Nebraska’s men’s basketball team — which has made an appearance in Lawrence each and every winter since 1922 — today may be visiting Allen Fieldhouse for the final time.
The Cornhuskers, who are 7-50 all-time in Kansas University’s tradition-rich building, are headed to the Big Ten Conference next season.
“I hadn’t thought of that, to be honest,” KU coach Bill Self said on the eve of today’s 1 p.m. matchup between the Jayhawks (16-0, 1-0 Big 12) and Cornhuskers (13-3, 1-1).
“I haven’t talked to Doc (Sadler, NU coach) about playing in the future. I really don’t think that’ll probably happen, to be honest with you. I guess it could down the road. I’ll be sure to remind our players about that.”
The Jayhawks, who have won the last 15 overall meetings versus NU dating to the 2004 season and 24 of 25 since the 1999 campaign, hold a 168-71 all-time mark versus the Big Red, including an 87-23 record in Lawrence.
The Huskers have dropped 11 consecutive games in Allen, last winning, 64-59, on Feb. 10, 1999.
“Doc (0-9 versus KU) is a good coach and they’ve always guarded,” Self said, noting NU led by four points with 13 minutes remaining in KU’s 75-64 victory last season in Allen.
“They are leading the country in field goal percentage defense. Our goal is to lead that every year. We have a long way to go before we catch them,” Self added.
Indeed, the Huskers entered the week tops nationally in field goal percentage defense (34.5) and second in scoring defense (55.0 ppg). KU entered the week ranked seventh in field goal percentage defense (37.3) and 24th in scoring defense (60.9 ppg).
“When other teams don’t score, you are always in the game,” Self said. “I learned that from coach (Eddie) Sutton (as assistant at Oklahoma State) and Doc learned that from coach Sutton (at Arkansas). Especially away from home ... take care of the ball and don’t give up easy baskets gives you a chance. That’s been a good formula for them.”
The Huskers, who opened the Big 12 season with a 63-62 home victory over Iowa State, had a 10-game winning streak snapped, 77-69, Wednesday at Missouri.
“They don’t let you get the ball down low as much. They sag on the big fellas,” said KU junior Marcus Morris, who scored 20 points off 9-of-15 shooting with 11 rebounds in Lawrence last year after scoring 19 points off 7-of-8 shooting with seven boards in an 84-72 KU victory in Lincoln.
“Seeing K-State lose twice, once at home, definitely is a wake-up call,” Morris noted. “The Big 12 is serious. Anybody can lose. I feel we have a target on our chest because we are (six-time) defending (league) champions.”
Morris erupted for a career-high 33 points in KU’s 84-79 Big 12 opening victory over Iowa State on Wednesday in Ames. NU counters with double-digit scorers in Jorge Brian Diaz (10.4 ppg) and Lance Jeter (10.0).
“There’s definitely a sense of urgency,” Morris said. “Margin (of victory) doesn’t matter. Conference is conference. You don’t want to lose in conference because of how important it is.
“I’d rather have lost all those (15 nonconference) games if it means we win every conference game,” Morris added “When you really want to buckle down and play to every detail ... it’s in conference.”
In the nonconference campaign, Nebraska lost to Vanderbilt and Davidson, claiming a marquee victory over Southern California.
“I can’t wait,” KU freshman guard Josh Selby said of his first meeting versus NU. “I know it’s going to be crackin’ tomorrow (in fieldhouse) because it’s our first home Big 12 game. I will be a little nervous, but I can’t wait to play the game.
“It has been a wake-up call because Duke lost to Florida State. That shocked me,” Selby added. “Anything is possible in this basketball game.”
The Jayhawks hold a 68-game homecourt win streak.
“It’s important to us and the fans. We just want to keep it (streak) so they can stay happy. The more happy they are, the more they’ll make us better,” Selby said.