When the Nebraska basketball team walked into Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday, it was the best three-point shooting squad in the Big Eight.
When the Huskers limped out, after a 103-78 loss to fifth-ranked Kansas, they left knowing they'd been knocked from the conference's three-point pinnacle.
"Poor three-point shooting by Nebraska really killed us," NU coach Danny Nee said. "I thought this game was going to run in spurts. Kansas put together a couple of good spurts."
Trailing 28-27 with 8:26 left in the first half, the Jayhawks put together one of those spurts, a 9-0 run that gave them the lead for good, a 36-28 advantage with 6:16 left before intermission.
Nebraska pulled to 36-32, but Kansas closed the half with a 16-6 run. After trailing, 52-38, at the half, the Huskers could come no closer than 11 points the rest of the way.
"We were just out of it for a couple of minutes," said NU center Derrick Chandler. "You can't do that in the Big Eight and win. You have to be in it all 40 minutes."
OVER THOSE 40 minutes, when the Huskers managed to hold onto the ball they committed 15 first-half turnovers and 29 for the game they hit just 39.7 percent of their shots.
"We're struggling with our shooting," Nebraska guard Chris Cresswell said. "Our shooting is really hurting us. In the first half, I think their defense did bother us, but not so much in the second half. There's no other explanation for it, other than the fact that we're cold."
No one was colder than Cresswell, who missed all five of his field-goal attempts and all four three-point shots. As a team, the Huskers hit just 22.2 percent of their trey tries, well below the Big Eight-leading 42.5 percent mark they brought to KU.
Kansas, meanwhile, tied a school record with 11 treys.
"I think we dropped dead when they hit a couple of shots and got a couple of fast breaks on us," said NU's Carl Hayes. "Then they hit a couple of threes that broke our backs."
Nebraska's Eric Piatkowski was reluctant to credit the Jayhawks' defense for the Huskers' poor marksmanship.
"WE HAD wide-open shots," Piatkowski said. "We were one for 10 in the first half from three-point range, and half of those were wide open. Our offense is going to come. It's just a matter of us playing better defense."
"It wasn't their defense. It was our defense. Unless we start playing better defense, we're not going to win. We need to concentrate on that."
Piatkowski and Chandler led the Huskers with 17 points apiece, and Michael Hughes added 11.
"Defense is the key," Nee said. "We had 29 turnovers. That's the key to the game. Kansas is an excellent defensive team. They kept coming at us in waves."
The Huskers, now 13-3 overall, 1-2 in the Big Eight, will host Oklahoma on Monday.
"We've hit a wall right now," Cresswell said. "We gotta get over it for the rest of the Big Eight season."