February 28, 2009

Trying to forget A&M loss, NU focuses on Wildcats

Senior Ade Dagunduro has dealt with plenty of tough losses over the course of his basketball career, but none have hurt quite as long as the most recent one.


After Nebraska blew an 18-point second-half lead and eventually lost to Texas A&M on a buzzer beater 3-pointer on Saturday, the senior guard said the defeat was far and away the worst he'd ever experienced in terms of pure disappointment and regret.




PREGAME NOTES


Tip: 7:05 p.m. CST

Where: Bramlage Coliseum (12,528)

Head Coach: Doc Sadler 3rd yr (43-37 overall)

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


TV: Big 12 Network; ESPN FullCourt (Play-by-play: Dave Armstrong. Color: Jon Sundvold.)

Series: Kansas State leads 122-93






Now four days removed from that game, Dagunduro said he's still having trouble getting it out of his head.


"Me personally, I can't stop thinking about it," he said. "I've told myself that no matter what, I don't want to be one those woulda, coulda, shoulda guys. After that game, I was doing a lot of we shoulda, woulda, coulda. I'm trying hard to get over it."


While the sting of the A&M game still lingers for the Huskers, they are well aware that the perfect cure would be a win on the road tonight against Kansas State. Though Tuesday's loss was obviously a huge blow to their NCAA Tournament hopes, the Huskers still have a chance to finish as high as fourth in the Big 12 Conference is everything plays out in their favor the rest of the way.


It might be a small chance, but for Nebraska right now, that hope is serving as its primary motivation.


"We're sitting here, as we said this time last week, we have to take every game by itself," head coach Doc Sadler said. "We've got another opportunity (tonight). We have three more of them left, and (tonight's) game is going to be huge."






Kansas State (19-9, 7-6 Big 12)

7:05 p.m.


Nebraska (16-10, 6-7 Big 12)

Big 12 Network, ESPN FullCourt






























PROJECTED STARTERS



Nebraska 16-10




Pos

#

Name

Yr

Pts/reb

G

5

Sek Henry (6-3, 200)

Jr

8.3/3.3

G

4

Steve Harley (5-11, 180)

Sr

10.5/3.5

G

11

Ade Dagunduro (6-5, 200)

Sr

12.0/4.2

G

24

Cookie Miller (5-7, 165)

Jr

7.1/2.2

F

32

Chris Balham (6-8, 235)

Jr

2.2/2.5





Kansas State 19-9




Pos

#

Name

Yr

Pts/reb

G

0

Jacob Pullen (6-0, 200)

So

14.2/3.7

G

21

Denis Clemente (6-1, 175)

Jr

15.4/3.1

F

23

Dominique Sutton (6-5, 210)

So

8.3/4.9

F

42

Darren Kent (6-11, 230)

Sr

8.5/6.0

C

15

Luis Colon (6-10, 265)

Jr

5.5/4.9






Sadler said he's been more than pleased with the way his team has responded from the loss in the two practices on Thursday and Friday, saying the effort and intensity has been as good as ever, especially with all things considered.


Though Dagunduro said he's still trying to forget Tuesday's game, but the need to finish the season - and for NU's seniors, their careers - on a high note has been the best remedy in putting the loss behind him.


"We're holding up alright, but I'd be lying I said that wasn't an absolutely devastating blow," Dagunduro said. "But that's basketball. You've got to figure out a way somehow to get over it, and that's what we're looking to do… It would help erase it a lot. A win always erase a loss, but we've got to be good. We've got to finish out the year strong, man."


While Nebraska is essentially playing for its Tournament lives the rest of the season and on into the conference tournament, Kansas State is pretty much in the exact same boat. At 19-9 overall and 7-6 in the Big 12, the Wildcats will be looking at tonight's game as a chance to get some much-needed separation in the conference standings and keep pace with Texas in the race for fourth place.


Then throw in the added motivation of getting some revenge for the 73-51 route the Huskers handed them in Lincoln in January, and the Wildcats should have no trouble getting up for tonight's rematch.


That's why Sadler said the Huskers had better find a way to forget about Tuesday's loss before tonight's tip off. If they don't, those hopes of sneaking into the Tournament will officially burst like a bubble.


"You better get ready, because you're fixing to play another team that's fighting for their lives," Sadler said. "They're trying to get an NCAA Tournament bid, and we're still trying to get one. Everybody assumes that with the loss Tuesday night, everybody thinks the worst. But the worst ain't actually happened yet. We'll still take care of business, and we'll see what happens… We've got a lot of basketball still to play."


WHAT TO LOOK FOR:


There's no bigger issue for Nebraska at the moment than its inability to score, which was as clear as ever in Tuesday's loss. Along with managing just 55 points and shooting 39 percent from the field, the Huskers went on a scoring drought that saw them score just six points over a span of 15 minutes in the second half.


With Kansas State's ability to run the floor and score points in bunches, it will be imperative for NU to some offensive consistency and put some points on the scoreboard. As Sadler said earlier this week, the Huskers aren't going to win many games scoring 55 points this time of year.


WHO'S HOT FOR THE HUSKERS


While Dagunduro has been one of the few sources of offense for Nebraska the past few games, redshirt freshman Brandon Richardson has continued to progress his game down the stretch this season.


On Tuesday, Richardson finished with nine points - including hitting all four of his free throws - to go along with a pair of steals.


WHO'S HOT FOR THE WILDCATS


Of all the potential threats on Kansas State's roster, no player is as big of a concern for Sadler than guard Denis Clemente. Along with averaging 15.4 points per game this season, Clemente leads the Wildcats with 30 3-pointers and 43 assists.


In KSU's loss to Missouri earlier this week, Clemente was one of the few bright spots for the Wildcats, as he finished with 33 points on 12-of-19 shooting with five rebounds and three assists.

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