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January 23, 2010

Losing skid continues as NU falls to Missouri, 70-53

It was no secret that Nebraska would need a lot of things to go its way in order to snap Missouri's 30-game home winning streak on Saturday.

Unfortunately, not nearly enough of them did.

The Huskers (12-7 overall, 0-4 Big 12 Conference) stayed with the Tigers (15-4, 3-1) up until midway through the second half, but they simply didn't have enough gas in the tank to keep up down the stretch, falling 70-53 to remain the only Big 12 team without a win in conference play.

Missouri guard Miguel Paul scored 10 of his 15 points during a 15-1 run in the second half that broke open a game that was close for the first 30 minutes. Once again, free throw shooting was an issue for NU, as the Tigers ended up making more free throws (18-of-21) than the Huskers even attempted (13-of-17).

"I'm standing there telling (the team) I'm very happy with the effort, but losing is unacceptable, and until we correct four or five things, it's not going to get corrected," Sadler said during his post-game radio interview. "Again, the opposing team made more free throws than we attempted. That's something that we're trying to address.

"I don't know. We've just got to continue to work. That's all I know what to do."

The Huskers were able to hang tough after a rough start to the game, as they rallied back from a 20-13 deficit and eventually took their first lead of the game on a 3-pointer by senior guard Sek Henry with three minutes left in the half to make it 24-23.

The Tigers eventually responded with a 3 by sophomore guard Marcus Denmon with 1:18 to go to reclaim the lead, and then they scored again with 26 seconds left to go up 28-24.

Nebraska ran the clock down for the final shot of the half, but was forced to run a play off an inbounds pass from the baseline with 1.5 seconds to play after the ball was knocked out of bounds. Fortunately for the Huskers, senior Ryan Anderson hit a fade away as time expired to end the half trailing just 28-26.

Despite another slow start to the second half, Nebraska was able to keep the game close with the help of from freshman guard Ray Gallegos, who scored all eight of his points during the stretch. After once again falling behind by as many as nine points, the Huskers chipped away and eventually cut the deficit to 47-44 with a little more than eight minutes left on the clock.

However, after missing a potential game-tying 3-pointer on the ensuing possession, the game slowly started to slip away from the Huskers.

Seemingly unable to hit a shot from the field for the final eight minutes of the game, Nebraska saw a potential upset win into a blowout loss. Missouri's shooting came alive in the final minutes, and the Tigers ended up closing out the game on a 23-9 run.

Henry led NU with 15 points, while sophomore guard Brandon Richardson added 11 points and five assists.

"I'm not unhappy with any of our guys," Sadler said. "They're doing everything I'm asking. It's just we're having those four or five minute spells that you can't afford to have. At some point you have to correct it, and we're not correcting it.

"We've got to continue to work hard. It's not getting any easier. We can't continue to have the four or five minute spells where things don't go the way we need them to."

The road doesn't get any easier for the Huskers, as they will travel to take on a much-improved Colorado team (10-9, 1-4) on Wednesday at 9 p.m. CT. A fifth straight loss could very well put an end to any of NU's post-season aspirations.

"It doesn't get any easier, does it?" Sadler said. "I picked Colorado to finish eighth this year (in the Big 12). They're proving to people that they're capable of winning every ball game. It's not going to get any easier. The fact of the matter is we've got to just continue to put our noses to the grind and get things corrected. It's not that we're making many mistakes, but the one thing that we're not doing is finishing plays and finishing games, and that's something we've got to do."

NOTE:

Sadler commented on not playing freshman forward Christian Standhardinger on Saturday, though he did not go into any specifics as to the reason for his benching.

"Christian's situation was my decision," Sadler said. "There's certain things that we're going to do in this program, and we're going to do it the right way. There's been too many people that have been before us. That was a decision that I made, so therefore it opened up an opportunity for someone else."



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