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December 1, 2011

Huskers look back on missed opportunities

Less than 24 hours after suffering their second non-conference home loss of the season, Nebraska was back at practice not only trying to figure out what went wrong against Wake Forest on Wednesday night, but how to move forward and improve from it.

After their 55-53 loss to the Demon Deacons, head coach Doc Sadler said the Huskers put on a "selfish" performance offensively and lacked the efficiency needed to win a game against a quality opponent.

The question Thursday was what could NU do to avoid playing the type of offense that saw it go just 6-of-23 from 3-point range and shoot just four free throws the entire game.

"I think we just really need to focus in on being a team again," senior guard Caleb Walker said. "Just get back to being the good team that we were of sharing the basketball and playing good defense. I think in these next three days we have a chance to do that."

While the Huskers obviously wanted to put Wednesday night's loss behind them and move on to getting ready to take on No. 22/26 Creighton in Omaha on Sunday, Sadler took look a back on the final minutes of the Wake Forest game and talked about some of the key moments that went wrong.

The first was Nebraska's clock management, as it took its final two timeouts with 1:43 and then 46 seconds left in the game, leaving itself with no timeouts on the final two possessions.

Sadler said his timeout strategy was thrown off when senior guard Brandon Richardson had to burn one while trying to inbound the ball late in the game.

The other issue was the Huskers not fouling on Wake Forest's final possession despite having a foul to give. Sadler said the plan was to foul immediately after the Demon Deacons inbounded the ball, as they were anticipating Wake to run a baseline screen to get the ball to forward Travis McKie in the post.

Sadler said he told Walker to foul his man as soon as he caught the inbounds pass, knowing the play would develop quickly and that would have been the best opportunity to foul without letting Wake Forest get a look at a shot.

He also told Richardson, senior point guard Bo Spencer and junior center Jorge Brian Diaz not to switch off on the screen. Diaz took some criticism for not fouling Wake's C.J. Harris as he drove to the basket for the game-winning lay-up, but Sadler said Diaz did what he was supposed to on the play and didn't switch off to guard Harris.

"Bottom line is we should have fouled him," Sadler said. "So yeah, we'd do that part different, but not as far as the management part. That's just bad on my part. I didn't make it plain enough, I guess."

As much as Nebraska would like to have those final seconds back to do over, the fact remains that it's now 4-2 on the season with two home losses it knows it should have won.

It's obviously still far too early for the Huskers to get down on themselves, but it's to the point now where the players know they'll have to do something soon to keep the season from slipping away even further away.

"It was devastating," Walker said of Wednesday's loss. "Any loss is devastating. If you don't like losing, it's always devastating. Last night I thought we were going to come in a little stronger than we did, but obviously it didn't go that way. Like I said, we have the opportunity to make it right.

"There's still a lot of season left, so I'm not going to say that just quite yet. We have a lot of games and a lot of opportunities to make it right."



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