tarver got three points the old fashioned way to make it 48-44, but some missed free throws by OSU and a pair of shots from the charity stripe from Anderson with 3.9 left sealed the win for the Huskers.

What made the win even more impressive is the fact that the Huskers didn't score a field goal in the final 6:53 of the game.

"Like Coach says, it's kind of critical to have players like myself, (Sek Henry) - the seniors who have been through this thing a lot in conference games and all kinds of games - just keeping it calm out there," Anderson said. "We stayed composed, and I think that showed a lot of character of our team today."

The first half was about as ugly as it could get on the offensive end for both teams, and neither Nebraska nor Oregon State were able to get much of anything going with the basketball.

By the end of the half, Nebraska held a 24-19 lead, and the stats weren't much prettier than the score. The Huskers shot just 38.5 percent (10-of-26) from the field in the opening half, while the Beavers were somehow even worse at 30.4 percent (7-of-23).

Despite its poor shooting from the floor and 0-of-9 shooting from 3-point range, NU was still able to control the game for nearly the entire first half. The Huskers trailed just once before halftime for a grand total of 1 minute, 16 seconds.

Nebraska will try and hold onto its momentum from its two straight wins for a whole week, as it doesn't play again until Jackson State comes to the Devaney Center next Saturday for a 7 p.m. tip.

"I think it was a huge win for us. A huge win," Sadler said. "They're a team that's going to do very well in their league, and that's going to really help us."

Around the rim

***With his team needing someone to step up and carry the offense, Anderson came through with arguably the best all-around performance of his career, as he posted just his third double-double and set a career mark with 14 rebounds.

Sadler said Anderson's play was a credit to his tireless work ethic every time he steps on the court.

"It was unbelievable," Sadler said. "Ryan is consistently a guy who, as you well know, every game is going to bring it as much as anybody. The rebounds, he runs down rebounds. His energy is just contagious, but I see it every day from him. It's the intangibles that Ryan brings that's just as important as anything."

***Along with Anderson, there were a few other bright spots for the Huskers on Saturday, especially on the defensive end. Holding Oregon State to just 44 points on 36.7 shooting from the field and forcing 16 turnovers, there's little question that NU won behind the strength of its play on defense.

"Our defense, for the most part, has been very, very good, especially for this young of a basketball team," Sadler said. "We didn't put them at the free-throw line. That was something that we had done the last few ball games. If we can cut down the fouling and if we can cut down the offensive rebounds, then this can be as good of a defensive team as we can be. There is no question that it will meet all of its abilities, because they play hard."

*** Redshirt freshman Jorge Brian Diaz quietly had a nice game on the defensive end, as he finished with three blocks and three steals, marking career highs in both categories. He also hauled in seven rebounds and shot 3-of-4 from the floor to finish with six points.

"The good thing is that you see that he only got four shots, but you see he still made a presence inside a little bit, got some rebounds" Sadler said. "(The Beavers) were big, and he did some nice things."

***While the shooting from the floor was lacking to say the least for both teams, one of the biggest differences was Nebraska's free throw shooting down the stretch. The Huskers hit 4-of-5 free throws in the final 40 seconds to help hold off a late Beaver rally.

In their previous two games, the Huskers had shot a combined 66 percent from the line.



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