Opponent Preview: Nebraska

Nebraska heads to Minneapolis on March 3 a wounded, reeling basketball team. The Huskers have lost seven of their last eight, and are tied for last place in the Big Ten Conference.

Here's the thing, though. Minnesota has also lost seven of eight games, including six in a row. The Gophers' last victory came Feb. 5 -- against Nebraska, in Lincoln.

Minnesota had a hey-day in the lane in that game, as many teams have had against the Huskers recently.

Nebraska, meanwhile, continues to struggle on offense, especially on the road. The Huskers have scored 51, 65 and 34 points in their last three road games, and have won only once on the road in Big Ten action this season. That came at Iowa, a team that came to Lincoln on Feb. 29 and defeated Nebraska 62-53.

The Huskers do have a shot at topping Penn State and grabbing the No. 11 seed in next week's Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis, even if both teams tie for last place in the final conference standings.

ON THE SPOT: Was this Doc Sadler's last home game at Nebraska?

The head coach is firmly on the hot seat in his sixth season, which will end with a losing record for the second time in two years.

"I haven't really thought about that," Sadler said, when asked about his future. "I signed an extension last April and I plan on seeing that through."

He then added he didn't know what his future would hold.

"I just hope to get up in the morning and be able to take my kids to school," Sadler said. "If I can do that, I'll be a lot happier than a lot of people."


Huskers held to just 34 points

--Nebraska hit yet another low in offensive futility with its 62-34 loss at Michigan State on Feb. 25. It was the lowest scoring game of the six-year Doc Sadler era; the previous low, set on two occasions, was 39 points.

The Huskers' 34 points also tied for their third-fewest in a game since 1947, equaling their output in a 1948 loss to Kansas State.

--How bad was Nebraska's offense against Michigan State? Well, its 15 points in the first half matched a season low, and their 29.3 percent shooting set a season low.

Nebraska also tied a season low with two three-pointers, coming on 17 attempts. Many -- especially in the first half, when the Huskers actually were within single digits of the Spartans -- were open looks.

"We just couldn't make any baskets tonight," Doc Sadler said. "You go 2-for-17 from three, and I'm going to say 15 out of those 17 are shots that you would take any night -- wide open shots that we just didn't make. That was the biggest problem we had is that we couldn't score baskets."

--Nebraska has been implementing more zone defense in recent games, a look Sadler said he'll continue to use throughout the rest of the season. Against Michigan State, the zone kept the Spartans in check in the first half, when the Huskers trailed only 23-15 at halftime.

But Michigan State still shot 59 percent for the game, including 66.7 percent (14-of-21) in the second half. That came a game after Nebraska allowed Purdue to shoot 54.5 percent and make 13 three-pointers.

Hot-shooting opponents have become a trend for a Nebraska defense that last year ranked seventh nationally in field goal percentage defense, allowing teams to shoot 38.9 percent. This year, teams are shooting 44.7 percent, which ranks 235th nationally. Big Ten teams are shooting 47.1 percent against Nebraska.

BY THE NUMBERS: .187 -- Nebraska coach Doc Sadler's winning percentage in conference road games. In six seasons, Sadler is 9-39 against Big 12 and Big Ten teams on the road. The Huskers' lone road victory this year came at Iowa.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "What more can this team give you? They can't give me any more than what they're giving me." -- Nebraska coach Doc Sadler



--at Minnesota, March 3

KEY MATCHUPS: Nebraska couldn't keep the Gophers out of the lane in a 69-61 loss in Lincoln in early February. The Huskers have since implemented more zone defense to solve that help alleviate that problem.

FUTURES MARKET: What's become of Nebraska recruit Fahro Alihodzic since his suspension from an Iowa junior college team in December? Nebraska coach Doc Sadler said Alihodzic, a 6-foot-9, 240-pound forward from Bosnia, is currently working out in the Canary Islands, where he formerly trained with the Canarias Basketball Academy in 2008-09. Alihodzic and nine of his Southeastern Community College teammates were dismissed from the team for undisclosed reasons, causing the school to forfeit its remaining games. A former Fordham player, Alihodzic was averaging 15.2 points on 68 percent shooting and 7.5 rebounds per game.


--Junior F Brandon Ubel scored a career-high 17 points in a 62-53 loss to Iowa on Feb. 29. The 6-foot-11, 250-pound Ubel averages 6.3 points, but he's combined for 30 points in Nebraska's last two games. He was 7-of-7 from the field against Iowa; the rest of the team combined to shoot 26.6 percent.

--Senior G Bo Spencer started and played 33 minutes against Iowa after missing the second half of Nebraska's loss Feb. 25 at Michigan State because of an ankle sprain. He scored only eight points on 3-of-14 shooting,

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