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December 31, 2011

Gameday: Nebraska vs. Michigan State

Nebraska Cornhuskers

vs. Michigan State Spartans
Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011 - 2:06 p.m. CT
TV: Big Ten Network / RADIO: IMG Husker Sports Radio Network

Michigan State (12-2, 1-0 Big Ten)
Streak: Won 12
Last Game: Defeated No. 15 Indiana 80-65
G Keith Appling (leads team with 5.3 assist and scoring 12.1 points per game) So. 6-1 190
G Brandon Wood (scoring 13.3 ppg along with 1.5 apg and 1.5 steals) Sr. 6-2 190
G Branden Dawson (averaging 12.5 ppg over last four games) Fr. 6-6 220
F Draymond Green (leads team with 15.1 ppg and 9.6 rpg) Sr. 6-7 230
C Adreian Payne (averaging 7.6 ppg and 4.6 rpg this season) So. 6-10 240

Nebraska CornhuskersNebraska Cornhuskers (8-4)
Streak: Lost 1
Last Game: Lost to Wisconsin 64-40
G Bo Spencer (one of only two Big Ten players averaging 15 ppg and four apg) Sr. 6-2 196
G Brandon Richardson (shooting a career-high 89.5% from free throw line) Sr. 6-0 190
G Caleb Walker (scored 11 points against Central Michigan) Sr. 6-4 205
G Toney McCray (led team with 16 points and 9 rebounds vs. Wisconsin) Jr. 6-10 235
F Brandon Ubel (averaging 9.6 points and 8.6 boards in last 5 games) Jr. 6-10 235

Score, score, score

There's no bigger concern for Nebraska as it enters Big Ten Conference play than figuring out a way to put the basketball through the hoop. The Huskers are coming off one of their worst offensive performances in head coach Doc Sadler's six season at NU, scoring just 40 total points against Wisconsin and just 14 points in the second half. It's incredibly obvious, but Nebraska has no choice but to step up its play offensively in a big way if it's going to have any chance at winning this game.
Contain the Spartans

As if Nebraska didn't have enough problems trying to figure out a way to score consistently, the pressure will be turned up even more today while facing a Michigan State team that's scored at least 80 points in its past three games. The Spartans were in top gear in their last game against No. 15 Indiana, scoring 44 second-half points en route to an 80-65 route. The Huskers' defense hasn't been nearly as good this year as it has been in previous years, but they would do themselves a huge favor by slowing down MSU and keeping the score as low as possible.
Find a way

Nebraska's introduction to the Big Ten couldn't have gone much worse, as Wisconsin simply dominated in every aspect of the game and gave the Huskers their most embarrassing loss in recent memory. Confidence is probably pretty hard to come by right now for NU, but this is a game where things can turn around in a big way with a strong overall performance to pull off an upset. It's going to take an absolutely outstanding effort in all areas, but that's the only way the Huskers can dig themselves out of their current slump.

Head coach Doc Sadler on his substitution pattern against Wisconsin:

"We wanted to pick up the floor. The first guy we decided to come with was Corey (Hilliard) just to get a little break. We were going to go with Corey, Brandon (Richardson) in for Bo to get Bo off the point for a bit. (Brandon) Ubel played about seven straight minutes there, almost eight and then I got him in after the first media timeout after eight. Brandon Ubel can't end up playing 35 minutes. I wanted to stay with him for four minutes or five minutes and then we had gotten into a little hole, but I knew we would need him for the last seven minutes of the half. I knew it would be hard for him, but that's just the way it is - we don't have the bodies for it."
Junior forward Brandon Ubel what NU needs to do to upset Michigan State:

"We just need to execute our stuff a little better. Run our offense, swing the ball from side to side, get the defense moving and spread out. When we did that, we got some pretty good looks and hit some shots. Especially (against) Wisconsin, when they play defense they like to pack it in the lane. To get them more spread out, you have to swing it from side to side and keep it moving, get them chasing screens and wait for them to make a mistake."

Michigan State 73-60

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