January 14, 2009

Huskers looking to snap Ames losing streak

Saturday's game against Missouri marked Nebraska's first taste of Big 12 Conference competition this season, but tonight's trip to Iowa State presents a whole new bag of challenges for the Huskers.


Along with being their first Big 12 road game of the season, tonight's showdown with the Cyclones will pit the Huskers in arguably their most hostile environment yet this year at ISU's Hilton Coliseum.




PREGAME NOTES


Tip: 7:06 p.m. CST

Where: Hilton Coliseum 14,356

Head Coach: Doc Sadler 3rd yr (48-30 overall)

Radio: Husker Sports Radio Network stations (Play-by-play: Kent Pavelka. Color: Matt Davison.)


TV: Fox Sports Midwest, ESPN FullCourt (Play-by-play: Greg Sharpe. Color: Eric Piatkowski.)

Series: Nebraska leads 129-99






Though the Cyclones (11-5 overall, 0-1 Big 12) have had their share of struggles recently, NU head coach Doc Sadler said playing in Ames, Iowa, is always a challenge because of both the Cyclone's players and their fans.


"A lot of times it's because of the players, but then again, the thing that they have there that we'd like to have, and I think we've got started here, is a tremendous home-court advantage," Sadler said. "You add those two things together - it starts with players obviously - but you add that along with a great home-court advantage, and it's difficult to win on the road (there).


Since Sadler took over in 2006, Nebraska is just 1-3 against Iowa State overall and has lost its past two trips to Ames. In fact, the Huskers have beaten the Cyclones on the road just twice in the past 10 seasons ('04, '05).


While he obviously didn't want past failures to weigh on this year's squad, Sadler wouldn't deny that winning in Ames has been easier said than done for quite a while now for the Huskers.






Iowa State (11-5, 0-1 Big 12)

7:06 p.m.


Nebraska (11-3, 1-0 Big 12)

Fox Sports Midwest, ESPN FullCourt






























PROJECTED STARTERS



Nebraska 11-3




Pos

#

Name

Yr

Pts/reb

G

5

Sek Henry (6-3, 200)

Jr

10.0/3.6

G

4

Steve Harley (5-11, 180)

Sr

12.6/3.6

G

11

Ade Dagunduro (6-5, 200)

Sr

10.9/3.7

G

24

Cookie Miller (5-7, 165)

Jr

5.6/2.2

F

32

Chris Balham (6-8, 235)

Jr

2.5/2.2





Iowa State 11-5




Pos

#

Name

Yr

Pts/reb

G

10

Diante Garrett (6-4, 185)

So

10.8/5.1

G

5

Lucca Staiger (6-5, 225)

So

8.8/2.1

G

22

Bryan Petersen (6-1, 180)

Sr

6.9/4.3

F

21

Craig Brackins (6-10, 230)

So

18.4/8.8

C

41

Justin Hamilton (6-11, 255)

Fr

4.8/3.3






"History speaks for itself, and the tradition that they've built there is one that if you go up there and you do get a win, you're going to be one of the few teams in this league to do that," he said. "That makes it a huge, huge game for us."


The Cyclones haven't had the most ideal start to the season, but it's not as if they should be taken lightly by any means. Though the fell to Texas in their Big 12 opener, the Cyclones gave the then-No. 11 Longhorns all they could handle in a 75-67 loss on the road.


However, Sadler made sure to keep tonight's game in perspective when looking at its importance on the season as a whole. Coming off a big win at home over Missouri on Saturday, Nebraska got a much-needed boost of confidence to open its Big 12 schedule.


At the same time, that confidence will only go so far in helping them improve to 2-0 in league play. In the Big 12, Sadler said, no game is more important or difficult than any other.


"It's no bigger than the Missouri game was, and it won't be any bigger than the Kansas State game (on Saturday)," Sadler said. "When you get to league play, every game's big, and (tonight's) game will be big also."


WHAT TO LOOK FOR:


Just like Missouri was last weekend, the Cyclones will once again present the Huskers with their biggest size disadvantage of the season. Behind 6-foot-10 forward Craig Brackins and 6-11, 255-pound center Justin Hamilton, Iowa State's strength is undoubtedly its post play.


It doesn't stop with those two, either, as ISU boasts two more players 6-10 or taller on its bench. How many minutes the Huskers can get out of junior center Chris Balham and how well undersized guys like Toney McCray and Ryan Anderson can hold their own down low will play a big part in whether NU can stop its current losing streak at the Hilton Coliseum.


WHO'S HOT FOR THE HUSKERS


Senior guard Ade Dagunduro just keeps getting hotter, as he led the Huskers with a career-high 20 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the field against Missouri.


Dagunduro has been red hot the past seven games, as he's averaged 14.7 points per game and has hit 39-of-58 shots (67.2 percent) from the field in that span. He's also connected on 30 of his past 40 attempts (75.0 percent) in his past five games.


WHO'S HOT FOR THE CYCLONES


Though he's just a sophomore, Brackins is emerging as one of the Big 12's top scoring threats this season, averaging 18.4 points per game.


Like his friend and fellow California native Dagunduro, Brackins has been on fire from the field lately, shooting 48.3. He's also the Cyclone's leading rebounder, averaging 8.8 per game.



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