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February 5, 2012

Gameday: Nebraska vs. Minnesota

Nebraska Cornhuskers

vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers
Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012 - 12:01 p.m. CT
TV: Big Ten Network / RADIO: IMG Husker Sports Radio Network

Minnesota (16-7, 4-6 Big Ten)
Streak: Lost 1
Last Game: Lost to Iowa 63-51
G Julian Welch (scoring 10.9 ppg, leads team with 3.9 apg) Jr. 6-3 195
G Austin Hollins (averaging 8.8 points and 2.2 rebounds per game) So. 6-4 180
G Joe Coleman (averaging 6.1 ppg and 2.3 rpg) Fr. 6-4 200
F Rodney Williams (leads teams with 10.6 ppg) Jr. 6-7 200
F/C Ralph Sampson III (averaging 8.5 ppg and 4.8 rpg) Sr. 6-11 241

Nebraska CornhuskersNebraska Cornhuskers (11-10, 3-7 Big Ten)
Streak: Lost 1
Last Game: Lost to Northwestern 84-74
G Bo Spencer (leads NU in scoring, assists and minutes played this season) Sr. 6-2 196
G Brandon Richardson (scored career-high 25 points in win over Iowa) Sr. 6-0 190
G Caleb Walker (had eight points and four rebounds against Iowa) Sr. 6-4 205
G Toney McCray (second on team with 10.3 ppg along with 5.0 rpg) Jr. 6-6 215
F Brandon Ubel (leads team with 5.5 rebounds per game) Jr. 6-10 235

Step up on D

While Nebraska has finally been able to get things going offensively over the past four games, its defense hasn't exactly been its normal, stingy self. The Huskers have given up an average of 76.2 points in their last four outings, which is essentially unheard of from a Doc Sadler coached team. Minnesota doesn't feature the star scorer that some teams in the Big Ten Conference might, but the Golden Gophers do boast solid balance in their offense, meaning any player could be in for a big day in any given game. If Nebraska is to have any shot at saving whatever post-season hopes still remain, it's going to have to start with stepping up its play on the defensive end.
Get to the line

Northwestern's barrage of 3-pointers during Thursday's loss may have drawn most of the attention as far as what went wrong for Nebraska, but the discrepancy at the free throw line could be just as much to blame. The Wildcats went to the line 29 times in the game, making 24 of those attempts. On the other side, the Huskers were just 7-of-9 from the line as a whole. This area was especially obvious in the final minutes, as Northwestern made 19 of its final 21 free throws to keep NU at arms reach down the stretch and seal the win. Against a scrappy squad like Minnesota, drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line early and often will be huge for the Huskers today.
Bounce back at home

As rough as Thursday's loss to Northwestern was, Nebraska has to be able to put it behind it quickly, as Minnesota comes to town just three days later. As the Huskers' second game of a stretch of four games in 10 days, there is no time for NU to feel sorry for itself about its disappointing loss to the Wildcats. It's going to be a big uphill road for Nebraska to earn a post-season tournament bid, but there's no question that anything in that regard will have to start with a win today against a beatable opponent. The Huskers are well past the point of not capitalizing on every opportunity they can get, and this afternoon may very well be their last if they can't take advantage.

Head coach Doc Sadler on what went wrong against Northwestern:

"Bottom line, I didn't do a good enough job preparing them."
Senior guard Brandon Richardson on the Huskers recent defensive slump:

Coach was telling us about three games ago, our defense was at the top (of the conference, and in the last few games, it's been at the bottom… Guys have to take more pride, including myself. It starts with me. That's what we have to do."

Nebraska 68-60

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