Posted by: Sports
Nebraska made its free throws down the stretch when it had to, as the Huskers nearly gave away a 19-point lead before holding on for a 68-59 win over Nicholls State Saturday afternoon in front of a crowd of 11,011 at the Devaney Center.
The Huskers, who improved to 9-4 on the season, went 10-of-10 from the foul line in the final minute after struggling from the charity stripe for most of the afternoon. Brandon Ubel led four Huskers in double figures with 18 points, including 10-of-11 from the free throw line, setting career highs in free throws made and attempted. Ubel was 6-of-6 in the final minute to send the Huskers into Big Ten play on a winning note.
Nicholls State, which never led, pulled to within 58-54 after a T.J Carpenter 3-pointer with 1:04 left before Ubel got to the line on the inbounds play with 57 seconds left. The Huskers were just 10-of-23 on the day from the line at that point, including 8-of-18 in the second half, but the senior calmly sank both free throws to push the lead back to six. The Colonels got to within 60-56 on its next offensive possession, but David Rivers knocked down another two free throws, as Nebraska ended Nicholls State's comeback bid.
Dylan Talley and David Rivers had 12 each for Nebraska, while Ray Gallegos was the fourth Husker in double figures with 10 points, as Nebraska took control midway through the first half and led by as many as 19 points with 12 minutes remaining.
Nebraska jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the first five minutes and led 12-10 before Ubel keyed a 13-0 surge over a span of 4:17 to build a 15-point lead. Ubel scored six of his eight first-half points in the run, as the Huskers took a 15-point lead at 25-10 after a Talley 3-pointer. In all, the Huskers held Nicholls State (1-9) to just 21 percent shooting in the first half in building a 31-17 halftime lead.
Nicholls State was within 12 early in the second half before Gallegos sparked a 7-0 run with consecutive 3-pointers to give Nebraska a 49-30 lead with 12:02 left. Nebraska's attack would sputter, and Nichols State responded with a 9-2 spurt to get within 51-39 after 3-point play by T. J. Carpenter with 7:37 left. The Huskers would eventually push the margin to 56-42 on a Dylan Talley 3-pointer with 5:51 left, but the visitors used a 12-2 spurt to close within four points in the final minute.
Dantrell Thomas led three Nicholls State players with 18 points, including 16 points in the second half after 1-of-11 shooting in the first 20 minutes.
The Huskers open Big Ten Conference action on Wednesday, Jan. 3, when the Huskers travel to Ohio State. Tipoff is slated for 5:30 p.m. (central) and will be carried on the Husker Sports Network and televised on BTN.
*-Nebraska closed non-conference play with a 9-4 record, including a 7-2 mark at home.
*-Nebraska committed a season-low seven turnovers (previous season low was eight at Wake Forest). NU has committed 10 turnovers or less four times in 2012-13.
*-Nebraska has now held seven of its 12 opponents to under 60 points, and is 6-1 when holding foes to 60 points or less.
*-Brandon Ubel set career highs in free throws made (10) and attempted (11), as he finished with 18 points, his highest output since the season opener. It is the second-highest total of his career
*-Nebraska placed four players in double figures, matching a season high. NU is 7-0 when getting at least three players in double figures.
*-Nebraska set season highs in free throws (20) and attempts (33), but shot 60.6 percent from the line. It is NU's second-lowest FT percentage of the season (min. 10 att.). NU shot 57.9 percent against Tulane.
*-David Rivers finished with 12 points, the second time this season he has finished in double figures.
Nebraska Head Coach Tim Miles
"I have one regret today. That with 7:47 left in the under-eight timeout, I said it's just like Jacksonville State. Let's go show them what we've got. I shouldn't have said that."
On what he should've said
"Anything but that, I have a feeling. Late in the game you are supposed to say ‘complete passes,' not ‘don't turn the ball over.' They hear turn the ball over. They don't hear the 'don't' part. I don't know what I should've said, but not that."
On the team's effort today
"I had an issue with mentality, with aggressiveness and confidence. I think when you get punched, you just kind of freeze up, and I think that's what happened. As a coach, that doesn't matter. For instance, in the last minute and a half, you didn't have to run an offense. You just had to complete the first pass and hope that those seven-of-eight free throws you just missed flips the other way for you, which it did. You've got to get those guys in a competitive mode and they have to build confidence. I don't think we did that today and that's what's disappointing about the effort."
On if that's why Nicholls State was scoring at ease inside in the second half
"I asked the guys afterwards and said ‘you tell me.' I'm only such a so-so mind reader. What did you feel? And Brandon Ubel said ‘I thought we mentally relaxed. I thought once we got ahead, we just (coasted).' And every position has to matter to you. These kids nowadays with AAU are a part of a larger societal problem. They play so many games. When I was a kid, if you missed a practice or a game, that crushed you and broke your heart. That's not the case anymore. Now we're playing games all the time from whatever game on. Life's just a big game. That's not what it's really about. Truly, every possession has to matter to you. When things get tight, you have to eliminate fear, worry and doubt. I don't think we did that in any way, shape or form."
On the team's mentality heading to Ohio State
"We're the underdog, so we've got nothing to lose. Let's go figure it out and try to win the game."
Nebraska Forward Brandon Ubel
On if this game had similarities to Jacksonville State
"Yeah, way too many—and to a similar extent, Central Michigan. I don't know if you guys saw that one or listened to it, but we got up big and then let them back in. I don't know what happens mentally for us, but we just kind of relax. I'm not sure why. We've got to get that fixed and we've got to put together 40 minutes, because things are about to get real here in about three days."
On what, besides relaxing, went wrong defensively in the second half
"That has something to do with it. We just weren't moving as quickly in our rotations. We weren't filling gaps, so guys just saw open lanes to drive and then we were getting beat one-on-one. It takes five guys to guard the ball, and we were trying to do it with one guy, and that one guy was getting beat. We all need to do a better job of playing 40 minutes of defense together."
On what NU needs to do as they open conference play
"We just need to put together 40 minutes. I mean, we did it—we've done that this season. We played well against Wake Forest, USC early on, we were getting better and better, and then we just got some big leads lately and tended to relax. Maybe what we need is a close game, maybe that will help us out. Seriously though, we need to put together 40 minutes; we get up ten or down ten, but the game's not over. You just kind of have to have that mentality."
Nicholls State Head Coach J.P. Piper
"I guess we are road weary. We just did not have it in the first half, no pop, no zip, and I think we started 1-10 or 1-11 in the first half. I didn't think Fred (Hunter) got off to a good start. He didn't have enough energy, so we sent a little message to Freddy and sat him on the stool and let him figure out how hard he wanted to play. I just told the team that if we can figure out how to do what we did for 20 minutes in the second half… I think we win more games than we lose."
On halftime adjustments
"We didn't change anything at halftime for the approach to the game, which was how hard are we going to play? The game plan stayed the same, the adjustments were to play harder, and be more determined to take the ball to the whole."