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December 6, 2011

Huskers fighting to keep season alive

There's not much more Nebraska can do after losing for third time in its past four games other than simply finding a way to get over the hump and doing it quickly.

It might be rare that a team's season hangs in the balance so early in the year, but the Huskers are at the point where suffering any more losses in games they arguably should win is no longer an option if they are to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive.

The good news is Nebraska has an all-but-guaranteed win coming up on Wednesday when it plays host to Florida Gulf Coast, but after that it travels to take on TCU on Saturday followed by home games against Alcorn State and Central Michigan.

It's fair to say that the Huskers need to win out in the rest of their non-conference schedule in order to regain some solid momentum heading into a brutal start to their Big Ten Conference schedule.

The question is: will the team be mentally able to regroup in time to do so?

"I can't really say right now, you know what I mean?" senior guard Caleb Walker said. "I'll be able to answer that once we play more games. That will show our confidence, if we're mentally prepared to bounce back. I can't say if we're automatically going to bounce back, but I think this team is going to be prepared to bounce back."

Obviously there's been plenty of frustration surrounding the Huskers during their recent slump, but if there is one shred of positive light to come from NU's losses to Oregon, Wake Forest and Creighton, it's that the Huskers were in position to win in the final minutes of all three games.

"It's definitely both," junior forward Brandon Ubel said. "It's definitely frustrating if you're not able to win a game, but yeah, we haven't been getting blown out or anything. We've had a chance to win in each one, and it just didn't work out. I think it's definitely both. There's obviously positives if you look at it from one way, but it's definitely frustrating if you can't get the wins."

Walker said the fact that Nebraska still has 22 games remaining on its schedule gives the team hope that there's still plenty of time to turn things around and save the season.

"I think the positive about it is we get a chance to fix it, and we're the only ones who can do it," Walker said. "We had three games that we definitely could've won that went down to the wire, but we didn't. So we can't hang our heads down. We have move on from it and try to get better."

Another aspect in the Huskers' favor is that they have 10 upperclassmen in their locker room to help keep the team focused and confident they can bounce back. Starting this week, those veteran leaders are doing all they can to keep their season goal alive.

"I don't think we're going to let things slip away," Ubel said. "We're a veteran group. We've all kind of been through this. We know it is a long season and there's still time, but we can't afford any more slip-ups, especially in non-conference play. We dug ourselves in a hole, but there's a long time left to get ourselves out of it."

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