The final three basketball games of Nebraska's season are spaced out over 11 days, starting with a Thursday trip to Michigan.

That's given Tim Miles and his staff plenty of time to preach the power of sticking to it, the Huskers coach said Tuesday night during his appearance on "Sports Nightly."

"Here's what I told them today: The most difficult times have to bring out the best in you, not the worst in you," Miles said. "And oftentimes, in the most difficult times, it's easy for the worst to come out — overreact or get frustrated or overwhelmed and do nothing.

"But what is the best in you? And that's what I asked our guys. Where do we go and get you at your best?"

Times have certainly been tough. A 75-72 home loss to No. 15 Purdue gave Nebraska (15-13, 5-12 Big Ten) its ninth defeat in its last 11 games, and 11th in its last 15. What remains are road trips to the No. 9-ranked Wolverines and No. 6 Michigan State and a regular-season finale at home against No. 22 Iowa.

Quad 1 games, all three. And while the odds are long, they still provide the Huskers with an opportunity. That fact surprised even Miles recently.

"I was laughing the other day. I'm mostly unplugged, but occasionally, I'll scroll through (Twitter)," Miles said. "Joe Lunardi (ESPN bracketologist) had something in there, and it said: first four out, Nebraska. And I'm like, 'We're still on anybody's radar right now? How is that possible?'"

Nebraska's strong work earlier in the season still has given it even the faintest of hope. It's now up to the Huskers to find a way to realize that hope, Miles said.

"If we can just do enough to do something. Whether it be the NCAA or whatever," Miles said. "You're not going to go to your guys and say, let's play in the NIT. They don't want to hear that; nobody wants to hear that. But let's go be as good as you can be."

Miles also touched on the roster hits Nebraska has taken going back to last spring that have taken their toll on NU's depth and played a role in 2019's slide.

Center Jordy Tshimanga transferred in late July, a few months after highly sought-after guard Xavier Johnson asked for his release after former NU assistant Kenya Hunter left for Connecticut. Add in the season-ending injuries to Isaac Copeland (against Ohio State) and freshman Karrington Davis (in October).

Johnson is currently averaging 16 points per game for Pitt. Davis, Miles said, is already one of Nebraska's strongest players, and the only one on the roster bench pressing more than 300 pounds. The coaching staff expected the forward to be in the rotation had he stayed healthy.

"So when you take four of those guys out of there, and then you've got the Big Ten as good as it is, that's how these things happen," Miles said. "It's not an excuse, it's just a fact. There's no doubt missing a big body has been an issue."

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


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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