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November 25, 2008

As always, defense has been the key for Huskers

It's nothing new for a Doc Sadler-coached team to be based on strong defense, and this season has been no different for Nebraska.

On the year, the Huskers have allowed just 49.7 points per game through three contests, which ranks second in the Big 12 Conference, while holding their opponents to a dismal shooting percentage of 36.9 percent. While NU itself has averaged just 64 points per game, its stingy play on defense has been the driving force behind its 3-0 start.

Not only are the Huskers forcing bad shots and low scores for their opponents, they're also hardly letting teams get shots off in the first place. Through three games, Nebraska has forced 62 turnovers (20.6 per game), including a Big 12-best 12.0 steals per contest.

PREGAME NOTES
Tip: 7:07 p.m. CST
Where: Devaney Sports Center 13,595
Head Coache: Doc Sadler 3rd yr (40-27 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)
Satellite Radio: None
Series: Tied 3-3

Guards Sek Henry and Cookie Miller have led the way in that department, as both currently rank in the conference's top 10 in steals per game. Henry ranks tied for sixth with and average of 2.67 steals per game, while Miller is 10th with 2.33.

Overall, seven different Huskers are averaging at least one steal per game this season. Against San Jose State, Nebraska posted a season-high 16 steals, the most by the Huskers under Sadler.

As previously noted, Nebraska's defensive success should come as no surprise, as the Huskers have been one of the nation's top defensive teams since Sadler took over in 2006. Last season, NU led the Big 12 in overall scoring defense, allowing its opponents just 60.7 points per game with an opponent shooting percentage of only 40.2 percent.

When the Huskers play host to Saint Louis tonight at 7:07 p.m. at the Devaney Sports Center, defense should be the name of the game once again for NU. In their 53-50 win over Boston College on Saturday, the Billikens' held the Eagles to shoot just 33.3 percent from the field and out-rebounded BC 43-32.

Saint Louis (2-1, 0-0 Conference USA)
7:07 p.m.
Nebraska (3-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Fox Sports Midwest, ESPN FullCourt
PROJECTED STARTERS
Nebraska 3-0
Pos # Name Yr Pts/reb
G 5 Sek Henry (6-3, 200) Jr 9.0/4.3
G 4 Steve Harley (5-11, 180) Sr 10.3/3.3
G 11 Ade Dagunduro (6-5, 200) Sr 4.3/3.0
G 44 Ryan Anderson (6-4, 205) Jr 5.0/6.3
C 32 Chris Balham (6-8, 235) Jr 1.3/1.3
Saint Louis 2-1
Pos # Name Yr Pts/reb
G 25 Tommie Liddell (6-4, 195) Sr 13.3/9.7
G 21 Kevin Lisch (6-2, 190) Sr 18.5/4.5
G 3 K. Mitchell (5-10, 165) Fr 9.3/2.3
F 14 Brian Conklin (6-6, 220) Fr 8.3/6.0
C 41 Brett Thompson (6-10, 260) Fr 2.0/2.7
However, Saint Louis had its own issues offensively, as it shot only 37.5 percent from the floor and committed 16 turnovers in the game.

Though the Billikens have four of their five starters averaging at least 8.3 points per game this season led by senior guard Kevin Lisch's 18.3 they have averaged a ere 58.3 points through their first three contests.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

Going up against an equally strong defensive team in Saint Louis, the Huskers are going to need all the scoring production they can get tonight. Senior guard Steve Harley is currently the only NU player averaging more than 10 points per game this season with an average of 10.3.

Nebraska will likely look to its defense to help spark some transition baskets off of turnovers, as the Billikens have had some issues with ball control. The Huskers have thrived on creating turnovers this season, and in a game featuring to heavily defensive-minded teams, that very well could be the deciding factor.

WHO'S HOT FOR THE HUSKERS

Junior guard Sek Henry has been one of the leaders for Nebraska on both sides of the floor, as he currently ranks third on the team with 9 points per game and leads the Huskers with eight steals through their first three contests.

Henry's ability to create plays on defense should be a big advantage for Nebraska tonight against the Billikens, as he'll likely be all over Saint Louis' guards in hopes of forcing turnovers. In the Huskers' win over San Jose State, Henry had a career-high four steals.

WHO'S HOT FOR THE GOLDEN LIONS

While Saint Louis hasn't put up big numbers on the scoreboard this season, it hasn't been a result of any lack of effort by senior guard Kevin Lisch. Averaging 18.3 points per game, Lisch has been the Billikens' spark plug offensively.

In last weekend's win over Big East Conference foe Boston College, he led the way for Saint Louis with 15 points, including a pair of clutch 3-pointers down the stretch. If Lisch can get going tonight against the Huskers, this game could go down the wire.



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