Huskers Fall Short to Missouri

Toney McCray had a season-high 17 points for Nebraska, but a hot start by Missouri's Marcus Denmon keyed the No. 15 Tigers' to a 77-69 win Wednesday night.

The Huskers (13-2, 1-1 Big 12) spotted Missouri (15-2, 1-1 Big 12) the first eight points of the night and were forced to play catch up the rest of the evening. Denmon scored eight of the Tigers' first 10 points on his way to matching his career high with a 27-point effort.

Denmon hit 5-of-7 from 3-point range on the night and had 14 first-half points as Missouri led by as many as 13 in the first half before the Huskers fought back behind McCray. The Husker junior scored 10 points after the break, as Nebraska pulled to within three early in the second half and stayed within striking distance until the Tigers scored the final four points to complete the eight-point win.

Nebraska was down 72-61 before McCray hit a 3-pointer and layup to put the Huskers within six with 1:02 remaining. Laurence Bowers split a pair of free throws on MU's next possession before Kamyron Brown's conventional 3-point play pulled the visitors within 73-69 with 31 seconds left.

That would be as close as Nebraska would get in the waning seconds, as Denmon and Kim English each converted a pair of free throws to end the Huskers' bid for a 12th straight win.

Caleb Walker had 12 points, including a pair of 3-pointers in a losing effort for the Huskers, while Ricardo Ratliffe and Bowers joined Denmon in double figures with 12 points apiece for the Tigers.

Missouri got off to a great start behind Denmon, who hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored eight of the Tigers' first 10 points, as MU jumped to a 10-2 lead. Nebraska pulled to with 10-7 after a McCray 3-pointer and a Walker tip-in, but a Denmon 3 after an offensive rebound triggered a 7-0 run to give the hosts a 10-point lead.

Nebraska eventually fell behind 28-15 before Jorge Brian Diaz and Brandon Richardson combined for six straight points to make it 28-21 game. The Tigers eventually took the lead back to 12, at 34-22, but Nebraska scored six of the final eight points of the stanza to make it a 36-28 game at the break.

Denmon had 14 points, including a perfect 4-of-4 from 3-point range in the first half.

McCray got the Huskers off to a good start after the break, scoring five early points in the opening minute, as his 3-point play pulled Nebraska within 38-33. NU trailed 44-37 before a Richardson jumper and a layup by Caleb Walker pulled NU within 44-41 with 15:51 left. Denmon then helped the Tigers respond with a 9-2 run with a three-point play and a long 3-pointer to make it 53-43 with 13:03 left.

Nebraska, which shot 50 percent from the floor in the second half, pulled to within 55-48, but two costly charges wiped out baskets, and Missouri pushed the lead to 59-48 on a Michael Dixon jumper with 8:19 remaining. Nebraska continued to chipped away, as a Walker 3-pointer and a Lance Jeter layup pulled the Huskers within six points at 59-53.

NU got within 63-58 after a Walker 3-pointer, but six straight Missouri points pushed the lead back to 11, at 69-59 after a Denmon dunk.

The Huskers return to action Saturday afternoon, as they take on No. 3 Kansas at 1 p.m. in Lawrence. The game will be televised nationally on ESPNU.

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