February 21, 2009

NU wants same game, different result versus Kansas

If Nebraska head coach Doc Sadler had it his way, today's game against No. 15/18 Kansas would go exactly the way it did the first time the teams met in Lincoln on Jan. 28.


All except for the ending, of course.




PREGAME NOTES


Tip: 3:01 p.m. CST

Where: Allen Fieldhouse (16,300)

Head Coach: Doc Sadler 3rd yr (53-35 overall)

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


TV: Big 12 Network; ESPN FullCourt (Play-by-play: Mitch Holtus. Color: Rich Zvosec.)

Series: Kansas leads 165-71






Following the Huskers' win over Colorado on Wednesday, Sadler said that if his team could be within one point with 20 seconds remaining in the game - as they were in the first meeting - he would take it in a heartbeat.


Though Nebraska ended up losing in the final seconds 68-62, the fact that it was in a position to win that late in the game was exactly the way Sadler wanted it to play out.


In tonight's rematch in Lawrence, Kan., look for the Huskers to attack the Jayhawks with the same game plan of aggressive defense and ball control that held KU to its fourth-lowest scoring output of the season.


"We've got to play defense the way we've got to play defense," senior guard Steve Halrey said. "That's how you win on the road. You don't try to out-score anybody. We've got to play tough defense, and hopefully they miss shots."


The effectiveness of that defensive-minded approach wasn't anymore evident than in the production from Kansas center Cole Aldrich. One of the biggest concerns for Nebraska coming into the game, the 6-foot-11, 245-pound Aldrich was almost a complete non-factor.






Kansas (21-5, 10-1 Big 12)

3:01 p.m.


Nebraska (16-8, 6-5 Big 12)

Big 12 Network, ESPN FullCourt






























PROJECTED STARTERS



Nebraska 16-8




Pos

#

Name

Yr

Pts/reb

G

5

Sek Henry (6-3, 200)

Jr

8.6/3.1

G

4

Steve Harley (5-11, 180)

Sr

10.7/3.5

G

11

Ade Dagunduro (6-5, 200)

Sr

12.0/4.3

G

24

Cookie Miller (5-7, 165)

Jr

7.3/2.2

F

32

Chris Balham (6-8, 235)

Jr

2.2/2.6





Kansas 21-5




Pos

#

Name

Yr

Pts/reb

G

4

Sherron Collins (5-11, 200)

Jr

17.8/5.0

G

15

Tyshawn Taylor (6-3, 180)

Fr

9.2/3.0

G

12

Brady Morningstar (6-3, 187)

So

7.3/3.2

F

22

Marcus Morris (6-8, 225)

Fr

7.7/5.1

C

45

Cole Aldrich (6-11, 245)

So

14.9/10.3






Not only did he finish with just eight points, he was held without a single point or rebound the entire first half of the game.


Sadler said he didn't plan on doing anything differently against arguably the top center in the Big 12 Conference this time around.


"We're going to double the post, and we're going to double it from here on out," Sadler said. "He's getting double-teamed every game. It's not like it's something he's not seen or been used to. They're going to be ready for whatever we do for them defensively."


One thing the Huskers won't do today against the Jayhawks is to try to fluster them with a full-court press. While the press has become somewhat of a staple of NU's defense, especially at home, Sadler only needed to point to two games ago for why he had no plans on using it against KU.


In last week's trip to take on Missouri, Nebraska came into the game thinking it could create turnovers and throw the Tigers' offense out of sync by using a full-court press. Instead, the Tigers were able to continuously break the press and convert the most easy transition baskets NU had allowed all year.


"No, it won't happen Saturday," Sadler said. "I learned my lesson… It's hard to press on the road. You've got to be a lot better than the team you're pressing. I'm not for sure that's going to be the case on Saturday."


While the odds makers aren't giving Nebraska much of a chance of pulling off an upset on the road, a win would be invaluable for the Huskers in terms of their postseason aspirations.


After keeping their NCAA Tournament hopes alive with a win over Colorado, an upset of Kansas would likely make them an immediate bubble team as the selection process winds down.


It might be a long shot, but really, that's been the case for the Huskers all season.


"We're right there," Harley said. "It's in our hands. We've just got to go out there and perform."


WHAT TO LOOK FOR:


While Aldrich will get plenty of attention every time he touches the ball in the post, he won't be the only Jayhawk with a target on his back. Junior guard Sherron Collins will be just as big of a concern for NU's defense, as he comes into the game averaging a team-high 17.8 points per game.


To help counter Collins, the Huskers will likely try to trap him with a double team every time he gets the ball on the wing out in the perimeter. Look to see how well this works when both he and Aldrich are on the floor, as the Huskers must find a way to run double teams both in the post and on the outside.


WHO'S HOT FOR THE HUSKERS


Senior Ade Dagunduro scored a game-high 18 points in Nebraska's win over Colorado, and it could have been even more had he not missed several easy lay-ups along the way.


With Harley continuing to struggle offensively, Dagunduro has solidified himself as the Huskers' top scoring threat, especially when slashing to the basket. Unless Harley finds his rhythm again today, the bulk of the scoring will likely once again fall on Dagunduro's shoulders.


WHO'S HOT FOR THE JAYHAWKS


Collins not only leads the Jayhawks in scoring this season, he also ranks fourth in the league overall while adding 5.0 assists per game.


He's arguably the biggest reason why Kansas has been able to average 77.3 points per game this season, including 74.5 ppg in conference play.

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