Wizards

No. 20 Michigan visiting Neb 1st time since 1911

201210201900684129128-p2.jpeg

No. 20 Michigan visiting Neb 1st time since 1911

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) Playing at night has been right for Nebraska at Memorial Stadium.

The Cornhuskers go into Saturday's meeting with No. 20 Michigan on a 10-game win streak in prime-time home games.

There figures to be some extra energy in the stadium for this one.

Nebraska will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its NCAA-record sellout streak. This will be the 323rd in a row.

And Michigan (5-2, 3-0 Big Ten), the only college program with 900 all-time victories, will be making its first visit to Lincoln since 1911.

``It's going to be loud, and we've got to be prepared for that,'' Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson said. ``We have to be prepared to execute the offense every time we get a chance to get the ball. We have to be road warriors.''

The Huskers (5-2, 2-1) fed off their crowd in their last home game, coming back from a 17-point deficit to beat Wisconsin.

They'll take any advantage they can get as they try to corral Robinson and find a way to dent the fast-improving defense of the Legends Division-leading Wolverines.

``I like night games,'' Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah said. ``I feel like the fans really make a difference in a game, especially when we're playing a big team like Michigan.''

The Wolverines have lost both their night games. The first was the season-opening 41-14 defeat to defending national champion and top-ranked Alabama in Arlington, Texas. The other was 13-6 at Notre Dame, a game in which Robinson was intercepted four times.

``I think they're used to playing at night,'' Michigan coach Brady Hoke said of his players. ``I don't perceive that being a problem.''

Hoke, who brought his Ball State team to Memorial Stadium in 2007, described the Huskers' fans as ``emphatic.''

Loud is another way to put it, especially at night.

The din discombobulated Wisconsin on Sept. 29.

``I hope it's just as crazy as that night,'' cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste said.

Nebraska is 36-5 under the lights in Lincoln since the first night game was played there in 1986. Nebraska has won 28 of those games by at least 13 points.

Michigan, with a win, would put two games between itself and second-place Nebraska. The Wolverines finish the regular season with a visit to Minnesota, home games with Northwestern and Iowa and a trip to arch-rival Ohio State.

A win by Nebraska would move it into a tie atop the division and own the tiebreaker over Michigan. The Huskers end with a trip to Michigan State, home games against Penn State and Minnesota and a visit to Iowa.

The Huskers preserved their title hopes alive last week by rallying from 12 points down in the fourth quarter to beat Northwestern.

``You can't afford to lose,'' safety P.J. Smith said. ``That's what our mentality was the other night. Everyone was saying let's go out and win this game no matter what. We're going to have ups and downs but just keeping riding the wave. We can't slip up.''

Michigan, coming off a 12-10 victory over Michigan State, has won three straight since losing at Notre Dame. Hoke said he used the bye week that followed to chart the rest of the season.

``Every game's a championship game,'' he said, ``and this falls into that category.''

The game will be the second in college football history featuring a pair of quarterbacks with 5,000 yards passing and 2,000 yards rushing in their careers.

Robinson and Taylor Martinez are among just 18 quarterbacks in NCAA history to reach those totals. The only previous such meeting pitted Texas' Vince Young against Missouri's Brad Smith in 2005.

Robinson accounted for four touchdowns and Fitzgerald Toussaint ran for a career-high 138 yards in a 45-17 win over turnover-plagued Nebraska last year.

The Huskers bring in the Big Ten's top offense, at 512 yards a game. Michigan's defense is second in the Big Ten, allowing 286 yards. More impressive, the Wolverines have allowed no more than 13 points in five straight games.

``Watching them on film and watching what they've done so far this year, this will be a big test for us,'' Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said. ``Going on the road and playing an offense like this, we'll kind of see where we're at.''

Same goes for Nebraska's offense, which has put up big numbers despite being turnover-prone. The Huskers' 13 lost fumbles are most in the nation.

``I feel like I'll find out a lot about our offense, not just myself,'' said Abdullah, who probably will start in place of the injured Rex Burkhead. ``We've shown some good statistical numbers this year. We've been pretty consistent other than a lot of turnovers. I just want to see our offense go to the next level and play that perfect, clean game.''

Hoke, the Wolverines' second-year coach, remembers his Ball State Cardinals putting a fright into the Bill Callahan-coached Huskers five years ago.

Nebraska survived when Hoke's kicker hooked a 55-yard field-goal try wide left in the final seconds after one of his receiver's flubbed what would have been a sure touchdown.

``Got beat 41-40,'' Hoke said. ``Dropped the ball on the 5-yard line.''

Quick Links

5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

usatsi_10649028.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Wizards' 122-105 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night...

1. This was a tough one for the Wizards. For the third time this season, they got beaten by the Hornets and for the second straight time it was in a blowout.

