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February 5, 2014

No. 10 Michigan rolls Nebraska in 79-50 blowout

Nebraska knew exactly what it needed to do in order to pick up its first true road victory in more than a full calendar year against No. 10 Michigan on Wednesday night. Unfortunately for the Huskers, they didn't do any of it in a 79-50 blowout defeat that was essentially over from the opening tip.

After trailing by as many as 30 points in the first half, the Huskers (11-10 overall, 3-6 Big Ten) spent the rest of the game just trying to stop the bleeding in what ended up their second-worst loss of the season.

"It's embarrassing, right?" head coach Tim Miles said during his post-game radio show on the Husker Sports Network. "That's the way the guys feel. Michigan's a great team, and I felt like once they came out and they all were making threes, you could just kind of see this sense of us being rushed, like trying to keep up with them. What you've got to do is just do what you do, and unfortunately we even got some wide-open looks that just didn't go. Now you look up and you're reliving Ohio State and Creighton all over again."

If you were script the worst possible start Nebraska could have to the game, it would probably look a lot like what transpired through the first 20 minutes. Bad shots, missed shots, turnovers and poor defense all combined to the Huskers' worst first half since the Creighton loss, as they went into halftime down a staggering 49-21.

Michigan jumped all over NU to open the game by making five of its first six shots from the field and four of its first seven 3-pointers to take a 13-3 lead out of the gates. That lead would grow in a big way shortly after, as the perimeter shooting of guard Zak Irvin fueled what would end up as a 29-3 run over the next 11 minutes.

Irvin at one point made three consecutive 3-pointers during that stretch and ended the half scoring all of his 16 points on 4-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc, as the Wolverines drained nine threes on 52.9 shooting from long range and 62.5 percent from the field. On the other end, the Huskers literally couldn't buy a bucket, as they shot 32 percent as a team and 16.7 percent (2-of-12) from 3.

The second half didn't get any better for Nebraska, as Michigan started things off with four more 3-pointers and an And-1 to push the lead to 61-28. A basket by Glenn Robinson, who scored his game-high 23 points in his first 23 minutes of action, eventually gave the Wolverines their largest advantage of the night at 75-34 with just over 10 minutes still left to play.

The Huskers wouldn't come closer than 29 the rest of the way, and had it not been for Michigan going scoreless for the final four minutes of the game and NU ending on a 9-0 run, it likely would have been the worst loss of the Miles era.

"I said to the guys, 'There's two errors: there's acts of commission and acts of omission. Do you know what the difference is?'" Miles said. "One guy knew, right, and he said an act of commission means you're trying too hard and omission means you're just not doing anything. And I said, 'That's my problem. I don't see on some of you guys the determination. I don't see the intensity and the fire when things go bad that I'm going to help make this play.' That doesn't mean you have to gamble for a steal or whatever, but by God you better come up with a 50/50 ball. I said, who attempted a charge in the first half? Nobody. Who's on the floor for a loose ball in the first half? Nobody. That's not us."

Sophomore forward Shavon Shields led Nebraska with 13 points while Michigan native Walter Pitchford had 10 points and four rebounds. Freshman Nathan Hawkins had his best scoring night as a Husker with a career-high 11 points on three 3-pointers off the bench.

Now sitting at 1-9 away from Pinnacle Bank Arena this season, Nebraska will hit the road once again on Saturday when it travels to take on Northwestern at 12 p.m. CT on ESPNU.

"We're going to see the best defensive team in the league right now," Miles said. "In conference games only, Northwestern has the No. 1 defensive team in the league. They are long like Cincinnati. Not as long as athletic as Cincinnati, I'm not going to pretend that, but longer and better with those guards… We've just got to bounce back."

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