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January 13, 2013

Hoops Gameday: Nebraska vs. Michigan State

Nebraska Cornhuskers

vs. Michigan State Spartans
Sunday, Jan. 13, 2012 - 5:00 p.m. CT
TV: Big Ten Network / RADIO: IMG Husker Sports Radio Network

Michigan State (13-3, 2-1 Big Ten)
Streak: Won 2
Last Game: Defeated Iowa 62-59
G Keith Appling (leads team with 14.2 points and 4.4 assists per game) Jr. 6-1 190
G Branden Dawson (averaging 10.4 ppg and 6.4 rebounds per game) So. 6-6 230
G Denzel Valentine (had team-high 4 assists in win over Iowa) Fr. 6-6 220
G Gary Harris (second on team with 13.1 ppg) Fr. 6-4 205
C Derrick Nix (leads teams with 7.3 rpg) Sr. 6-9 270

Nebraska CornhuskersNebraska Cornhuskers (9-7, 0-3 Big Ten)
Streak: Lost 3
Last Game: Lost to Michigan 62-47
G Benny Parker (played jusy 12 minutes in loss to Michigan) Fr. 5-9 164
G Ray Gallegos (shooting just 17-of-53 (32%) in Big Ten play) Jr. 6-2 181
G Dylan Talley (averaging 13.4 ppg and 5.3 rpg) Sr. 6-5 216
G/F Shavon Shields (averaging 7.6 rpg in three Big Ten games) Fr. 6-6 215
C Andre Almeida (played just 10 minutes off the bench vs. UM) Sr. 6-11 314

Get to the line

With the issues Nebraska has had all year trying to put the ball in the basket, there is no easier way to help provide an offensive boost than to draw fouls and get as many shots from the free throw line as possible. For whatever reason, the Huskers have been terrible at putting the ball on the floor and attacking the basket, leaving them taking too many jumpers and not putting any pressure on defenses. They shot just seven free throws total against Michigan, and they won't be able to compete in the Big Ten until they can get to the line consistently.
Overcome injuries

Nebraska got some of the worst news possible earlier this week when it learned forward Brandon Ubel would be out indefinitely after suffering a fractured elbow during the loss to Michigan. The 6-foot-10 senior is not only NU's leading rebounder at 6.8 rebounds per game and third-leading scorer at 12.1 points per game, he's also the team's biggest emotional leader on and off the court. As if that weren't bad enough, the Huskers also lost point guard Mike Peltz for the year after he opted to undergo season-ending knee surgery. For a team already struggling with a lack of depth, these blows might be too much for Nebraska to overcome.
Get tough

Michigan State may not have an enforcer like they did last year in Draymond Green, but that doesn't mean the Spartans aren't still one of the most physical teams in the conference this season. With a deep and big roster, MSU has been able to wear teams down in games, which is exactly what it did in its win over Iowa on Thursday night. Considering Nebraska has already struggled with its lack of depth and experience, the Huskers are going to have to try and match the physicality and energy of Michigan State for a full 40 minutes if they're going to have any shot at an upset.

Head coach Tim Miles' joking response when asked about coming up with strategies to improve NU's rebounding:

"What I've found, like when I was at Dolan (S.D.) High, is if you step on the guy's foot while he's trying to go up, then it's harder for him to jump. So we're going to put that in."
Junior guard Ray Gallegos on how the Huskers can move on without Brandon Ubel and Mike Peltz:

"Obviously it's disappointing losing both of them. We've just got to get together as a team and just have Sergej (Vucetic) step up and same with Andre (Almeida). That will be a really big key."

Michigan State 69-51

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