Future looking bleak?

The future is looking bleaker and bleaker for Nebraska's basketball season.

Huskers learning some tough lessons in Big Ten

The future is looking bleaker and bleaker for Nebraska's basketball season.

The Huskers lost at home to Minnesota 69-61 on Feb. 5 to fall to 11-11 overall, and 3-8 in Big Ten Conference play.

What's worse, they played without junior center Jorge Brian Diaz, who may not play again this season, coach Doc Sadler said. Diaz's foot pain is becoming overwhelming.

So is Nebraska's first foray into Big Ten Conference play.

Sadler said his team isn't showing the necessary toughness to grind with Big Ten teams. And it's showing.

The Huskers continue to suffer through scoring droughts and aren't coming up with enough defensive stops. They're allowing 74.8 points per game over their last five games, and have allowed their last three foes to shoot 49.1 percent, 45.1 percent and a season-high 54 percent.

With Diaz sidelined, and with Nebraska having let two winnable games slip away in the last week, is Sadler worried about losing his team?

"Oh, I don't know. I don't know what losing this team means," he said. "Losing games or losing effort? Yeah, I'm worried about losing games for sure.

"I think there's too much character on this team for them to quit. I mean, they're frustrated. There's a lot of basketball still to be played."

Nebraska hosts No. 23 Michigan on Wednesday, then closes a stretch of four games in 10 days with a game at last-place Penn State on Saturday.

"We've got a tough stretch (without Diaz)," Sadler said. "We've got to manage it somehow. Maybe we have to start playing some more guys. I don't know what the answer is. Obviously, we've got to go back and change some things and evaluate some things."


NOTES, QUOTES

--Doc Sadler said he'd hoped to get 15 or 20 minutes from hurting center Jorge Brian Diaz. Then the Nebraska basketball coach saw Diaz walk. Or, try to walk.

"His feet are just killing him," Sadler said, explaining why Diaz didn't suit for the Huskers' 69-61 loss to Minnesota on Feb. 5.

It gets worse. Sadler it's a "longshot" that Diaz will play again this season.

"Ya'll see him. He can't play. He can't walk," Sadler said. "You can't compete at this level with your feet killing you.

"He's tried. He's tried hard. But emotionally right now, he's frustrated, he's hurt -- all of the things that you would expect."

Diaz missed the final two games of nonconference play and the first three games of Big Ten play. In seven games since his return, Diaz is averaging 23 minutes, 5.7 points and 3.6 rebounds.

--Scoring droughts continue to haunt Nebraska. The Huskers had droughts of 5:21 and 7:32 against Minnesota in the second half, part of a 2-of-16 shooting stretch to begin the second half.

Senior guard Brandon Richardson said he thinks he knows part of the problem for the woes: Lack of teamwork.

"Someway, we've got to leave our ego at the door," Richardson said. "I don't think we're playing as a team right now, and it showed. That's something that has to be corrected in order for us to win.

--Nebraska's home loss to Minnesota on Feb. 5 was the Huskers' fourth Big Ten home loss this season, and their sixth overall. The Huskers, who host No. 23 Michigan on Wednesday, and have two more home games after that, haven't lost more than six home games in a season since 1962-63.

"We have struggled (at home). No question about that," Sadler said. "I don't know that we had our whole team in a lot of those home games, either. But that can't be an excuse."

BY THE NUMBERS: 40 -- Points in the paint Nebraska, without center Jorge Brian Diaz, allowed Minnesota on Feb. 5. In fact, all of the Gophers' final 24 points, over the final 10 minutes, were in the paint or at the three-throw line. That included five layups and three dunks.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We just didn't have it in us today. For what reason, I have no idea." -- Nebraska coach Doc Sadler, after his team's 69-61 home loss to Minnesota.


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