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November 19, 2008

Defense comes up big in first road victory, 62-50

After a so-so performance in its season opener, Nebraska needed to come out and make a statement as to what kind of team it actually was when it traveled to take on Texas Christian on Wednesday night.

Judging from its 62-50 victory, in which the score really didn't show how lopsided the game actually was, the Huskers appeared to make that statement loud and clear.

In their first road of the season, the Huskers used a stifling defensive game and some clutch perimeter shooting to improve to 2-0 on the year. Senior guard Paul Velander was the only Husker to score in double figures with a team-high 11 points, while senior guard Steve Harley and redshirt freshman guard Toney McCray both followed up with nine points each.

"It's a great win," head coach Doc Sadler said during his postgame radio interview. "Anytime you can get a win on the rod, I don't care who you're playing against, I don't care what sport you're playing, you're going to leave happy. It's hard to win, and our guys, I thought, for the first game on the road this season, we showed some toughness."

That toughness came in the form of an all-around defensive effort that held the Horned Frogs (1-3) to just 10 made field goals and a dismal shooting percentage of just 27 percent from the floor.

A big part of that had to do with the fact that TCU went to the free-throw line 38 times in the game, and 27 of their 50 points came from the charity stripe.

"I can't be anymore happier with our defense," Sadler said. "You allowed a team on the road to make 10 field goals. Maybe it's because fouled them and put them on the free-throw line 38 times, but if that's what it takes, that's what it takes."

In jumping out to a 37-24 lead at halftime, Nebraska held TCU to shoot just 4-of-21 (19 percent) from the field from the field. However, the Horned Frogs were able to stay in the game by shooting 16-for-22 from the free-throw line.

The second half was much of the same, though at one point the Horned Frogs cut the lead down to seven with a little less than seven minutes remaining. Needing to regain some momentum, the Huskers found it in two 3-pointers by McCray and fellow redshirt freshman Brandon Richardson that helped bring the lead back up to double-figures and all but seal the victory for NU.

All in all, 10 Huskers played 10 minutes or more in the victory.

"I thought it was much better. I thought our offense looked a little bit better. We're still not good enough. I thought we took some 3-point shots early in the basketball game that we probably could've passed on, especially being on the road. But overall offensively, I've got to be pretty pleased."

Richardson ended the night with seven points in 16 minutes of playing time. Sadler said he was curious how his newcomers would handle the pressure of playing in their first collegiate road games, and he was pleasantly surprised with Wednesday's performances.

"You can never prepare them," Sadler said. "They have to go through it. You hope when they do go through it that they have some success. I thought that we had some guys that stepped up and made some shots for us that never had to take any, and they stepped up and made some shots.

"Brandon Richardson, Toney McCray, those two guys hit two big baskets for us. That's always a positive. You've got to really like the young guys and what they're doing for themselves and this basketball team."

The Huskers will return to Lincoln Thursday and begin preparation for Saturday's home game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff at the Devaney Sports Center at 1 p.m.



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