Marcus Neal Jr. had one of his most difficult outings in his Husker career during regulation. Numerous turnovers and poor shot selection frustrated Neal and the anxious crowd. Luckily for him, the teams decided to play two more overtime periods and he took over with 13 points. In a moment reminiscent of the Tennessee game, Neal had a chance to win the game as he got fouled shooting a three pointer in the last seconds.
Unfortunately for Husker fans, he couldn't make all three free throws but did manage to tie the game by hitting 2 out of 3. He then saved his best effort possibly all year by taking over when it mattered most. He finished the game with 19 points second only to Wes Wilkinson who had a career high 22 for the Huskers. Those 22 points seemed to come at times when it mattered most, and Wes proved he has the ability to fill the vacant role of Brian Conklin by hitting huge three pointers.
The prospects of a Husker victory looked gloomy as many fans began to anticipate the loss by leaving their seats at the end of regulation. The fans that did stay got to watch a classic battle between two football schools who quite frankly, don't enjoy each other. The crowd of over 8,000 was very lively and one of the rowdier crowds in recent years.
While the game seemed to be in the Huskers' hands with less than a minute left in the first overtime, Nebraska missed 3 of 4 free throws and allowed Kansas St. an easy look at the game tieing three point basket. It appeared that Nebraska might not be meant to win the game after also letting a ten point halftime lead evaporate. Like many games all ready this season, I wondered if we could somehow let this game slip away as well. Wilkinson and Neal wouldn't allow it though.
Wes Wilkinson was obviously a bright spot scoring a career high 22 points. He wins my MVP of the game by a slim margin over Marcus Neal. I loved Neal's resilience, however, and I have to admit if he hadn't played so poorly in regulation, he would be the MVP. Wes really stepped up and for any fans that have followed the team this season, it's clear that Wes is gaining confidence every game. He is a perfect fit for the spread offense because he can play defense inside yet can obviously stroke the three ball.
Some disappointing things were the struggles of Joe McCray. He is going to be a great player at Nebraska and has played unreal for a true freshman up to this point, but he had a rough go at it tonight. He reminds me a lot of Rashard McCants for North Carolina because he seems to force things after a while of no easy shots. I feel like setting up some back screens and designed plays to get him open looks at the start of the game would benefit him and the team. Joe was 4 of 15 for the game and I don't expect to see that the rest of the year. He will play with the big boys in the conference and not back down.
The win is a huge confidence boost for the team and really could help start a streak of winning through the early conference schedule. Nebraska faces off against Colorado on Wednesday at 8 p.m. and looks to improve on their 7-4 record with a conference road win. The game will be televised in Nebraska on FSN Midwest.