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Slow start haunts men’s basketball in 89-75 loss against Nebraska

The men’s basketball team allowed Nebraska to score the first 10 points of its game Saturday in the Sun Bowl Invitational.

The cushion Central Michigan provided the Cornhuskers was the difference as the margin hovered around 10 points for most of the game in its 89-75 loss.

The Chippewas won 92-80 two nights ago against Texas State in Mount Pleasant, but head coach Keno Davis said he would not use travel and the quick turnaround as an excuse for being sluggish at the beginning.

“We felt pretty good coming into this game,” he said. “I felt our guys fought extremely hard after that; just didn’t have enough to match up with the bigger, stronger team on the inside to get the margin down to where we could challenge at the end.”

Senior Kyle Randall kept Nebraska from breaking it open with a career-high 27 points, mostly coming from the free throw line where he made all 15 attempts.

“I just did what the team needs me to do,” Randall said. “We were struggling to put the ball in. We got them in foul trouble early. I tried to draw a lot of fouls, so I figured I would get the clock stopped (and) make the game a little longer.”

He also had eight rebounds and three assist.

“Kyle Randall continues to impress,” Davis said. “I think people realize he’s a complete player, and he will do whatever is needed for the team.”

After the 10-0 run by the Cornhuskers to start the game, the two teams were even the rest of the half with the score at 43-33, Nebraska, at halftime.

The Cornhuskers made 63 percent of its shots in the first half.  But CMU capitalized from the free-throw line making 14 and was 27-of-33 for the game.

In the second half, Randall made a three-pointer to cut the lead to six, with 14:54 left, to make it 50-44, the smallest deficit the Chippewas faced for the rest of the game.

Nebraska used a physical brand of basketball known by Big Ten teams.  They outscored the Chippewas in the paint, 40-16, and had five more rebounds.

CMU plays in the consolation round against the loser of the match-up between the host UTEP and Arkansas-Pine Bluff at 7 p.m. Sunday.

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