They still had their moments, though, including this alley-oop from Tomas Satoransky (11 points) to Markieff Morris (13 points, eight assists, six rebounds). It was the second alley-oop connection for those two in as many games:

PODCAST: WHAT THE SESSIONS SIGNING MEANS FOR SATORANSKY

2. This was a play that encapsulated the Wizards' night. Jodie Meeks drew a flagrant foul on Michael Carter-Williams, but took a hard shot to the head:

3. Kelly Oubre, Jr. had a solid game with 11 points, including this big dunk:

RELATED: 5 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT RAMON SESSIONS

4. Speaking of Oubre, he helped the Wizards close the first half with a late surge. The real highlight was Bradley Beal stealing the ball and hitting a corner three at the buzzer:

5. Beal ended up with 33 points, six assists and six rebounds. Here's an and-1 he got to go down in the second half:

All in all, it was an ugly performance for the Wizards. To cheer you up, we'll leave you with this young fan who had a great time at Capital One Arena despite the result:

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

 

Quick Links

Wizards suffer lopsided loss against Hornets, who have had their number this season

usatsi_10648782.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Wizards suffer lopsided loss against Hornets, who have had their number this season

The Washington Wizards lost to the Charlotte Hornets 122-105 on Friday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Bad matchup: Despite their poor record, there is something about this Charlotte Hornets team that gives the Wizards trouble. The Wizards lost to the Hornets (26-33) for the third time in three tries this season on Friday night and, aside from a push in the third quarter, they were never really in it.

All in all, it was a dud of a game for the Wizards who were probably due for one. They had won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall got injured. They were also coming off a huge road win the night before in Cleveland, a game that started an hour later than usual.

It was a tough turnaround and the Wizards sure looked like it. It was evident in their defense and unforced errors. They did, however, have a decent shooting night. They shot 49.4 percent from the field 16-for-17 from the free throw line.

The Wizards' second unit didn't provide a lift outside of Kelly Oubre, Jr. (11 points). Mike Scott, one of their best bench options, was held scoreless.

PODCAST: WHAT THE SESSIONS SIGNING MEANS FOR SATORANSKY

Ugly first half: The Wizards only trailed by 12 points at halftime, but that score was skewed by a five-point push in the final seconds. The Hornets dominated for much of the first two quarters and did so by hitting threes and forcing turnovers. Those mistakes dug the Wizards a hole they never recovered from.

The Wizards had 10 turnovers in the first half, the same amount they had in their entire game the night before. Limiting mistakes was a big reason they beat the Cavaliers, yet the script was flipped by Charlotte.

The Hornets capitalized with 23 points off those 10 first-half turnovers. The Wizards had 14 giveaways for the games that led to 28 total points. 

Charlotte was 7-for-11 from three at one point in the first half and finished 17-for-39 (43.6%) for the game. That is very uncharacteristic for the Wizards, who entered the night second in the NBA in opponents three-point percentage.

Again, though, the first half ended well as Oubre and Bradley Beal gave the Wizards a jolt in the final seconds:

RELATED: 5 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT RAMON SESSIONS

Bad defense: The Wizards have played some great defense in recent weeks, but they just didn't have it on Friday night. Most surprising were the guys that hurt them most.

Dwight Howard was limited to 11 points and six rebounds and Kemba Walker didn't score his first points until the final minute of the first half. But others like Frank Kaminsky (23 points), Marvin Williams (15 points) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14 points) got pretty much anything they wanted.

For Walker, it was a tale of two halves. He was held in check by Tomas Satoransky in the first half, but broke out in the third quarter and finished with 24 points and seven rebounds. Maybe it was tired legs on the Wizards' part, but Walker just kept dribbling until he got space and once he did, he knocked down shots.

Much like Kyle Lowry did a few weeks ago, Walker made adjustments to find success against Satoransky. We haven't seen that happen much since Wall went out, but those two have given him some trouble. Both guys are considerably smaller than Satoransky and very quick. Maybe there's something to that.

Add it all up and this was one of the worst defensive games of the season for the Wizards. They allowed their most points in a game since Jan. 17 against, you guessed it, the Hornets. Only three times this year have they given up more than what they allowed on Friday.

No Sessions: The Wizards did not debut their newest player on Friday night, which was probably to be expected given Ramon Sessions has not had any practice time yet. That is part of why he didn't play, but it's also another indication that he is unlikely to play much with the Wizards. Sessions is on a 10-day contract and is not expected to supplant either Satoransky or Tim Frazier at point guard. Frazier would seem to be the guy in danger of losing minutes, but it was business as usual for him against the Hornets.

Up next: The Wizards are off Saturday before returning to action at home against the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS