Game recap: CLICK HERE
Player of the game: It was a tough decision, but sophomore Tai Webster was my pick. Coming off the bench, Rivers went 6-for-6 from the line and hit a huge three-pointer towards the end of regulation – arguably the biggest shot of his college career.
The moment it was over: Literally the :00 mark in double-overtime. The way Nebraska’s week had went, it wasn’t hard to imagine them falling in an emotional contest like Saturday night with a Cincy tip-in at the end of the game.
LINCOLN, Neb. - Gutty. It’s the only word that comes to mind when talking about Nebraska’s win on Saturday night over Cincinnati in double-overtime.
The Huskers started the week off on the wrong foot, losing to rival Creighton at home on Sunday. The week got a lot worse on Wednesday night, when Nebraska fell to Division I transition team Incarnate Word – likely to be considered one of the biggest upsets in college basketball in 2014-15.
With Cincinnati coming to town, boasting a 6-1 record, it appeared the Huskers could possibly lose three non-conference games in a row – even Doc Sadler squads hadn’t done that.
” It was good to get that monkey off our back,” said forward Shavon Shields. “I think tonight we did great job of bouncing back, staying together and focusing on what we could control and at the end we got the victory.
"I think it showed that we have matured. We found a way to win and found a way to finish the game. Instead of kind of fragmenting like we would last year, we came together and everyone was talking in the huddle and everyone knew what we needed to do.”
What they needed was great defense.
While the offense continued to struggle, albeit Cincinnati is very stout on defense, the Huskers outhustled the Bearcats.
"We asked our guys before the game, we said, "When you're struggling, just play hard. Get back to the basics,” said Miles. “I said ‘Out hustle them. Let's out rebound the’ We were even, practically, on the glass. I thought that our guys really showed a lot of mental toughness tonight in hanging in there. Cincinnati does what Cincinnati does, which makes it a really physical game.”
At 6-3, the non-conference portion of the schedule hasn’t been exactly what Nebraska fans expected. Maybe Saturday’s contest was the game that will spark a run? With eight days off and a destination tournament trip on the horizon, the win on Saturday night was big. It’s also a win that will mighty nice on a resume come March.
"We are going to Hawaii so we have plenty of momentum. Don't worry about it,” said Miles, who will have his team on the floor against the Rainbows in the Diamond Head Classic on December 23.
“The only way to get any confidence is to earn confidence, and I think the only way to do that is come out on top and win. I'm just so thankful for these guys and the effort they put in tonight. Nobody had an ego...The crowd was amazing. You could see the difference in our guys' effort and stance when the crowd got into it. What a great night at Pinnacle Bank Arena."
* While Nebraska only got 9 points off the bench (Webster), they got a lot unexpected points, rebounds, and hustle plays out of guys beyond the big three. Benny Parker had a huge night. Not only did he hit a three late in the second half, he was all over the floor when it came to picking up swatted passes.
* Walter Pitchford might have only went 3-for-10 from the field, but credit him for his season high 10 rebounds. The combination of Pitchford and Rivers, scored 15 points and pulled down 18 boards from down low. "We had to step up. Coach told us that is what we had to do leading up to this game,” said Pitchford. “I think we executed it pretty well. We battled, played our butts off and grinded through it. It was excellent.”
* Yes, the game didn’t start until 8 p.m. Yes, Nebraska volleyball was on the west coast in the NCAA tournament. But, it surprised me how many Husker fans left at the end of regulation. It surprised me even more the amount of fans that left after the first over-time? The game was a sloppy one, both teams were playing pretty solid defense. Most importantly, Nebraska got the win and many fans didn’t get to see it.