2:05 PM ET, December 20, 2009
LINCOLN, Neb. -- The secret is out: Nebraska can play with the best in the country.The Cornhuskers (No. 18 ESPN/USA Today, No. 20 AP) established themselves as a legitimate player on the national scene Sunday, rolling to a 77-63 victory over LSU (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today, No. 5 AP) behind Kelsey Griffin's 30 points and 14 rebounds."Some people have been questioning our strength of schedule, so to prove we can play with some of the best teams, it's a great win," Griffin said. "I'm kind of hoping it put us on the map."The Huskers finished 15-16 a year ago and were picked sixth in the Big 12 in the preseason. They quietly rolled off 10 straight wins before LSU came into the Devaney Sports Center without a loss on the season.Nebraska (11-0), out to its best start in school history and on its longest winning streak ever, dominated the battle of the unbeatens. The Huskers got out to a 21-4 lead, and after LSU (9-1) pulled within five points early in the second half, they went on a 12-2 run and led by double digits the rest of the game."Nebraska's for real," LSU coach Van Chancellor said. "The Big 12 better look out."LSU is the highest-ranked opponent Nebraska has beaten since a triple-overtime win over a second-ranked Baylor team in the 2004-05 season.Cory Montgomery added 16 points and Dominique Kelley 13 for Nebraska."I expected us to come here and be highly competitive," Nebraska coach Connie Yori said. "One of the things we talked a lot about is having to expect to win this game. We can't be satisfied with playing close or playing a good game. We have to expect it. Our players really took that to heart."Allison Hightower had 15 points and Katherine Graham 12 for LSU, which had come into the game with an average winning margin of 32 points.Griffin led a balanced offense and Nebraska's defense forced LSU into bad shots throughout the game. Griffin made 12 of 19 shots, doing most of her damage under the basket in front of 7,717, the largest crowd in school history for a nonconference game."For a lot of people, this is the first time they've seen Kelsey," Yori said. "I've been watching her for four years. I've seen this kind of performance in big games time and time again. For a lot of folks who just walked in for the first time and watched this, they're like, 'Wow, she's really good.' I've known it since she walked on campus. She's an All-American type of player."LSU, which shot 39.3 percent, had trouble early dealing with Nebraska's full-court man-to-man defense, missing 12 of its first 14 shots.Hightower scored nine points in an 18-6 run that got LSU back in the game. The Tigers were within five after Latear Eason stole the ball from Kelley and passed to Hightower, who drove the length of the court for a layup.But the Huskers pulled away again, with Kelley putting back a Griffin miss and Yvonne Turner hitting a jumper to start the decisive run that put Nebraska ahead 53-38."Connie did a heck of a lot better job than I did," Chancellor said. "She had her team 10,000 times better prepared than I did. I'm going to tell you now, they're a top 10 or 12 team."Foul trouble plagued the Tigers. LaSondra Barrett drew her fourth foul 2:55 into the second half. Eason was called for her fourth with 14:58 left and Graham her fourth with 11:28 left.Chancellor's frustration showed early. He drew a technical less than eight minutes in for walking onto the court while yelling and pointing a finger at official Melissa Barlow.Kelley made the free throws and, after Lindsey Moore drew a charge by Eason, Montgomery hit a 3-pointer to give the Huskers their 21-4 lead."They came ready to play," said Hightower, held to 7-for-21 shooting. "They jumped on us right from the beginning. It was almost like it was too late. They had the momentum, the energy, and they were executing well and playing defense well."
|FG Made-Attempted||24-61 (.393)||27-54 (.500)|
|3P Made-Attempted||0-4 (.000)||4-12 (.333)|
|FT Made-Attempted||15-18 (.833)||19-25 (.760)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||25 (0/0)||18 (0/0)|