Nebraska vs Iowa

According to multiple reports, senior point guard Bo Spencer appears ready to go tonight against rival Iowa.

Nebraska entered the season with serious aspirations for the school's first NCAA Tournament berth since 1998.

Now, entering the final week of the regular season, the Huskers are simply trying to avoid a losing record. It would be their second losing record in three seasons, and the biggest reason sixth-year coach Doc Sadler may not keep his job.

Nebraska (12-15, 4-12 Big Ten) would need to win its final two games -- home against Iowa, and at Minnesota -- then advance to the Big Ten Tournament championship game just to guarantee an above-.500 season. The Huskers haven't won more than four games in a row this season, and that streak was to conclude the nonconference season.

Making matters worse is that Nebraska's top scorer, senior point guard Bo Spencer, injured his left ankle at the end of the first half in a Feb. 25 loss to Michigan State and didn't return. His status isn't certain, but if he can't play, he'd be the second starter Nebraska has lost this month, joining center Jorge Brian Diaz, who's likely out for the season with chronic foot pain.

Nebraska is now simply trying to avoid a last-place finish in the Big Ten. At 4-12, the Huskers are tied with Penn State, and the teams split their regular-season meetings, meaning the tiebreaker to determine the No. 11 seed in the Big Ten Tournament could come down to which team owns a victory over the team with the highest finish in the conference standings.

Neither Nebraska nor Penn State has defeated any of the current top four teams, but Nebraska beat Indiana, and Penn State beat Purdue. Those teams are battling for fifth place.


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

--Senior G Bo Spencer injured his left ankle on the final possession of the first half of a Feb. 25 loss at Michigan State and didn't play the second half. Coach Doc Sadler said after the game he didn't know the extent of Spencer's injury, but also said he expected his starting point guard to be OK. Spencer is Nebraska's leading scorer at 15.5 points per game.

--Senior F/G Toney McCray missed the final 11 minutes of Nebraska's loss to Michigan State -- not because of injury, because he fouled out. McCray finished with three points on 1-of-6 shooting with three turnovers, no assists and no rebounds.

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