Nebraska faced their toughest opponent of the 2007 men's basketball season today, beating the Oregon Ducks 88-79 at the Qwest Center in Omaha. Oregon came in ranked #16, and at #18 in the Sagarin rankings with a schedule rank at 166. Nebraska came in 88th (Sagarin), with a schedule rank of 327.
Aleks Maric finished with 23 points, hitting nine of 14 from the floor. He was five of five for free throws, coming into the game a 52% free throw shooter this season. Ryan Anderson added 21 points, Ade Dagunduro had 15 points, and Jay Strowbridge added 10 with five assists. Nebraska's bench had 27 total points.
For the Ducks Tajuan Porter had 29 points, including seven three's. Duck Malik Hairston added 25.
The big key for Nebraska - forcing 18 turnovers against Oregon while having only seven ourselves. Another big key - not folding when Oregon's Tajuan Porter made a three with nine seconds left in regulation to force overtime. Porter was fouled on the play and then missed the free throw. Nebraska's Steve Harley missed a shot to win the game, with Nebraska's radio announcers complaining why Porter got a call on his shot, while there was no call on the shot by Harley.
Regulation score ended tied at 74, keeping Nebraska's streak of holding opponents under 75 points (in regulation now) while Oregon's streak of scoring over 75 ended. Couldn't have happened at a better time for the Cornhuskers.
Nebraska lead by as much as six in overtime, then Porter hit a two to bring it within four. Nebraska continued to play great defense, not allowing Oregon to score and being sent to the line. Paul Velander made one of two, Steve Harley missed both, and then Ryan Anderson hit two free throws with 17 seconds left to put the game away.
Bo over at Big Red Analysis made the comment earlier that Nebraska needed this game for any possible shot at a NCAA tourney berth, given how the strength of our non-conference schedule. Nebraska's other decent wins in non-conference include Arizona State and Rutgers.
A signature win, a big win for Doc Sadler. It gets the Huskers some much-needed national exposure. It gives a lot of confidence to a very young Nebraska team who had come into this game doing very well at taking care of the ball. The Huskers were picked 10th in the Big 12 pre-season. Maybe if they can get it together, play like a team, tough defense, they can do some damage this season.