Knoxville, Tenn. --- Marcus Neal Jr. hit three free throws with 1.2 seconds remaining to ice Nebraska's 62-61 come-from-behind road victory over Tennessee Thursday at Thomspon-Boling Arena.
Neal helped Nebraska improve to 5-4 on the season with 17 points and career highs with four three-pointers and six assists. It was NU's first road victory in three attempts this year, as NU improved to 3-4 in its last seven non-conference road games dating back to last season.
"I am really proud of our guys and the way they fought to the end," said NU coach Barry Collier. "We didn't shoot that well and did not make free throws as well as we should have, but we did just enough. I did think our defense was good, but we were lucky to get to the line at the end. We have been on the other end of that before, so it's good to be on this end."
After a 10-0 run put Tennessee
Scooter McFadgon missed three free throws in the final 22 ticks and finished the game 2-of-6 at the line despite entering the contest hitting 45-of-50 free throw attempts on the year, including a school-record 31 straight at one point. McFadgon's last two misses came with 9.8 seconds left, giving the Cornhuskers time to work for a final shot.
With time running out, Neal brought the ball across midcourt when the ball was knocked loose. John Turek tipped the ball to Neal, who grabbed it and was fouled by C.J. Watson while attempting a three-pointer. Neal hit the first two and drained the game-winner after a Vol timeout.
The Huskers' nine treys tied a season high as Nebraska hit 39.1 percent from beyond the arc. NU hit 38.2 percent from the floor overall, while UT hit 45.3 percent. The Vols hit 7-of-17 from long range (41.2 percent) but connected on just 35.3 percent (6-of-17) from the charity stripe.
"I was happy with almost all of our shots in the second half, but we had too many that were point blank that we did not finish," Collier said. "Tennessee came out and got in its fast break offense on a few baskets and you have to give them credit. But I thought our guys attacked and played hard on defense and made some tough shots too."
Brandon Crump led Tennessee with 19 points, including 15 after the intermission, while McFadgon had 15 and and Watson added 11 points. Chris Lofton and Andre Patterson each added a game-high eight boards, although the Huskers took a 41-35 advantage on the glass. It was the seventh time in nine games -- and first time on the road -- the Huskers earned a edge in rebounds.
Neither team led by more than six points in the first half. Nebraska used an 8-0 run, capped by Muhleisen's 3-pointer with 4:58 left in the half, for a 24-18 lead - the biggest lead for either team in the opening frame. The Cornhuskers led 31-26 at halftime.
Nebraska makes a quick turnaround as it returns to action on Sunday, Jan. 2, against Montana State at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. The Huskers and Bobcats tip off at 1:05 p.m. and the game can be heard on the Pinnacle Sports Network and Huskers.com. The game will also be shown in Nebraska on FSN Midwest and on DirecTV and Dish Network.
Nebraska postgame notes
** The Huskers improved to 5-4 on the season with their first road win of the year. NU is now 1-2 on the road this season and owns a 3-4 road record against non-conference teams dating back to last season. The Huskers are 2-0 against Tennessee in the series.
** The win was the first for the Huskers on the road against a Southeastern Conference (SEC) team since 1975 when NU defeated Vanderbilt 68-57 in Nashville, Tenn., on Dec. 22, 1975.
** Marcus Neal Jr. tied h is career high with four three-pointers and six assists. He had just one turnover and has 18 assists against just five turnovers in the past three games combined.
** Jake Muhleisen recorded three three-pointers on the night after having made just two in the Huskers' first eight contests. Muhleisen had a season-high 11 points.
** Wes Wilkinson grabbed a season-high seven rebounds, one off his career best, and notched a season-high three blocked shots. He has seven blocks in two games against Tennessee, after recording a career-best four blocks against the Vols last season in Lincoln.
** Nebraska hit a season-high tying nine three-pointers in the contest, equalling the mark it set against North Carolina A&T two games ago.
** The Huskers outrebounded their opponent for the seventh time in eight games by earning a 41-35 edge on the glass.