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March 2, 2010

NU seniors go out with 81-68 loss to Colorado

On a night Nebraska's four seniors were supposed to remember forever, Tuesday's Senior Night against Colorado turned into a game they would rather forget as soon as possible.

After honoring seniors Ryan Anderson, Sek Henry, Ben Nelson and Chris Balham before the game, the Huskers went on to get downright handled 81-62 by a Colorado team that came in boasting a 36-game losing streak in Big 12 Conference road games.

In fact, no current Buffalo player or coach had ever been a part of a Big 12 road victory. Until Tuesday, that is.

Behind 12-of-17 (70.6 percent) shooting from 3-point range, Colorado was able to take a seven-point halftime advantage and raise it up to as much as 20 in the second half to all but completely run away with its first win in Lincoln since 2003-04.

The loss was Nebraska's 13th of the Big 12 schedule, tying the most ever in school history. The Huskers also lost 13 conference games in 1962-63 (Big Eight Conference) and again in 2002-03.

"You can sit here and give Colorado credit. They did shoot the basketball well," head coach Doc Sadler said. "But as I told the team, I am so, so sorry, and it's my responsibility to not put that type of performance on the floor. You've got guys like Ben Nelson, Sek Henry, Ryan Anderson and Chris Balham that have given so much to this program, and you're going to give up 81 points in their last game. It's inexcusable. Inexcusable on my behalf. It's not any one player's fault. It's not the team's fault. It's totally my responsibility. I'm just sorry to the fans that came out. We're going to get it corrected. We're going to get it corrected.

"I don't' ask a lot. I don't ask you to make shots, but we were going to compete. That's a character deal. Beyond basketball, in life, you've got to compete. It ain't going to be easy. It ain't going to be easy. I tell these guys all the time, they're growing up in a period where it's not going to be easy, and it's my responsibility to teach them better than I taught them. So we're going to get it corrected."

While emotions were definitely riding high for the Huskers as they took the court for Senior Night, it was the Buffaloes who opened the game with all the momentum.

By connecting on its first six 3-pointers and shooting 77 percent from the field through the first 10 minutes, CU jumped out to a 23-10 advantage by the 11-minute mark. The Buffs eventually built up their lead to 30-14 on a 3 by forward Casey Crawford with roughly seven minutes left in the half.

Nebraska was able to close the deficit just a bit by the end of the half, as a steal by Anderson was followed with a put back by junior point guard Lance Jeter to bring it to within seven at 35-28 with 35 seconds to go, which ended as the halftime score.

By the end of the half, Colorado had shot 7-of-9 (77.8 percent) from beyond the arc and 56.5 percent (13-of-23) from the field. The Huskers, on the other hand, shot just 36 percent from the floor and made one of their two 3-pointers of the half.

The second half went about the same through the first eight minutes, as Nebraska was able to cut it to as few as six on a couple of occasions, but Colorado always seemed to come up with a big 3-pointer to keep the Huskers at bay.

After a basket by Henry made it 46-40 with 13:43 to play, CU's Cory Higgins and Alec Burks responded by scoring 12 straight points to bump the Buffaloes' lead back up to 58-40 in a span of a little more than three minutes.

Nebraska made one final run with about three minutes left when a pair of 3's by Henry and freshman forward Christian Standhardinger sparked an 8-0 run and cut it to 74-62, but it simply wasn't enough to dig the Huskers out of the hole.

Anderson, who was forced to sit out the final minutes because of an ankle injury, ended his last home game with a double-double, hauling in 13 rebounds to go along with 10 points. Henry's line was a little quieter, as he posted nine points on 3-of-11 shooting from the field. Jeter finished with a team-high 14 points.

Burks and Higgins scored 19 points each for Colorado, while Crawford finished with a game-high 20 points on 6-of-7 shooting from 3-point range.

"It was pretty pitiful," Jeter said. "You have four seniors who gave their heart out to this program, and it's just frustrating that we've got to do it that way on a bad note. We didn't give the effort that they deserved."

With just one last regular season game to play Saturday on the road at Oklahoma State, Nebraska took a huge step back in its wishful goal of gaining enough momentum to make a splash in the Big 12 Tournament.

However, Sadler said the Huskers would take the first step in trying to salvage whatever momentum they have left by hitting the court at 5 a.m. Wednesday morning for practice. After an off day on Thursday, Sadler said the team might hold another 5 a.m. session on Friday as well.

"We go to work at five o'clock in the morning," Sadler said. "We're going to go to work, and we're going to work hard. We're going to work hard. We're going to work hard. Then we're going to come back Friday and we're going to do the same thing.

"We're going to go to work hard. It's the only thing I know how to do, is roll up your sleeves and get to work. Because that right there is inexcusable. Inexcusable. That's all I know to do is go to work, and that's what I plan on doing."



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