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November 21, 2009

Offense comes alive in 90-77 victory over TCU

It was a scoring explosion of sorts in the Bob Devaney Center on Saturday, as Nebraska's shooters came alive in a 90-77 victory over Texas Christian.

In their best offensive game in nearly four years, several Huskers put up stellar individual performances in the win.

Led by a team-high 22 points from redshirt freshman center Jorge Brian Diaz, sophomore guard Brandon Richardson scored a career-high 15 points and senior guard Sek Henry did a little bit of everything, finishing with 11 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds and three steals.

Senior Ryan Anderson added 15 points and four steals, while forward Quincy Hankins-Cole scored 10 off the bench. The last time the Huskers scored more than 90 points came in a 93-77 win over Colorado back in February 2006.

Despite the breakout day on the offensive end, head coach Doc Sadler said he was more concerned than anything because of his team's effort on defense.

"I know a lot of people are going to be talking about how many points we've scored, but the frustrating thing is and the scary thing is how hard we've worked on defense, and that's what we've got," Sadler said. "We've got a lot of work to do. There's not going to be any game that's not going to be new for us. That's where we're at."

Though both teams started off a bit cold offensively, there was no shortage of scoring in the first half, as the teams combined for 88 points and both shot better than 50 percent from the field.

Nebraska was the first to jump out to an early big lead, as Diaz led a 14-5 run that gave the Huskers a 30-21 advantage, its largest lead of the half. Diaz accounted for seven of the 14 points during the run.

Diaz, who was replaced by Richardson in the starting lineup because Sadler wanted to come out with a more aggressive starting five, missed Wednesday and Thursday's practices to let his two front teeth heel after getting them knocked loose against Saint Louis on Wednesday.

Even so, Diaz said the Huskers came into the game wanting to get the ball to the post as much as possible, and he definitely took advantage of the opportunity.

"Since we first started, Doc said we have to get the ball to the paint to free up a bit the guards," Diaz said. "It worked today, so I'm very happy that he told us to get the ball in the paint and I could do the job. I'm happy for that."

The lead didn't last long, though, as TCU quickly responded with a 13-0 run of its own with the help of three 3-pointers. By the end of the rally, the Horned Frogs had taken a 36-30 lead with 5:31 to play in the half.

The Huskers were able to battle back to close out the half and took a one-point lead on a 3-pointer by freshman Ray Gallegos from the corner with 1.9 seconds left, but a questionable foul on freshman Brandon Ubel on the ensuing inbound pass allowed TCU's Zvonko Buljan to hit a free throw and send the game into halftime tied at 44-44.

The teams traded leads through the majority of the second half, but things definitely got interesting in the final five minutes.

With 4:47 remaining and the game tied at 67-67, redshirt freshman Eshaunte Jones drained a 3 from the top of the key to give NU the lead. Following a jumper by Buljan, Anderson sunk another trey and then added a pair of free throws to put the Huskers up by six with a little more than four minutes to go.

From there, Nebraska would go on to outscore TCU 27-8 down the stretch to seal up a much-needed victory.

The Huskers will look to continue their success on Tuesday when they play host to Missouri-Kansas City at 7 p.m.

"We got a win, so I'm going to be happy about that," Henry said. "I still think we have to do better defensively. They did score 77 points. But I am happy about the win and us overcoming what happened in St. Louis."



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