Nebraska Men’s Basketball showed flashes of heroics Saturday afternoon but any hope at grabbing the program’s first win in 2019 was drowned by miscues.
The Huskers (0-2) blew a 14-point second-half lead to Southern Utah (2-0) and lost in double overtime at The Pinnacle Bank Arena 79-78.
Southern Utah’s Cameron Oluyitan hit a baseline jump shot to take the clinching lead with 11.8 seconds left. NU’s Cam Mack’s layup at the buzzer missed and the Huskers lost back-to-back games for the first time since 1987-88.
“I thought we had a good play drawn up at the end, but unfortunately just didn’t finish it,” Nebraska Coach Fred Holberg said. “The competitive spirit of this group was where it needed to be today, and it’s something we can build on.”
Southern Utah looked as if they were going to escape in regulation after two free throws by Dwayne Morgan with 5.1 seconds remaining, but NU’s Jervay Green canned a long three pointer at the buzzer to send the game to overtime.
— Nebraska On BTN (@NebraskaOnBTN) November 9, 2019
“Great point guard gave me the ball. I saw the time was going down and just shot it. And made it,” Green said.
The Husker’s showed promised improvement from the opening game with only one missed free throw in the first half and started the game shooting 50 percent from the floor and holding Southern Utah’s offense in the low 20s for field goal percentage.
“I thought our guys really went out and competed today. I thought we got off to a great start. We challenged them the last few days to put that last frustrating loss behind us, and they responded with great energy,” Hoiberg said.
Improved balance in scoring helped.
Eight Huskers scored, including four in double figures.
Green finished with 18, behind Kevin Cross who had a game-high 19 points.
“Look at what Kevin did today, I thought he was one of the best players on the floor for us. He was finishing, he’s got a good feel in the middle of that zone,” Hoiberg said. “We felt Kevin was the guy to have out there. I’ll say this about Kevin, he’s really bought into getting his body right so he could play sustained minutes tonight.”
After leading by 11 at the break and as much as 14 in the second-half, the tide turned against Nebraska and Southern Utah took advantage.
“We didn’t execute great in the first half. I thought we had a lot of open looks. We were a little nervous and we fired some shots that we normally make,” SUU Coach Todd Simon said. “We were a little antsy around the rim. We calmed down and did a much better job executing late in the second half and in the overtimes.”
Turnovers, missed free throws, rebounds and missed shots piled up. Nebraska went 3-12 from the field, 0-6 from three and a glaring 3/7 at the foul line in both overtimes. After an 8/9 performance from the stripe in the first half, the Huskers finished 19/29 in the second half including one that would’ve tied the game in the second overtime.
SUU’s Dre Martin got called for his second flop of the game which results in a one-shot technical foul per a new rule by the NCAA. Matej Kavas missed the tying shot and Southern Utah led 73-72 with just over two minutes left.
Later on, NU surged ahead for a 76-73 lead after guard Cam Mack found Green for a layup after a Dachon Burke was fouled and made both shots, but Southern Utah again converted on offense and eventually held on.
Nebraska had a chance in the first overtime when they botched an alley-oop from Mack to Green that would’ve given them the lead with 9 seconds left. The pass hit part of the backboard.
Nebraska shot 37 percent from the field, 19 percent from three and committed 13 turnovers. SUU shot 40 percent from the field, an icy 19 percent beyond the arc and 62 percent from the foul line.
They were led by Morgan who finished with 19. Maine Fausett added 13.
The Huskers will host South Dakota State next Friday at 8 p.m. Pregame on KLIN begins at 7.
“If we continue to take steps, the results will take care of themselves. That’s the biggest thing for our group right now, to continue to go out there and battle. I’m proud of the way they went out there and battled and fought. [SUU] is a good team,” Hoiberg said. “They’re long, they’re athletic and look like a lot of Big Ten teams will. Now that we’ve seen that length, hopefully we’ll be better next time we see it.”
Other game notes:
*-Cam Mack’s 11 assists were the most by a Husker since Lance Jeter had 12 against Kansas State on Feb. 17, 2010.
*-Mack finished with his first career double-double with 13 point and 11 assists, while also adding seven rebounds. It was the first points-assists double-double since Glynn Watson had 10 points and 10 dimes against Cal State Fullerton last season.
*-Freshman Kevin Cross led the Huskers with 19 points, marking the first time since Nov. 5, 2017 that a freshmen led NU in scoring (Isaiah Roby, 10)
*-Nebraska falls to 62-48 all-time in overtime games with today’s OT loss. Prior to today, the Huskers had won six straight multi-OT games dating back to the 2000-01 season.