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January 19, 2010

It's gut-check time for struggling Huskers

When sophomore guard Brandon Richardson walked off the court following Saturday's home loss to Iowa State, he knew the following week would be one big gut check for him and his teammates.

After starting off 0-3 in Big 12 Conference play, Nebraska is in desperate need to get a win and get its season back on course. Unfortunately, they'll be looking to do so on the road in one of the most difficult environments the league has to offer against Missouri.

The good news is the Huskers have a full week to regroup both mentally and physically as they attempt to avoid their second 0-4 start in conference play in the past three seasons.

"It's tough, because we've worked extremely hard, and the past three games we came out on the short end," Richardson said. "It's been tough, but if everybody continues to work hard and come with the right frame of mind, we should get off to a good start on Saturday. Everybody's just got to come with that same mentality that we have to win.

Richardson said head coach Doc Sadler has made it a point of looking at Saturday's showdown with the Tigers as a chance to make up for one of the three losses that could have been victories had some things gone differently in final minutes.

In defeats to Texas A&M, Kansas and Iowa State, the Huskers were in a position to win in the final five minutes of each game but were unable to hold on and close out a victory.

"We kind of dug ourselves a hole," Richardson said, "so at this point right now, everybody has to come with the right frame of mind - come in ready to work and prepared, listen to the scouting report, listen to Coach's game plan and execute it on Saturday."

Sadler said he had hoped his team could have at least pulled off one win in its first three Big 12 games, but said the winless start has not been a result of any lack of effort from his players.

"You'd like to be 1-2. That'd be good," he said during Monday's Big 12 coaches' teleconference. "2-1 would have been great. But in all reality, I don't think we can play any better than we've played in any of the three games. As long as we continue to play as hard as we're playing, I think we'll be fine."

As has been said all year, Nebraska's youth and inexperience will likely be a hurdle all season as it's young players continue through their first run through the Big 12 and all the challenges it has to offer.

"When you're playing three and four freshman in this league, you're going to struggle," Sadler said. "But as long as the effort continues to be out there - we know that going to Missouri isn't the ideal situation to be going to to try and get your first win, but you know what? Going to any of the other 10 schools to try and get your first win wouldn't be ideal either.

"It is what it is, and we'll look forward to going hard this week and going and playing."



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