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February 8, 2012

Gameday: Nebraska vs. Michigan

Nebraska Cornhuskers

vs. Michigan Wolverines
Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012 - 7:36 p.m. CT
TV: Big Ten Network / RADIO: IMG Husker Sports Radio Network

Michigan (17-7, 7-4 Big Ten)
Streak: Lost 1
Last Game: Lost to No. 9 Michigan State 64-54
G Trey Burke (scoring 14.1 ppg, leads team with 4.9 apg) Fr. 5-11 180
G Stu Douglass (averaging 7.5 points and 2.7 rebounds per game) Sr. 6-3 200
G Tim Hardaway Jr. (leading scorer at 14.7 ppg) So. 6-6 200
G/F Zack Novak (scoring 9.4 ppg with 4.7 rpg) So. 6-8 250
F Jordan Morgan (leads team with 5.5 rpg) Sr. 6-11 241

Nebraska CornhuskersNebraska Cornhuskers (11-11, 3-8 Big Ten)
Streak: Lost 2
Last Game: Lost to Minnesota 69-61
G Bo Spencer (leads NU in scoring, assists and minutes played this season) Sr. 6-2 196
G Brandon Richardson (had 10 points and three steals vs. Minnesota) Sr. 6-0 190
G Caleb Walker (had eight points and four rebounds against Iowa) Sr. 6-4 205
G Toney McCray (had 15 points and six rebounds against UM) Jr. 6-6 215
F Brandon Ubel (leads team with 5.5 rebounds per game) Jr. 6-10 235

Begin life without Diaz

As if Sunday's home loss to Minnesota wasn't bad enough on its own, Nebraska announced after the game that it would be moving forward under the assumption that junior center Jorge Brian Diaz would be out for the season. Diaz had already missed significant time with lingering foot problems, and after flaring up again just before tip-off against the Golden Gophers, head coach Doc Sadler and NU's training staff made the call to sit Diaz out the remainder of the year barring some sort of drastic change in his recovery. That leaves the Huskers with junior Brandon Ubel as their only experienced post player for the remaining seven regular season games. For a team that already struggled establishing an inside presence in the paint, the loss of Diaz is huge.
Control transition

Nebraska had been doing a good job all season of preventing teams from getting momentum going via the transition game, but that all fell apart against Minnesota. The Gophers were able to run up and down all day long against the Huskers, especially in the final 10 minutes. All of those breakaway dunks and lay-ups definitely took their toll, and NU looked as worn down defensively as it had all year. Against a Michigan team with a much more talented backcourt, ball security and offensive efficiency will be as big as ever for Nebraska, as the last thing it needs is for the Wolverines to get out and running.
Play with pride

Earlier this week, senior guard Brandon Richardson said the outside criticism that bothered him the most was that Nebraska's players had quit on the season. The problem is, with the effort they showed in a crucial home game against a very beatable opponent gave little reason for fans and others to think otherwise. At this point, the Huskers don't have a lot left to play for outside of getting hot and making a run through the Big Ten Conference Tournament. With a roster full of seniors, it's really all about pride for Nebraska moving forward. The Huskers are just one home loss away from posting seven home defeats for the first time since 1962-63. They're also on the brink of a second losing record in the past three seasons. Right now, it's all about pride the rest of the way.

Head coach Doc Sadler on the negative public perception of his job performance:

"I've not heard any grumbling. I couldn't tell you anything. I don't pay attention. I do this weekly (Big Ten teleconference) with you guys. Starting October 13, I never read a newspaper. I don't know what's going on out there. Don't care. You know? My concerns, believe it or not, are big enough to get this basketball team playing good. That's my only concern. Anything else, I can't control and I don't care to control. I'm not stupid. I know wins and losses - it's always good to have a lot more wins that it is losses, so we need to win some more basketball games."
Senior guard Brandon Richardson on the criticism that bothers him the most:

"That we give up. That's not the case. This team has been fighting hard ever since I got here, and even before that. People say that we give up, or we give up on the season. I don't feed into that."

Michigan 75-66

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