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February 2, 2010The celebration following Nebraska's first Big 12 Conference victory was definitely short lived, as the Huskers got brought back down in a big way Tuesday night.
Just three days after beating Oklahoma, Nebraska looked sloppy and out of rhythm all night in a 76-57 loss to No. 10 Kansas State at the Devaney Center. With the loss, the Huskers fall to 13-9 overall and 1-6 in the Big 12, equaling their worst start in conference play in 20 years.
All together, NU shot just 41 percent from the field, went 8-of-22 from 3-point range and committed 18 fouls and 16 turnovers to allow Kansas State to win in Lincoln for the first time since 2006.
"I told the team, this basketball team that I just spoke to, I didn't recognize it, because that's not us," Sadler said. "We have been a tremendous team defensively, but they made us make mistakes that are as basic as it gets? Maybe we were trying too hard. Maybe that's what it was. If that's the case, I can live with that. You can clean up some mistakes. But you're not going to win any games until you do."
Ugly was pretty much the only way to describe Nebraska's offensive performance in the first half, as it couldn't seem to buy even the easiest of baskets en route to falling behind 42-28 at halftime.
Not only did the Huskers shoot just 38 percent (8-of-21) from the field in the opening half to go along with 11 turnovers and 12 fouls, they also made just three of their 15 shots in the paint.
Of those misses in the paint, five were lay-ups and one was a dunk.
While Kansas State (18-4 overall, 5-3 Big 12) wasn't exactly the sharpest it's ever been, the Wildcats were able to take advantage of NU's sloppy play and build up a 15-point lead by the 8-minute mark of the first half.
Nebraska was able to keep KSU within reach through the half's final minutes, but it certainly didn't help its cause by going without a field goal for the final 4:14 and managing just six points from the free throw line during the span.
"The first half, I think that we missed some awfully easy baskets, and that's what a lot of people are going to look at," Sadler said. "But the defense was just horrendous. It was a selfish, selfish basketball team on the defensive end tonight, and that's the first time that's happened. We've got to understand that we've got to play as a team. We're sitting there giving up 42 points in a half, and we can't win those games, especially against a team that's in the (top 10).
"They came in here, and I don't know of an area where they weren't the best basketball team. They were by far the better coached basketball team tonight."
The Huskers came out with a brief rally to start the second half, as it opened up with a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 42-35. However, three straight 3-pointers by guard Denis Clemente put a quick end to the run and helped KSU reclaim a 16-point advantage.
Though the score stayed somewhat close for a few more minutes, the game was never really in doubt the rest of the way. When the Wildcats eventually extended their lead to 68-45 with nine minutes to go, fans started heading for the exits and Kansas State fans eventually took over the floor seating behind the KSU bench for the final minutes.
Redshirt freshman center Jorge Brian Diaz led NU with 13 points, while senior guard Ryan Anderson added 10. Sophomore guard Brandon Richardson, who had been averaging 11.0 ppg in the past 12 games, was held to just six points on 2-of-5 shooting.
On the other side, four players scored in double figures for Kansas State, including a game-high 23 from Clemente, who hit 5-of-9 from beyond the arc.
As if things could get any worse for Nebraska, it must turn right around and get ready to take on the No. 1-ranked team in the country on the road when they travel down to take on the Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday.
While the 19-point loss was obviously a tough pill to swallow for a team that just finally had something go its way, the final score was the least of Nebraska's worries. The fact that the Huskers were essentially pushed around in every aspect of the game - at home - gave far more reason for concern.
"It doesn't matter if it's one point or 30 points, you can't lose at home," Sadler said. "You cannot lose at home. We were never in this basketball game. I could say we made a little run in the first four minutes of the second half, but we were not even close to being in this basketball game. You can't lose at home, and it don't get no easier."