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February 20, 2010

Huskers lose 11th league game, 74-59 to Tigers

The attitude in Nebraska's locker room following Saturday night's loss to Missouri wasn't much different than it has been the past six weeks.

After trailing by just two points at halftime and at one point leading by as many as 10, Nebraska couldn't seem to keep it together in the second half. Missouri pulled away behind red hot perimeter shooting, handing the Huskers their 11th Big 12 Conference loss in a 74-59 defeat.

The loss was the sixth straight for the Huskers (13-14 overall, 1-11 Big 12 Conference), and they've now dropped 11 of their past 12 games since the start of league play.

"As I told the team, I'm at a loss for words," head coach Doc Sadler said. "I don't know what to say."

Nebraska got a taste of just about everything from the Tigers (20-7, 8-4) in the first half, as it found itself on both sides of big scoring runs to open the game. The Huskers jumped right out of the gate with a 11-1 run, highlighted by three Anderson 3-pointers.

Anderson finished the half with 15 points off 5-of-6 shooting from 3-point range. Going back to his 5-of-6 performance from beyond the arc in Saturday's loss to Kansas State, Anderson had hit 10 of his past 12 3s by the end of Saturday's first half.

As quickly as they took the lead, however, Missouri came storming back with its own 17-3 run and took a 19-14 advantage following a 3 by senior guard Zaire Taylor with 9:19 left in the half.

The lead then changed hands six more times through the next nine minutes before Missouri's Kim English hit an off-balance runner in the lane with 5.0 seconds remaining to put the Tigers up 35-33 going into halftime.

While it was a good start offensively, Sadler said he was anything but comfortable being down two at the break.

"I thought we came out the first half, and I knew we were making some 3s that you're not going to make the whole game," Sadler said. "The thing that concerned me at halftime was having scored 33 points and being down, because we're not a team that has shown consistently that we're going to score 70 points per game."

Nebraska eventually reclaimed the lead on a pair of Anderson free throws at 39-38 roughly three minutes into the second half, but Missouri quickly answered with an 11-2 run to go back up eight.

From there, the Tigers never looked back. As the baskets continued to fall for Missouri, the Huskers trailed by as many 18 points before eventually settling on a 15-point defeat.

Sophomore guard Marcus Denmon more than doubled his season scoring average to lead Missouri with a career-high 24 points on 5-of-7 shooting from 3-point range. Taylor also hit four 3s and finished with 18 points and eight rebounds.

The Tigers finished the night 11-of-19 from 3-point range and shot 45.5 percent from the field.

Senior guard Ryan Anderson did his best to keep the Huskers close, scoring a team-high 22 points with six 3-pointers, but he was the only NU player to score double figures. Anderson's 22 points also tied a season high, as he's now scored 22 in his past two games.

With only a few more games left on the regular-season schedule, Nebraska is finding itself with fewer and fewer chances to actually put a couple more positives on the year. Its next chance will come on Wednesday when it travels to take on Iowa State at 6:30 p.m.

"We haven't been far away in any games we've lost," Anderson said. "That's what's frustrating. At halftime, you're winning by five, down by four, down by one - I mean, you can't just expect things to happen and that it's just going to be that way in the second half. You've got to go out and make things happen. As a team, as a unit, you've got to go out and make things go your way. You've got to make things happen.

"It's not just going to fall in your hands and be like, 'here's the lead. Here's the win.' You've got to go make it happen. Once we realize that as a team, we're going to win. We can play with anybody. We have the talent to play with anybody. It just takes a little bit more than that though."



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