Close but not quite

The Nebraska men's basketball team closed its two game home stand with a disappointing loss to the Missouri Tigers.

The biggest problem with last night's game was the inconsistency among the Cornhuskers. 


Nebraska came out in the opening minutes and played very well.  Ryan Anderson hit shot after shot, going 3-4 on field goals, and 2-2 beyond the arc.  But then it's almost like the Huskers shut down. 


In the last 5:36, Missouri went on a terrorizing 20-2 run and went into the locker room with a 41-30 lead. 


Alexs Maric was obsolete the entire first half.  Missouri did a great job with their zone coverage to shut Maric down, but there were times when he was open and should have gotten the ball.  Instead of looking to the low post for an easy two, Anderson, Harley, and others began to take shots from bad angles; they were double teamed, or had a hand right in their face.  If the Cornhuskers did not play well in spurts, the outcome would have been much worse.


Once again, Nebraska came out of the locker room and dominated the opening minutes of the second half.  Missouri's head coach, Mike Anderson decided, for some unknown reason, to switch his defense from a powerful zone, to an ineffective man-to-man. 


The Huskers took advantage of this change and finally realized Maric was open and started getting him the ball.  The 6-11 senior from Sydney, Australia began a tremendous Husker comeback.  He added 17 points to his previous eight, and racked up 25 points, ten minutes into the half and ended the game with 32 points. 


Cookie Miller moved the ball very well up and down the court, threading passes to Maric for easy lay-ups. 


As the end of the game approached, the Huskers were down by two and found a hero, for now, in Steve Harley.   Harley was fouled with two seconds left in the game and went to the line, with the Huskers down by two, and needing these important free throws.  He made both and tied the game at 71 with the clock reading 00:00.  The Huskers headed into overtime confident and motivated. 


Anderson realized he had made a mistake by switching to a man-to-man defense.  Maric dominated the second half getting pass after pass in the paint and making easy two's. 


Once again, the Huskers wilted under the zone defense.  Maric seemed to disappear and was not a factor at all during overtime.  The Tigers dominated every aspect of the overtime period. 


Missouri outshot, outrebounded, and flat out, beat the Cornhuskers to win the game with a final score of 86-78. 


If Nebraska could have stayed consistent throughout the entire game, I am sure the outcome would have been much different.  Maric was extremely underused.  When Miller and Anderson realized Maric was there, good things happened.  Points came easy for the Huskers and they gave Missouri a run for their money. 


You have to give Missouri credit.  They hit big shots at key moments.  Just when you thought the Huskers were going to take the lead for good, the Tigers hit a three, got a steal and took it to the house, or simply played good defense, and silenced the faithful fans of dear old Nebraska U.

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