Huskers come up just short at No. 24 Cincy

Behind 21 points from junior guard Tai Webster, Nebraska gave No. 24 Cincinnati everything they could handle, but fell 65-61.


New York City – Behind a career-high 21 points from Tai Webster, Nebraska took No. 24 Cincinnati to the limit before falling, 65-62 at the Barclays Center Classic Friday night. 

Webster, was spectacular in defeat, hitting 7-of-12 from the field and adding eight rebounds, as Nebraska (4-2) was in position to upset the Bearcats until the final minutes. The effort was more impressive considering that Webster was under the weather most of Friday and missed the team’s shootaround earlier in the day.

Troy Caupain led three Bearcats in double figures for Cincinnati (6-0) with 17 points while Shaq Thomas and Octavious Ellis added 14 and 12 points, respectively.

Ellis was key down the stretch, scoring 10 of his 12 points in a 10-0 spurt after Nebraska took a 49-47 lead after three Webster free throws with 7:23 remaining. Nebraska battled back, cutting the deficit to 59-54 after a pair of Webster free throws with 1:02 left.

NU, which was forced to foul, kept getting closer, as UC went 5-of-8 from the line in the final minute. NU got a 3-pointer from Glynn Watson Jr. and two baskets from Webster to pull within 64-61 with nine seconds left. NU fouled Kevin Johnson with seven seconds left, and he split the pair and NU was unable to get closer.

The Huskers hung tough despite Shavon Shields playing only 20 minutes because of foul trouble. Shields scored 11 of 14 points in the second half before fouling out with 1:29 left.

Webster keyed Nebraska’s first half performance with 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting, as the Huskers and Bearcats were deadlocked at 25 at the break. Nebraska held Cincinnati to 33 percent shooting and played well despite Shields playing just four minutes in the half because of foul trouble.

Nebraska fell behind 7-2 early before Webster keyed an early 9-0 spurt, scoring seven straight points and assisting on the other basket to stake NU a 11-7 lead.

Cincinnati fought back and took a 14-13 lead after a basket by Quadri Moore, but Nebraska answered with a 7-0 spurt, capped by Jack McVeigh’s 3-pointer with 7:59 left in the half. McVeigh’s second 3-pointer of the game pushed the lead back to 22-18 with 4:27 left in the half.

Nebraska, which was 4-of-7 from beyond the arc, regained the lead at 25-22 on Webster’s second 3-pointer of the day with 1:30 left in the half, but Kevin Johnson’s 3-pointer with 22 seconds remaining sent the teams to the locker room tied at 25.

In the second half, Nebraska lead 32-30 after a 3-pointer from Andrew White III with 17:47 left, but the Bearcats answered with six straight point, stretching their lead to 36-32 after a 3-pointer from Shaq Thomas. Jake Hammond’s 3-point play ended the run and helped to steady the Huskers. Trailing 40-37, Shields hit a baseline jumper before his slam off a steal from Glynn Watson put the Huskers up by one.

Cincinnati would extend its lead to 47-43 after two free throws from Gary Clark before NU would run off six straight points, getting a 3-point play from Shields and three free throws from Webster to take a 49-47 lead with 7:23 left.

The Huskers will continue tournament play Saturday morning, as they will take on the loser of tonight’s second game between Tennessee and George Washington at 11 a.m. (CT). The game will be carried on the IMG Husker Sports Network, as there is no TV or video coverage tomorrow.

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