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March 5, 2011

Gameday: Nebraska vs. Colorado

Nebraska Cornhuskers

vs. Colorado Buffaloes
Saturday, March 5, 2011 - 8:05 p.m. CT
TV: None / RADIO: IMG Husker Sports Radio Network

Colorado Buffaloes (18-12, 7-8 Big 12)
Streak: Lost 1
Last Game: Lost to Iowa State 95-90
G Nate Tomlinson (scored season-high 10 points vs. Iowa State) Jr. 6-3 190
G Marcus Relphorde (averaging 13.3 ppg in last four games) Sr. 6-7 220
G Alec Burks (ranks second in Big 12 with 20.5 ppg in conference play) So. 6-6 195
G Cory Higgins (second leading scorer on team with 15.8 ppg) Jr. 6-5 180
F Austin Dufault (averaging 7.4 ppg and 4.2 rpg) Jr. 6-9 225

Nebraska CornhuskersNebraska Cornhuskers (13-4, 1-2 Big 12 Conference)
Streak: Won 1
Last Game: Defeates Missouri 69-58
G Lance Jeter (Had 16 points, 7 assists and 7 rebounds vs. Missouri) Sr. 6-3 222
G Brandon Richardson (second on team in assists with 1.9 apg) Jr. 6-0 190
G Caleb Walker (three games with at least 10 rebounds this season) Jr. 6-4 205
G Toney McCray (has scored in double figures in 5 of past 6 games) Jr. 6-6 210
F Jorge Brian Diaz (had 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting vs. Missouri) So. 6-11 245

Finish on the road

Even after snapping its embarrassing Big 12 road losing streak last month with a win Oklahoma, the fact remains that Nebraska has still yet to prove itself as a team that can win a road game when it has to. After that win over the Sooners, the Huskers went into Iowa State and dropped an overtime heartbreaker that would have been huge for their NCAA Tournament hopes. Overall, NU is just 2-8 away from the Devaney Center this season and just 1-6 in Big 12 road games. With essentially everything riding on tonight's game, the Huskers will have to find a way to reverse their recent road struggles.
Stop the playmakers

It's no secret that the biggest key to beating Colorado is containing stellar sophomore guard Alec Burks. A surefire first-team All-Big 12 selection this year, Burks lit up Nebraska for 22 points earlier this season in Lincoln. For the Huskers pull this one out, they definitely can't have Burks single-handedly beat them down the stretch - a la Jacob Pullen in Kansas State's win at NU. The problem with focusing too much on Burks is that guys like Cory Higgins (15.8 ppg) and Levi Knutson (who scored 17 in the first meeting vs. NU) can also do damage.
Get it done

Once again, Nebraska is in a situation where it could do itself a tremendous favor by pulling off a road win. With a victory and a Baylor loss tonight, the Huskers would secure the No. 6 seed in the Big 12 Tournament, which would pit them against the No. 11 seed in the first round and then No. 3 seed Texas A&M - which NU already beat this season - in the second. A loss, however, and Nebraska could drop to as far as the No. 8 seed, which would face the No. 9 seed in the first round and then the No. 1 seed - either Kansas or Texas - in the second round. Needless to say, a win tonight would be huge for the Huskers' NCAA Tournament hopes.

Head coach Doc Sadler on Nebraska focusing only on beating Colorado:

"That's the only thing you can control. I think with anything else, none of us know what's going to happen. If we win, there's still two or three other games that dictate what happens. There's all kinds of things that have got to happen, and there's no need wasting our energy thinking about that."
Sophomore forward Brandon Ubel on the importance of tonight's game:

"For both teams, this is kind of a do-or-die game for us in the fact that we're both look at as kind of bubble teams that are close but still need to do some work. Beating a team like Colorado would definitely put us closer to the conversation, and obviously they're in the same boat. It's probably going to be the most intense game that we've played in, not just this year, but ever."

Nebraska 71-70

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