Official Husker Locker Blog
2010 Mar 10
BIG 12 TOURNAMENT: NU's Surprise Masterpiece
Faced with the long odds of winning four games in four days in Kansas City, the 12th-seeded Cornhuskers improbably - and impressively - took the first step with a 75-60 trouncing of fifth-seeded Missouri in Wednesday afternoon’s opening round at the Sprint Center, which spent most of the second half moaning in frustration and disbelief.
“Our guys understand there’s not much room between their back and the wall,” Sadler said. “We’ve got to come out and give everything we’ve got and see what happens.”
Well, one game down, with No. 4 seed Texas A&M on deck Thursday at 2 p.m.
For Wednesday night, Nebraska could enjoy being the second No. 12 seed in league history to win a game. Colorado needed double overtime to beat Baylor in 2008.
No such thing for NU, which never trailed, used a 16-1 run to bust open the game, and repeatedly made shots - often with the shot clock salting away - to keep the Tigers at bay.
“They pressured us and we executed offensively,” said senior guard Ryan Anderson, who scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
The biggest dagger was sophomore guard Brandon Richardson’s 4-point play with 3:36 left to pad the lead back to 14 when Mizzou had cut it to ten. The shot broke six-minute dry spell that the Huskers often seem to suffer. Fortunately for Nebraska, Missouri suffered through it, too.
“Our perimeter defense was pretty good,” Sadler said. “Therefore they missed some shots, and we were able to hold them down on offensive rebounds…I don’t think we can play much better defense.”
After pitching a bunk in the basement of the Big 12 with a 2-14 record - and ending the regular season with pitiable, double-digit thumpings to Colorado and Oklahoma State - NU played with pluck, patience and controlled aggression while Missouri (22-10 overall) settled for bad jumpers and pleaded for bail-out calls from the officials.
The Huskers (15-17) had four players in double figures, led by Richardson’s 19. They outrebounded the smaller Tigers 38-22 and held them to 34 percent shooting. Grabbing loose balls - of which there were many - is typically a Missouri specialty, but Nebraska held its own.
NU also busted Mizzou’s press enough to get open 3-pointers for Eshaunte Jones and Anderson and layups for center Jorge Brian Diaz, who alternately slipped behind screens at both the top of key and the baseline for 10 total points. When Diaz was flanked, the 6-foot-11 freshman found shooters three different times for 3-pointers. The last of them was Richardson’s rainbow late in the game.
“That’s a credit to Brian,” Richardson said. “They committed two guys to him, he kicked it out, I made a shot.”
See also: Five Keys to Texas A&M
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