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January 27, 2010If Nebraska thought it was in a tough spot heading into Wednesday night's game at Colorado, then imagine how bad things are now.
After an absolutely dismal performance in the first half, the Huskers (12-8, 0-5 Big 12 Conference) simply could not recover and dropped their fifth straight conference game in a 72-60 loss to the Buffalos (11-9, 2-4) in Boulder, Colo.
The 0-5 start to the Big 12 schedule marks NU's worst start to league play since the 1989-90 season.
"I thought the first 20 minutes was the first time in several years that we didn't compete," head coach Doc Sadler said on his post-game radio show. "(Colorado) was definitely the team that was the more aggressive basketball team tonight. We turned the ball over 13 times in the first half, and this basketball team does not have the luxury of not being ready to play, and that's my fault. I did not have this basketball team ready to play in the first half.
"I thought at times in the second half we got after it pretty good, but that's too late. We've got to be ready from the opening tip."
Nebraska had arguably its worst start to a game in the Sadler era, as struggled to even make a single basket for the bulk of the first half. After junior guard Lance Jeter hit a free throw roughly three minutes into the game, the Huskers went on to muster up just eight points through the game's first 15 minutes.
In fact, NU went from the 17:46 mark of the first half all the way the 7:20 mark without making a single field goal and scoring just six total points up to that point. It also had more turnovers through the majority of the half.
The Huskers didn't break the 10-point mark until senior guard Ryan Anderson hit a pair of free throws with 4:56 left in the first half.
Nebraska finally got some sort of offense going when redshirt freshman guard Eshaunte Jones hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 18-13 with 4:12 to play, but CU freshman Alec Burks quickly put an end to it by scoring five straight points to help give the Buffalos their biggest lead to that point at 28-15.
A pair of 3-pointers from Anderson and freshman guard Ray Gallegos in the final minute helped bring the game back somewhat within reach going into halftime at 31-21. The Huskers shot just 36 percent from the field and committed 13 turnovers in the first half.
Things didn't much better in the second half, either. The Buffalos opened the second half with a 9-4 run to bump their lead up to 40-25, and didn't lead by less than 11 points until the final minute of the game.
A 3-pointer by Nate Tomlinson and two free throws by Burks gave Colorado its first 20-point lead of the night with 8:45 remaining, and that would be all the Buffalos would need to coast the rest of the way for the victory.
The only real bright spot for the Huskers was freshman forward Christian Standhardinger, who was the only NU player to score in double figures with a team-high 14 points off the bench, all of which coming in the second half. Burks led the way for Colorado with a game-high 21 points.
Nebraska returns home Saturday when it plays host to Oklahoma (12-8, 3-3), as it will try to salvage what it can for the rest of the season and hopefully pick up its first Big 12 victory of the season.
Considering the way the played on Wednesday night, though, there might not be much of anything left to salvage at this point.
"We just can't worry about the 11 ball games (remaining in the regular season), we've got to get over it by Saturday," Sadler said. "I thought our practices have been better, but not much better than they've normally been. What we're doing in practice is obviously not working, and we've got to try and find something to do a little bit different. This team has got to get tougher. We weren't ready to play."