Husker star Maric shut out

Center blanked in 21 minutes against Jayhawks

Late in the second half, Nebraska University’s best basketball player, 6-foot-11 center Aleks Maric, pulled up from 18 feet and heaved a prayer toward the basket.

By that point, it was really all he had.

Maric, averaging 16.6 points per game heading into Nebraska’s rematch with Kansas University, laid a goose egg Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse.

The star of the team had zero points, and Kansas cruised to an 84-49 victory over punchless Nebraska.

“Aleks has got to be the guy that we get on his back and ride,” NU coach Doc Sadler said. “He didn’t score a point. Therefore, our team didn’t play well.”

Maric missed all six shots he took, including that ill-advised 18-footer from the corner late in the second half. He also clanked two free throws, giving the Australian his first zero-point game since Dec. 31, 2005, against Florida State – when he was a sophomore.

He had 19 points when KU and NU met in Lincoln, Neb., on Jan. 12. But his only statistical contribution Saturday was nine rebounds and three turnovers in 21 minutes.

“It hurts,” a quiet Maric said. “I let our team down today, and being a senior, that’s a big thing. I take full responsibility for that, but I give Kansas credit for shutting me down.”

Maric said the Jayhawks’ athleticism and aggressiveness made life difficult, but he also admitted he should’ve been more creative with the ball in his hands.

Either way, Sadler said it probably wouldn’t have mattered too much.

“I’m not convinced that a perfect game is good enough to beat those guys,” he said with a sigh.

The Huskers (11-6 overall, 0-4 Big 12 Conference) do wake up this morning with some good news. They don’t have to play the Jayhawks (20-0, 5-0) anymore this regular season. A quirk in the conference schedule meant the two Big 12 North foes played each other twice in two weeks at the beginning of league play.

That didn’t help the Huskers get off to a good start. Besides two losses to Kansas, Nebraska has fallen to Baylor and Colorado and now is looking up at 11 other teams in the standings.

Afterward, Sadler pounded it in his team’s head that a new season begins Wednesday, when Nebraska travels to play Missouri.

As the Big 12’s last team without a conference victory, burying the past and turning to a fresh page might be the best answer. But Sadler, in his second season in charge of the Huskers, also plans to look back at the Jayhawks and envision something to shoot for some day.

Just not today.

“This is where we want to be,” Sadler said of KU’s success. “But as you can tell, we’re not even close to that right now.”