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Archive for Monday, February 16, 2004

Huskers relish ‘tremendous’ win

February 16, 2004

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— At halftime, Nebraska University's new football coaching staff was introduced to the sellout crowd at the Devaney Center.

So it probably was only fitting that the Cornhuskers' three leading scorers in Sunday's stunning 74-55 win over No. 12-ranked Kansas University all had football scores.

Guard Nate Johnson and post players John Turek and Andrew Drevo counted 14 points apiece as the Cornhuskers blitzed the Jayhawks with a 47-point second half.

"When I was growing up, I was a big KU fan," said Johnson, a 6-foot-1 senior who played at Kansas City Wyandotte High, then spent two more years at Penn Valley CC on the Missouri side before transferring to Nebraska last season. "I wanted to beat them last year, but we didn't."

Johnson made both his three-point attempts, helping the Huskers, the Big 12 Conference's second-best three-point shooting team behind Oklahoma State, cash eight of 16 shots from beyond the arc.

Yet the inside play of the 6-foot-9 Turek and the 6-8 Drevo was just as effective as the Huskers' outside game. Turek and Drevo wheeled seemingly with impunity as the Jayhawks tried to overcompensate on NU's three-point shooters.

"They weren't really doubling on us," Drevo said, "so we tried to go to the hoop and not fade away."

Echoed Turek: "Our gameplan was to take it inside because we knew they weren't deep inside. Coach wanted to take it at 'em and get them in foul trouble."

Kansas was shallower than usual inside because 6-9 Jeff Graves, the Jayhawks' first big man off the bench, never left the bench, apparently because he was in coach Bill Self's doghouse.

"We didn't know Graves wasn't going to play until we saw him in street clothes," Turek said.

Even if Graves had played, coach Barry Collier stressed the Huskers would have maintained the same inside-outside strategy.

"We're a good shooting team, and you have to decide how to play us," NU coach Barry Collier said. "We shot the ball fairly good today, which allowed some isolation inside, and John and Andrew were able to score in that isolation."

Nebraska shot a torrid 63 percent (17 of 27) in the second half and 56.3 percent (27 of 48) overall. Moreover, NU made all 12 of its free throws.

"This was a tremendous, tremendous win," Collier said. "It's a large step, but there are other games ahead, like Kansas State on Wednesday."

Nebraska now has won consecutive games against Missouri, Texas A&M and Kansas after dropping six of its first seven conference contests.

Collier did have one regret. As he was shaking hands with KU coach Bill Self after the buzzer, the two were bumped into the scorers table by ecstatic fans who stormed the court.

"I apologize for that," Collier said.

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