The Sports Network
By Scott Haynes, Senior College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bob Devaney Sports Center (13,595) -- Lincoln, Nebraska. Television: Big 12 Network. Home Record: Texas 15-1, Nebraska 15-1. Away Record: Texas 6-1, Nebraska 1-5. Neutral Record: Texas 2-1, Nebraska 1-2. Conference Record: Texas 11-0, Nebraska 5-6. Series Record: Texas leads, 16-5.
GAME NOTES: The third-ranked Texas Longhorns will attempt to take one step closer to a Big 12 regular season title, as they invade Lincoln to battle the Nebraska Cornhuskers in conference action from the Devaney Sports Center.
Rick Barnes' Longhorns have set a school record by winning their first 11 Big 12 contests and currently sit atop the league standings as a result. The team's 23-3 overall record represents the best 26-game start since the 1946-47 Final Four team. UT kept its conference record unblemished with a 73-55 victory over Oklahoma State on Wednesday.
Doc Sadler's Cornhuskers are closing up their last season in the Big 12 and would like nothing better than to add a marquee victory over a top team like Texas to its accomplishments this year. The team has long been out of the conference race, but has won two straight games entering this contest, including a thrilling 59-58 win at Oklahoma. The Cornhuskers have enjoyed the majority of their success this season in Lincoln, winning 15 of the 16 games on their home floor.
Texas has won eight of the last nine meetings to take a 16-5 series advantage and is 12-3 against Nebraska since the inception of the Big 12. However, three of the Huskers' five wins have come against nationally-ranked Texas squads.
The Longhorns have enjoyed a great deal of success this season thanks to their stingy play at the defensive end of the court. Texas is allowing a mere 59.5 ppg this year and have been even better against league foes at a mere 54.6 ppg. The strong defense is what fuels this team, but the offensive options are equally impressive, headlined by sophomore star Jordan Hamilton. The 6-9 youngster is among the league leaders in scoring at 18.7 ppg, while possession great range (.407 from behind the arc) and superior rebounding skills (7.6 rpg). Fellow forwards Tristan Thompson (12.8 ppg. 7.4 rpg) and Gary Johnson (12.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg) complete a potent frontcourt. Freshman point guard Cory Joseph (11.0 ppg, team-high 72 assists) and sophomore guard J'Covan Brown (8.8 ppg) provide valuable backcourt balance. The Longhorns were at their defensive best against OSU this week, holding the Cowboys to a mere .375 shooting while forcing 17 turnovers. Johnson led the way for UT with a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds. Hamilton poured in 15 points, followed by Thompson and Joseph at 14 and 11 points, respectively.
The Cornhuskers almost let one slip away in Norman this week, but a favorable ruling after time expired, turned what was originally a tied game into a one- point win for the Huskers. OU's Cade Davis' three-pointer seemed to tie the game at the buzzer, but it was ruled that his foot was on the line, leaving the hometown Sooners one point short. Jorge Brian Diaz led the way for Nebraska with 17 points. Toney McCray and Caleb Walker finished with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Despite scoring just 59 points in the contest, NU shot an efficient .523 from the floor. The Cornhuskers aren't known for their offensive prowess, averaging just 67.5 ppg on the year, The defensive effort has been much better, holding foes to just 58.8 ppg and a meager .380 shooting. Lance Jeter and Diaz are the top two scorers at 11.0 and 10.4 ppg, respectively.
Lincoln has been a safe haven for the Cornhuskers this season, with their only loss coming against the high-powered Kansas Jayhawks. Texas presents a different challenge though and the Longhorns' penchant for strong interior play and full-court pressure will provide the difference in this one. It may not be high scoring, but Texas will get the job done nonetheless on the road.