January 31, 2009

Huskers look to get back on track against Tech

Nebraska head coach Doc Sadler and his players have stuck by his mantra that every game is equally important all season long. Considering how the past two weeks have gone for the Huskers, however, tonight's game against Texas Tech might be a little bigger than most.


The Huskers come into tonight's 7:05 p.m. showdown in Lubbock, Texas, losers of four of their past five games. Following an overtime loss to Oklahoma State last Saturday and a 68-62 loss to Kansas that was closer than the final score indicates, Nebraska (12-7, 2-4 Big 12 Conference) has now also lost four games by six points or less.




PREGAME NOTES


Tip: 7:05 p.m. CST

Where: United Spirit Arena (15,098)

Head Coach: Doc Sadler 3rd yr (49-34 overall)

Radio: Husker Sports Radio Network stations (Play-by-play: Kent Pavelka. Color: Andy Markowski.)


TV: Big 12 Network (Play-by-play: Brad Sham. Color: Paul Splittorff.)

Series: Nebraska leads 14-9






If nothing else, a win over the Red Raiders (11-9, 1-4) tonight would do wonders for a team in desperate need of boost in morale.


"I think it's important to get back on track and getting a win," senior guard Paul Velander said. "Definitely important. We work so hard, and it would be great to get back on the winning side of things. But you can't press that. You just try and block that out as a player as much as you can."


Following Wednesday's loss to Kansas, an emotional Sadler talked about how tough it was to see his team lose any game because of the effort its puts in day-in and day-out. However, it's that same work ethic that Sadler said would keep the Huskers from letting their recent struggles disrupt their focus tonight against the Red Raiders.


"If you didn't know the character of this team, it would be a concern," Sadler said. "But I think I get way too much credit for the effort and hard work that they put in. I think that's them. That's the character of them as individuals. I'm not concerned. I'm not concerned about that."






Texas Tech (11-9, 1-4 Big 12)

7:05 p.m.


Nebraska (12-7, 2-4 Big 12)

Big 12 Network






























PROJECTED STARTERS



Nebraska 12-7




Pos

#

Name

Yr

Pts/reb

G

5

Sek Henry (6-3, 200)

Jr

9.1/3.2

G

4

Steve Harley (5-11, 180)

Sr

12.0/3.4

G

11

Ade Dagunduro (6-5, 200)

Sr

11.4/3.7

G

24

Cookie Miller (5-7, 165)

Jr

7.2/2.3

F

32

Chris Balham (6-8, 235)

Jr

2.2/2.3





Texas Tech 11-9




Pos

#

Name

Yr

Pts/reb

G

21

John Roberson (5-11, 165)

So

14.4/3.5

G

20

Alan Voskuil (6-3, 181)

Sr

13.7/4.4

G

23

Nick Okorie (6-1, 191)

Sr

9.7/3.5

F

32

Mike Singletary (6-6, 230)

So

10.6/5.6

F

15

R. Lewandowski (6-10, 240)

Fr

6.2/3.4






While obviously there is no such thing as an "easy" game for Nebraska at this point, Texas Tech has gone through its share of lows this season as well. While they have been able to score fairly well, averaging 78.8 points per game this season, the Red Raiders have struggled defensively. Along with allowing 77.2 points per game, Tech has given 110 points or more twice this year, including a ridiculous 167-115 win over East Central University.


The Red Raiders are led by senior guard Joe Roberson, who's averaging 14.4 points per game while shooting 41.1 percent from the field. On top of that, Roberson leads the Big 12 in assists with 6.3 per contest.


Guard Alan Voskuil provides an equally dangerous scoring threat, as he's averaging 13.7 points per game.


"They're probably a team that shoots it a little quicker, plays a lot of different defenses, probably more so than what Coach (Pat Knight's) teams have done before," Sadler said. "If Roberson and Voskuil are shooting the basketball and then (forward Mike Singeltary) inside, they're a good team."


Though Texas Tech has posted a 10-2 record at home this season, Nebraska has won two straight over the Red Raiders, including a win off a buzzer-beater by Charles Richardson two years ago in Lubbock.


Going back to that game in Lubbock two years ago, the last-second victory snapped a five-game losing streak for the Huskers. Maybe another trip to West Texas will again prove the perfect remedy for the Huskers to get back on the winning track.


WHAT TO LOOK FOR:


Along with keeping up their overall morale, the Huskers must find a way to bring the same defensive intensity against Texas Tech's backcourt that has carried them all season. Sadler has stressed the past two practices that the Red Raiders may be able to score, but they aren't a very good ball-handling team.


If Nebraska's guards can frustrate Tech's backcourt and create some turnovers, they should be able to take the Red Raiders out of their rhythm offensively and create some easy scoring opportunities, which will do wonders for their confidence.


WHO'S HOT FOR THE HUSKERS


It appears that while Steve Harley has gone somewhat cold the past few weeks, senior guard Ade Dagunduro has stepped up and picked up the slack offensively.


Dagunduro dropped a career-high 24 points Wednesday against Kansas, and has scored 18 points or more four times this season.


WHO'S HOT FOR THE RED RAIDERS


Roberson is the unquestioned leader of Texas Tech's offense. When he's not scoring, he's setting up his teammates, as seen by his Big 12-leading assist numbers.


In a close loss to Texas A&M on Wednesday, Roberson had one of his best games of the season, finishing with 20 points, 13 assists, four rebounds and two steals in 40 minutes of playing time.

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