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January 22, 2011

Huskers get out-muscled in 72-71 loss to Tech

It was a game Nebraska needed to win in order to keep its postseason hopes alive and well, and in the end, it was also probably one it should have won.

Instead, the Huskers let the game slip away in the final seconds when Texas Tech's D'walyn Roberts tipped in a basket with just 3 seconds remaining to put the Red Raiders up by two. A desperation half-court heave by senior Lance Jeter sailed wide, and NU dropped its third loss in its past four games, 72-70, on Saturday night in Lubbock, Texas.

The defeat also marked the 11th straight Big 12 Conference road loss for Nebraska (14-5 overall, 2-3 Big 12) and Texas Tech's first win over the Huskers since the 2005-06 season.

"It's disappointing," head coach Doc Sadler said during his post-game radio show. "As I told the team, at some point coaches and plays have got to step up and accept the responsibility that when you go (on the road) to play you've got to perform like you do at home. Everybody goes around talking about what we're doing, we haven't done anything. We've lost three road games. So it's on us."

In a game that featured eight ties and 14 lead changes, it looked as if Nebraska had the game won after junior guard Brandon Richardson was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 11.4 seconds left and NU trailing 70-68. Richardson hit all three free throws to put the Huskers up 71-70, but they still needed to hold off the Red Raiders for one last possession.

Texas Tech's Mike Singletary got the ball on the other end of the court with time running down and drove to the lane. His shot missed, but Roberts came crashing in behind him, caught the ball off the rim and laid it in the basket to put Tech up 72-71.

Jeter had the ball knocked out of bounds at mid-court on Nebraska's last possession, and he was left with one last launch from just behind the half court line that never really had a chance.

"You cannot give points up on the road like we did," Sadler said. "It's disappointing. As I told the team, it hurts. It's disappointing, but the fact of the matter is we didn't make enough plays to win the ball game."

The first half definitely wasn't the best 20 minutes of basketball Nebraska has played this season, but it was still good enough to see the Huskers take a 35-34 lead into halftime. While the Huskers seemed to control the overall pace of the game throughout the opening half, the Red Raiders were able to hang around with rebounding and some bad plays by NU.

Nebraska eventually got out to a 25-21 lead on a free throw by junior guard Caleb Walker with 7:30 to go, but Tech quickly came back on a 7-2 run and the lead changed hands six more times during the final minutes of the half.

A pair of free throws by Singletary with 52 seconds left cut NU's lead to 35-34, and the Red Raiders had a chance to take the lead at halftime when Ubel clanked a 3 with 30 seconds remaining, but Singletary missed a jumper at the buzzer.

By the end of the half, Tech had out-rebounded Nebraska 19-12 including eight offensive rebounds and eight second-chance points. When all way said and done, the Red Raiders ended the game with a 36-25 rebounding advantage, a 12-7 edge on the offensive glass and 17 total second-chance points.

It marked just the fourth time NU had been out-rebounded all season, and its previous largest rebounding deficit was just four.

Things only got worse for Nebraska to start the second half, as Tech came out swinging and jumped out to a 48-40 lead with a 7-0 run to early in the half. The Huskers were finally able to get things under control and eventually climb back to take a 62-57 lead on five straight points by Jeter and a 3 by Toney McCray with 7:30 to play.

Just when it seemed the Huskers had gained all the momentum, though, Singletary scored five unanswered points in less than a minute to tie the game and eventually spark a 10-0 Red Raider run. Senior guard John Roberson, who finished with a game-high 25 points, hit his seventh 3-pointer of the night to put Tech up 67-62 with 2:34 remaining.

A 3 by Jeter with 1:41 left brought the Huskers back to 67-66, and Roberson and NU's Eshaunte Jones traded free throws to make it a 69-68 Tech advantage with less than a minute to play.

Moments later, Singletary hit only one of two free throws to give Nebraska the ball back trailing by just two points. Richardson gave the Huskers a one-point lead with three straight free throws, but NU couldn't close it out in the final seconds.

Including Roberts' game winner, Texas Tech scored second-chance points on four of its final five possessions of the game.

Richardson was one of the few bright spots for Nebraska in an otherwise frustrating performance, as he finished with a career-high 20 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field and 8-of-8 from the charity stripe. Jeter followed up with a season-high 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting with five rebounds.

Singletary scored 14 points to go along with seven rebounds for Texas Tech, which shot 51.9 percent from the field as a team and 47.1 percent from 3-point range. The Huskers will have plenty of time to think about what could have been against the Red Raiders, as they don't return to action again until No. 10 Texas A&M comes to town on Saturday.

"The best team that played tonight won the ball game," Sadler said. "You can't come on the road and let a team shoot 52 percent from the field and 47 percent from the 3-point line and give up 17 second-opportunity points and expect to win. It's amazing that we had a shot at them.

"I'm not happy with anything. You didn't come out here to lose the basketball game, and we did. We've got to come back and do much better… We have a week off to think about this. It's not going to be any fun."

Around the rim

***Texas Tech's 27-of-52 shooting from the field on Saturday marked the first time an opponent had shot better than 50 percent against Nebraska this season.

***The Red Raiders also joined Missouri as only the second team to score more than 70 points against the Huskers in a game.

***As would be expected, Roberson's seven 3-pointers were the most by an NU opponent this season.

***After averaging 14 points in Nebraska's first four Big 12 games, McCray finished with just eight points on 3-of-8 shooting to go along with a team-high three turnovers.



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