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February 7, 2011
Road win won't come easy against talented Baylor
In the wake of its worst loss of the year against Kansas on Saturday, Nebraska must once again try to get its season back on track by doing something it hasn't done since March 7, 2009 - winning a Big 12 road game.
As if having to rebound from losing thee of their past four games wasn't enough, the Huskers will also be looking to snap a 12-game losing streak against conference opponents away from the Devaney Center when they travel to Waco, Texas, to take on Baylor on Wednesday night.
The Big 12 road losing streak is NU's longest since it lost 13 straight from March 2, 2002, to Feb. 4, 2004.
To make matters even worse for the Huskers, they'll have to try and rebound against one of the most physically talented teams in the country in Baylor. During his interview on the Big 12 coaches' teleconference on Monday, Nebraska head coach Doc Sadler talked about what makes the Bears a much tougher challenge than their 15-7 record may indicate.
"Going into the season, Baylor was one of the teams that was picked to be one of the top teams in the country," Sadler said. "I think (their win) Saturday (over No. 16 Texas A&M) obviously shows that they're still capable of being that. Everybody looks at the records, and as I say every week, the teams you played and where you played them has a lot to do with records.
"Baylor has obviously one of the most talented teams in the country, and when they click, they're awfully good."
Coincidentally, Nebraska's last league road win came in Waco when the Huskers ended the 2008-09 regular season with a 66-62 victory over the Bears. Back then though, Baylor's roster didn't feature two of the Big 12's best players like it does now in freshman forward Perry Jones and senior guard LaceDarius Dunn.
Jones comes into Wednesday night's game regarded as one of the nation's top NBA prospects, averaging 14.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. On top of that, Dunn leads the Big 12 with 20.5 ppg and 72 made 3-pointers on the season.
"Besides being one of the most talented teams in the country, they're playing with a lot of confidence," Sadler said. "Anytime you've got players like Perry Jones, who of course might be the No. 1 pick in the draft, and LaceDarius Dunn, who by the time everything is said and done may be the all-time leading scorer in Big 12 play, and then you add the fact that (forward) Quincy Acy is as hard of playing player as there is in the league, I mean, where do you stop?
"You can go through each one of their players and find something good about them."
While Dunn is putting up better scoring numbers, Sadler said there's no denying that Jones is arguably one of the best individual talents not only in the Big 12, but in the entire country.
Sadler said Jones's long 6-foot-10, 220-pound frame mixed with an unrivaled work ethic make him essentially a prototype for future NBA stardom.
"From the time that he was a sophomore in high school I think everyone knew that he was going to be a special player, because it looked like he really enjoyed playing," Sadler said. "Guys that enjoy playing, they have self-motivation to get better. Back in Duncanville (Texas), he'd always be in the gym working on something to get better. You knew that he was going to be a special player, and he's turned out to be what everybody thought he could be."
Since Nebraska's last Big 12 road win against Baylor two seasons ago, the Bears have won two straight over the Huskers, including a 55-53 win in Lincoln last year. This season, Baylor is 12-1 at home, with its lone home loss coming to No. 2 Kansas.
The Bears' 5-4 record in league play so far puts them in third place in the Big 12 standings behind only the Jayhawks (7-1) and No. 3 Texas (8-0), meaning the Huskers will have to go through one of their toughest challenges of the year if they want to get their season back on track.
"(The Ferrell Center) has gotten tougher with the better players that they've got lately," Sadler said. "There's not many people that can go in there and win, that's for sure."