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2009 Jan 25

OSU In Review

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By SMcKewon

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The wrap-up from Nebraska's 76-74 loss to Oklahoma State.

Bottom Line: Nebraska will shake its head in regret over this loss. Much like Baylor game last season, the Huskers had a potential NCAA Tourney team - and the Cowboys just might be - on the ropes, but couldn't finish. In the last five minutes of regulation and overtime, NU really need a low-post threat to take some heat off of the perimeter shooters. The Huskers just don't have one.

Stud: Guard Cookie Miller. He played 42 minutes, scored 17 points, made every crucial free throw and is the one guy the Huskers can absolutely, positively count on to play with energy from the opening tip. Plus, Miller makes Nebraska hard to trap in the backcourt. And to think - he's just a sophomore.

Unsung: Brandon Richardson. Eight points and terrific defense in spot duty. This kid, once his shooting shoulder gets healthy, will shock some unsuspecting Big 12 teams in the last half of the conference season. He has all-league potential once he trusts his shot. Believe it.

Play of the Game: It belongs to the Cowboys' guard Byron Eaton, who beat Miller to the basket for a layup to give OSU a 76-73 lead in overtime.

Clever Coaching Move: Again to Okie State. First-year coach Travis Ford consistently fed the ball to forward Marshall Moses, who got easy baskets en route to 18 points. Unless Doc Sadler had decided to play Brian Diaz - and he didn't - the Huskers really had no counter for Moses' girth and height.

Second Guess: Should Doc have played Diaz? We think yes, he probably should have. Sadler said afterward that he was concerned the 6-11 freshman would get lost on defensive switches, freeing up OSU for open looks. Maybe that's true. But here's the thing: The Cowboys made 55 percent of their shots anyway and scored 40 points in the paint.

We respect Sadler's stance on Diaz. We simply felt that, possibly, there was an opening in the second half.

One other thing: Yes, Ade Dagunduro was fouled on the game's last play when he rebounded Ryan Anderson's missed free throw but wasn't even able to attempt a shot. Duly noted.

But there were probably three factors working against NU in the moment:

1. Refs swallow their whistle on a play that looks like a scrum, which it did. The baseline referee did not appear to be looking at the play at all. Not the Huskers' fault, of course.

2. Nebraska had already shot 31 free throws for the night and hadn't made a field goal in more than seven minutes.

3. NU's shooters spent much of the afternoon - too much, in our estimation - asking for fouls after missed shots. The crowd followed suit. You'll get some calls, but not all of them, and very few of them in the last three seconds of the game.

Again, the game reminded us of the Baylor contest in 2008. Yes, Nebraska was robbed of a chance at winning by the Zeebs. But the Huskers could have taken human error out of the equation before overtime.

Next up: Kansas. Ah, the Jayhawks. They're young, athletic - and very beatable. If Nebraska can slow down KU center Cole Aldrich, it has a chance and home court advantage.

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