Huskers Fall to KSU

Nebraska overcame a seven-point first half deficit and was within one point with 1:31 remaining, but Kansas State point guard Jacob Pullen scored 20 of his game-high 27 points in the second half, lifting the Wildcats to a 61-57 win over the Huskers on Wednesday night at the Devaney Center.

Nebraska, which held its last lead at 38-37 with 14:31 left, trimmed a six-point deficit to 54-53 after Lance Jeter's basket and had an opportunity to tie the score, but Jeter's free throw bounced off the rim. The Wildcats extended their lead to 55-53 after Will Spradling split a pair of free throws with 1:04 left, and after a missed Husker 3-point attempt, hit the free throws down the stretch.

KSU (19-9, 7-6 Big 12) went 7-of-10 from the foul line in the final 1:04 to remain ahead, as Pullen was a perfect 4-of-4 from the line.

The Huskers (18-9, 6-7 Big 12) pulled to within 58-56 on Eshaunte Jones' 3-pointer with 13 seconds left and had a chance trailing 59-56 after Martavious Irving split two free throws. KSU fouled Jeter with eight seconds left before he was able to get a good look at a 3-pointer. The senior hit the first attempt and intentionally missed the second, but Nebraska was unable to get a rebound as the ball didn't hit the rim and Pullen hit two free throws with four seconds left to ice the game.

It was a defensive struggle for both teams, as both squads were held under 40 percent, but Nebraska was doomed by 17 turnovers which were converted to 24 points, while KSU had just 10 turnovers.

"Kansas State is a very good basketball team," head coach Doc Sadler said. "They are athletic inside and have some size, (but) the bottom line is, when you play teams as good as Kansas State, you can't turn the basketball over 17 times. They had 24 points off our turnovers and I don't think we can guard any better than we guarded."

Jeter led Nebraska with 11 points, seven rebounds and three assists, while juniors Brandon Richardson and Caleb Walker chipped in nine points apiece, as the Huskers saw their three-game win streak snapped and lost for just the second time at home all season.

Pullen led all scorers with 27 points, hitting 10-of-11 from the line to off-set a 7-of-17 performance from the floor, while Rodney McGruder added 11 points and eight rebounds Nebraska fought through a scrappy first half in which it committed 12 turnovers, but trailed just 29-27 at the break. McGruder helped KSU to a quick start, scoring seven of his points in the first six and a half minutes to build a 12-8 lead. Nebraska eventually forged ahead 13-12 after a Jeter lay-up, but Kansas State used a 7-0 spurt to build a 19-13 lead after a Jamar Samuels jumper.

The Wildcats eventually pushed the lead to seven points, before a three-point play from Caleb Walker and two Brandon Ubel free throws pulled the Huskers within 23-21. Nebraska trailed 27-23 before a Jones basket and two Richardson free throws tied the score at 27 with 1:56 left in the half but Pullen hit a lay-up with 28 seconds left to spot the visitors a two-point halftime lead.

The Huskers had a strong effort to open the second half, beginning with a hook shot from sophomore Jorge Brian Diaz to tie the game 29-29. After a Pullen 3-pointer, Walker answered with a trey from the corner to tie it again, 32-32, in a highly-energized start to the second half. Jeter then ignited the crowd with a fadeaway 3-pointer from the corner to give NU a 35-34 lead. K-State retook the lead again before Walker drove to the bucket and converted a 3-point play to put NU ahead 38-37.

The lead would be short-lived as KSU ran off the next six points to build a 43-38 lead after Pullen's 3-pointer. The Wildcats' lead would hover until a four-point sequence nearly drew the game evening.

Trailing 48-43 with 5:24 left, Brandon Ubel collected an offensive rebound off a missed free throw and was fouled, while K-State coach Frank Martin was called for a technical. Richardson and sophomore Brandon Ubel hit all four free throws to cut the lead to 48-47, setting up a frantic final five minutes.

The Huskers will now head on the road for a Saturday afternoon matchup at Iowa State. Tipoff from Hilton Coliseum is set for 12:30 p.m., in a game televised by the Big 12 Network.

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