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March 1, 2014

Hoops Gameday: Nebraska vs. Northwestern

Nebraska Cornhuskers

vs. Northwestern Wildcats
Saturday, March 1, 2014 - 4 p.m. CT
TV: ESPNU / RADIO: IMG Husker Sports Radio Network

Northwestern Wildcats (12-16, 5-10 Big Ten)
Streak: Lost 5
Last Game: Lost to Indiana 61-56
G/F Drew Crawford (leads team with 15.6 ppg and 6.6 rpg) Sr. 6-5 215
G Tre Demps (had team-high 19 points in loss to Indiana) So. 6-2 193
G/F Sanjay Lumpkin (scoring 4.0 ppg with 5.3 rpg) RFr. 6-6 210
G Dave Sobolewski (averaging 5.0 ppg and 2.5 apg) Jr. 6-1 180
C Alex Olah (had 17 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks vs Indiana) So. 7-0 265

Nebraska CornhuskersNebraska Cornhuskers (16-11, 8-7 Big Ten)
Streak: Lost 1
Last Game: Lost to Illinois 60-49
G Tai Webster (leads team with 2.1 apg) Fr. 6-4 194
G Ray Gallegos (averaging just 4.0 points in last seven games) Sr. 6-2 182
G/F Terran Petteway (had 13 points on 5-of-18 shooting at Illinois) So. 6-6 209
F Shavon Shields (had 8 points and 9 rebounds vs. Illinois) So. 6-7 219
C Walter Pitchford (scored just 2 points in loss to Fighting Illini) So. 6-10 234

Move on from Illinois

Wednesday night's frustrating 60-49 loss at Illinois was arguably Nebraska's most disappointing all-around performance of the season, as the Huskers never matched the Fighting Illini's energy and intensity from the opening tip. The biggest issue with the loss wasn't just the final score, but how the Huskers seemed to get so rattled when things weren't going their way, especially offensively. Nebraska has obviously struggled on the road over the course of this season, but the hope was it had turned the corner from let downs like that. For the Huskers to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive, they're going to have to come out with far more fire than they did in Champaign.
Grind it out

Just like it did in the first meeting between these teams in Evanston back on Feb. 8, look for Northwestern to try and slow this game down and make it as ugly as possible with long offensive possessions and aggressive defense. Nebraska was able to overcome a sloppy start to pull off a 53-49 win over the Wildcats for their first true road win of the season, and today should be fairly similar to that type of grind. One difference this time around will be the absence of Wildcat guard JerShon Cobb, who was ruled out for the season earlier this week due to injury. Cobb had 14 points and four assists vs. the Huskers last time, so Northwestern will have to find offense elsewhere.
Turn it around

While its loss at Illinois certainly didn't bury Nebraska's NCAA Tournament dreams, it left the Huskers with little-to-no room for error moving forward the rest of the season. Some believe NU could still lose one of its final three regular-season games and still be in the conversation, but with a trip to Indiana and a home game with Wisconsin looming at the end of the schedule, it's clear that Nebraska simply cannot afford to slip up against a Northwestern team it in every right should beat. The Huskers will have a sold-out crowd behind them as well as numerous former NU greats coming back for the first Husker Legends Weekend. Motivation will be on their side, but they'll have to make the most of it.

Nebraska head coach Tim Miles on what it will take to beat Northwestern:

"At this time of the year, you either have to win, or you can't afford to lose. I told the guys, 'You need to find the recipe to win.' We can't get outworked by Northwestern."
Sophomore wing Terran Petteway on what went wrong in the Huskers' loss at Illinois:

"They just wanted it more than us, really. You could see it. They got all the 50/50 balls. We've just got to get back in the gym, man. Get back in the lab and try to work on our game and get better and get ready for Northwestern. They just wanted it more than us tonight. Fatigue wasn't a problem at all."

Nebraska 60-59

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