Nebraska loses tight game with Tigers

Shooting hasn't ever been a strong point for the defensive minded Huskers this season, but tonight's disappointing loss to Missouri left a bitter taste in the mouth of players and fans alike. Nebraska managed to shoot 22-55 from the floor for 40% along with 2-16 shooting from three-point land for a measly 13%. Those numbers helped the Tigers pick up their first road win on the year in a tightly contested 56-53 game.

The Huskers led 27-21 at the half but Missouri was able to start the second half on fire and force a tie game early on. Linas Kleiza was held in check for most of the game and finished with 15 points to lead the Tigers. It is hard to imagine holding someone down for 15 points and being satisfied, but considering the fact that Kleiza lit the Huskers up for 31 points earlier in the season, Barry Collier had to be happy with the outcome. Something Collier will have a hard time appreciating is the decision making for parts of the game by Nebraska. Poor shot selection combined with unnecessary passes and just plain stupid fouls came back to bite the Huskers and propel Missouri to victory.

Nebraska truly outplayed the Tigers for almost the entire game but, like games the past couple years, a bad feeling overcame my stomach as I waited for our demise. It happened throughout the second half with missed opportunities to regain the lead or even put a nail in the Tigers. Shots just seemed to roll in and out and Missouri didn't appear to miss much in the final half. Every time the Husker faithful would stand and really make some noise, the Huskers would allow easy shots or turn the ball over on offense.

Aleks Maric played one of the best games of his young career to tie Jason Dourisseau as the team leader in scoring with 13 points each. Maric also added nine rebounds and he earned my MVP of the game. He showed good improvement in his post moves and even hit a mid range jumper to raise a few eyebrows. Joe McCray had a disappointing game going 2-10 from three-point land and finishing with 10 points. I felt like Joe forced a few shots at the end of the game when they just weren't what anybody rooting for the Huskers wanted.

I have always backed Barry Collier and I will until the time comes when I truly feel this program is going downward. I look forward to the heralded recruiting class of next year and can't wait to see how Collier uses these amazing athletes we will soon have. On the other hand, I was frustrated with the game management from Collier tonight. Wes Wilkinson only played 14 minutes and while it's obvious to most that he isn't playing his best basketball at the moment, I don't think sitting Wes is what was needed. Wilkinson is a shy kid compared to most on the team and it appears that his major problem is his lack of confidence. The only way to cure that is to show belief in him and let him shoot away, he is simply too good to not crack the slump he is in. Another thing about the game that bothered me was when we had the ball and Collier called a timeout with only a few seconds remaining. I don't know what happened in that huddle, and maybe it wasn't even Collier's faul, but either way I was upset to see Marcus Neal get the ball and force a long shot coming off the timeout. If that is what you intended to do, why even call that timeout and let the defense get set?

Nebraska falls to 11-12 on the season and 4-8 in the conference. The Huskers are probably going to need to win the rest of the games this season if they want a chance at postseason play. They will get a great opportunity to play as a solid a team when the Oklahoma State Cowboys come to town next Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.

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