FINAL, NU, 71-64
Great board by Mike – one-armed, falling to the ground. Fatima is in the stands, looking nervous. This is kind of nerve-wracking, even though it was also so utterly predictable. Dribble penetration for Jake, who extended too early on the attempt, apparently bracing for contact. No good, and “The Thunder from Down Under” grabs the rebound. He’s fouled, and Maric hits both free throws. Man, this is tragic. Frank is clapping his hands, trying to pick up Jake, which is nice to see – especially after we’ve seen him berate the freshman guard so often. Everything about Jake’s drive was nice but the finish. And speaking of finishes, it looks like the Wildcats are just that. Mike had a clean look at a 3 that sailed long, and Ryan Anderson was fouled on the rebound. He hits the first, and the Huskers are up 5. He misses the second, but Fred Brown can’t save the ball from going out of bounds. Frank stands and stares with his arms crossed. Not good. This feels so familiar.
1:23 left, NU, 66-64
Hey, Duke’s losing. All is right in the world when Duke loses. OK, back to the action. Golden opportunity for Ron Anderson, and his reverse goes long. Nice defense by young Ron on the other end, by K-State can’t corral the loose ball. Harley checks back in, and it dawns on me – that’s the guy I thought looked like Tyronn Lue. It’s the dreaded balanced scoring thing again for the Wildcats — four K-State players in double figures, paced by Beasley’s 15, Pullen with 15, Walker (who hasn’t seen the floor since his technical at 9:38) with 12 and Blake’s 10. You all know how I feel about balanced scoring, especially with this team. It’s not a good sign. In other news, K-State’s bench was accounted for a whopping total of four points. I’m afraid that’s not very good, either. Empty possessions for both teams, but good looks too. Wow… A flop by Anderson wasn’t called, but Maric took the contact and threw it long off the rim. K-State got away with one there. Pullen brings it up the court. He passes to Stew, who loses it to Cookie Miller. Miller races to the other end, but Blake catches him and fouls him. Cookie misses the layup, but makes the first free throw with 1:30 left. He misses the second, and the rebound is wrapped up by Beasley. But Ryan Anderson takes it away, and NU burns a timeout, up two with 1:23 left.
4:23 left, NU, 65-64
They woke Mike up. But K-State still can’t get a crucial stop. Yeah, it’s Mike time. Doc Sadler has a confused expression on his face. He went from nine points to 17 in about a minute and a half. C’mon – who’s better? Man, the Wildcats could use a stop. But then Blake buries a 3. It seems Brad Underwood has inherited the role of demonstrative assistant coach on the bench — he ranted and raved next to Frank, who just stood by and watched the action. I do think Frank has mellowed since last year. Just a little.
7:32 left, NU, 57-53
Horrendous pass by Stew. That’s not how you want to come out of a timeout. Bill got caught in the jewels, but he’s good. Mike just slapped hands with Welmer – does that guy love K-State or what? Bill slapped with an awful foul – do you detect a negative tone from me? I’m sorry, I’ll try to be positive. Now I’ve seen it all – Maric just went around Beasley, and that will leave the NBA scouts in attendance scratching their heads. Bill… Bill… Bill. Oh boy. That’s all I’ve got. There are Wildcats – yes, I’m talking about you, Andre Gilbert – that are trying to do things they shouldn’t be trying to do. Penetrating and trying to find people inside? No. Ron Anderson works Maric over on a jump hook. I’m expecting a phone call from my Dad any moment now.
11:46 left, NU, 52-49
Shots are falling for the Huskers. Steve Harley is killing the Cats. The effort just isn’t there. It’s going to take coaching to pull this one out – mixing, matching and massaging the right mix. The lack of intensity is startling. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. Out of timeout, Bill scores, and then K-State gets a stop. And the Wildcats made a concerted effort to feed Mike, which resulted in a foul. Hmmm…
14:05 left in regulation, NU, 48-47
Back-to-back buckets for Mike, which is a good sign. But the Wildcats need to stiffen on Maric, whom the Huskers aren’t shy about feeding. And what about this Steve Harley fellow? Stew nails a 3, and K-State has yet to miss in the second half. There’s Harley again, and apparently it’s “Harley Day” in Lincoln. Lame joke, but work with me – it’s been a long night. Jake connects, and the Wildcats are scorching the nets. Now they just need more stops – it’s clear Frank Martin got into them a little bit during the intermission. First miss, but K-State retains possession. Some boos here from the “red out,” but they’ll get over it. Two-point game – but then Blake drills a 3 at 16:00 and K-State is up, 45-44. Nice take by Blake – that rhymed. The big fella, Maric, gives NU the lead back, 48-47. The crowd is getting louder, and I’d say it’s almost deafening in here but I’d be lying.
OK, had some major, major connection issues. But here’s what I pieced together so far, and I promise to do better in the second half.
HALFTIME, NU, 34-31
Mike has two fouls, and for the second road game in a row, he’s frustrated. My dad is going to be all fired up – Ron Anderson checks in with 1:46 left in the half. It’s been target practice in the first half – a lot of 3-point bombs for both teams. Plus, Maric has been able to get all of the position he wants in the paint. Really, it’s been a no-contest in that regard, and yet, the Wildcats are well within striking distance – thanks to Bill’s sudden aggressiveness. He’s taken it to the whole on multiple possessions, scoring at will. He’s even making his free throws. Sadler takes a T.O. with 45.8 seconds left in the first half with NU up 34-31. Why Mike was back on the floor is beyond me. Considering, it could have been a lot worse. It’s pretty much established fact by now – K-State isn’t very good on the road.
7:46 left, NU, 21-17
Not that any of you care, but my computer issues continue. I’ve missed a large portion of the game trying to deal with this. DK picks up a quick pair. That’s not good, if only because that’s less fouls to throw at Maric. Mike scores at 10:56, his first bucket. Huskers are hitting their 3s this time. Gilbert shows surprisingly good touch on a 15-footer. I’m miserable, by the way.
15:29 left in 1st half, KSU, 8-7
Jake nails a 3 to break the seal for K-State after nearly a minute and a half. What we’ve seen thus far is that Maric is going to be active – he blocked an attempt by Bill. The junk defenses continue for the Huskers, and really, what choice do they have? It’s Jake again, another 3. He’s got all 6. Steve Harley scores for NU. A little ragged for K-State. Ryan Anderson drills a 3, and NU is up, 7-6. Bill answers with a nice drive.
Experiencing some major computer issues, mainly in the name of no Internet access. Oh, some of my colleagues are connected, but not me. My computer is balking, or something to that effect. But whatever – I’m still going to do this, old-school style. That said, this place, the Devaney Center, is mad corny. I like where we’re sitting – mid-court, about 12-15 rows up – great sightlines. Before the game, only sign I saw was broken out when Aleks Maric came out of the locker room. “Thunder from Down Under.” Clever, I guess. Oh, wanna know how you combat that dreaded “red out”? By breaking out the black uniforms. Some older Nebraska fans stopped by the bench where Mike was sitting an hour or so before the game and proceeded to have a conversation with Mr. Beasley. It was comical, to say the least. The lady walked away, muttering something about asking for an autograph. Ah, Nebraska basketball fans.