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Nebraska vs. Oklahoma State, 12.15

Nebraska guard Glynn Watson dribbles up court during Sunday's game against Oklahoma State at the Sanford Pentagon. Nebraska won 79-56, the Huskers' second straight win.

This is, as Tim Miles rightly pointed out Friday, a different Nebraska basketball team. More maturity, more talent, more know-how than previous Husker squads that went into the holiday break and came out on the other side with a stunning loss.

So don't expect NU to be caught off-guard Saturday afternoon when Cal State Fullerton comes into Pinnacle Bank Arena for a 1 p.m. tip.

"We don’t have the same team we had in previous years, so that’s one good problem. The other one is, you can’t hold that against guys that weren’t here, or one or two guys," Miles said of Nebraska's past failures against the likes of Incarnate Word, Samford and Gardner-Webb.

"But we do try and alarm them, and say, 'Don’t play your way out of the NCAA (Tournament).' But we don’t reference the past, because I don’t think it does you any good in a positive or negative way."

If their past two games weren't played so far apart, you could say the Huskers were riding a nice wave of momentum into Saturday's matchup against the 3-8 Titans.

NU has beaten Creighton at home and Oklahoma State at a neutral site in its last two games. But the Oklahoma State game was a week ago. The Creighton game was a week before that.

"It’s good for you if your guys are sick or whatever and need some time off. But you do have to, in these breaks, keep that competitive fire," Miles said. "Because you don’t want to lose your momentum you’ve had going. Hopefully this team shows its maturity, is able to maintain that, and get out and do it early."

Saturday's game is the only matchup in a 13-day stretch for the Huskers, who won't play again until hosting Southwest Minnesota State on Dec. 29. When that game tips, it will be the end of a stretch that has seen Nebraska play just three games in three weeks.

With finals out of the way, Nebraska has done little other than practice and recuperate from any nagging injuries or illnesses. And while the timing is good with illness running through the team last week, it's still a challenge to keep the competitive juices flowing.

"I think Coach Miles has been doing a good job telling us we can’t worry about the holiday right now. We get a little break after this, so we’ve just got to come out strong and bring our own energy," senior guard Glynn Watson said. "We know it’s probably not going to be a lot of people here, so we’ve got to bring our own energy and run to the fight."

The Titans have a winning pedigree. They won the Big West Conference and went to the NCAA Tournament last season, and returned four starters from that 20-12 team.

The Titans have taken Arizona State to double-overtime this season, and lost by seven to Wake Forest.

Miles said the Huskers, other than freshman guard Amir Harris (mononucleosis), are healthy again after last week's bug that sent Thomas Allen to the hospital and also had Isaiah Roby ailing.

And the coach should know quickly if his team is ready to play.

"Just, are we the aggressor? The aggressor always wins, so which team’s going to be more aggressive? And they’re an aggressive team by nature," Miles said. "And then attention to detail — this guy we know is a right-hand driver; we’re not gonna let him get to his right hand. This guy’s a shooter — we’re not going to let him get off a three. So just the attention to detail."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7436 or cbasnett@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.

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Husker basketball reporter

A Ravenna native, Chris covers the University of Nebraska men's basketball team and assists with football coverage. He spent nearly 10 years covering sports at the Kearney Hub and nearly four years at the Springfield News-Leader in Springfield, Mo.

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