Nebraska could provide tough road test for Gophers

by Charlie Armitz

Nebraska entered many basketball analystsâÄô preseason polls as a Big Ten bottom-feeder âÄî a team that would compete with Minnesota, Northwestern, Iowa and Penn State for the conferenceâÄôs worst record.

In terms of results, the Huskers (3-6) are doing just that. The Gophers (4-6) âÄî NebraskaâÄôs opponent Sunday âÄî are also on the verge of dropping out of contention in the Big Ten.

But both teams have shown promise, albeit in different ways.

While Minnesota has battled back from injuries and an 0-4 start, Nebraska has held its ground against lesser foes despite struggles against the conferenceâÄôs elite.

Like the Gophers, the Huskers have defeated Indiana and Penn State.

But unlike the Gophers, they have yet to record a âÄúbad lossâÄù so far in 2011-12, with all six of their defeats coming to teams with records of .500 or better.

NebraskaâÄôs last home game was a 79-45 loss to Ohio State âÄî a loss it followed with a 79-73 win at Iowa on Jan. 26.

The Huskers play the slowest pace of any team in the Big Ten and rank near the bottom of every offensive category except free throw shooting.

They have shown signs of life on offense âÄî as evidenced in the Iowa win, when they shot 52 percent from the field and committed 11 turnovers.

âÄúOur team, offensively, had as good of a flow as weâÄôve had in conference play [against Iowa],âÄù Nebraska head coach Doc Sadler said in MondayâÄôs Big Ten teleconference.

But in the loss to Ohio State, Nebraska shot a season-low 30 percent and committed a season-high 27 turnovers.

The HuskersâÄô offense has struggled with consistency throughout the Big Ten season. They have hit the 50-percent shooting mark three times, but they have shot worse than 38 percent in their other six games.

Senior guard Bo Spencer has led the way for Nebraska, averaging 14.9 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists despite shooting 38 percent from the floor.

The HuskersâÄô other starting guard, senior Brandon Richardson, was named the Big TenâÄôs Co-Player of the Week after his 25-point effort against the Hawkeyes, which included six 3-pointers.