Despite giving up 10-0 run to start the second half, the Huskers kept their compsure in one of the toughest arenas in the nation and had the final shot to win but came up just short, letting No. 2 Kansas hold on for a 59-57 victory Wednesday at Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas missed 4-of-6 free throws in the final two minutes
before Joe McCray's layup with 25 seconds remaining pulled Nebraska within one
point, 58-57. Aaron Miles' free throw then made it a two-point KU advantage and
set up the Huskers' final play.
Following a NU
timeout, Marcus Neal Jr. tried to work the ball around the top of the key, but
the Jayhawks' pressure slowed the play. Corey Simms ended up with the ball
with less than four seconds remaining and sidestepped a Jayhawk before putting
up a long-range attempt for the win that hit off the right side of the rim. KU's
Alex Galindo pulled down the rebound as time expired.
Nebraska (8-6, 2-2
Big 12) got into contention to shoot for the win behind the play of freshman Joe
McCray and junior Wes Wilkinson. McCray stepped up big with 10 points in the
second half and finished with a game-high 19 points while Wilkinson added 16 in
his third start of the year.
The Huskers led
24-21 at the intermission, but Kansas began the second half with a 14-2 run,
including 12 straight points to open the frame. Wayne Simien, who was held
without a point or rebound in the first period, scored seven points in the surge
while Keith Langford, who had just one point in the opening stanza, added a pair
of baskets to give KU (14-0, 4-0 Big 12) a 35-26 lead with 12:23 to play.
Nebraska cut into the
lead with three-pointers from Wilkinson and Neal. After a pair of Miles free
throws put Kansas ahead 40-32, freshman Aleks Maric started a 9-2 Nebraska run with a bucket in the paint. NU
pulled within one, 42-41, on Maric's basket with 9:19 to play.
Trailing 49-44 with
5:25 to left, McCray came up big with eight straight points. McCray hit a pair
of foul shots and then drained two of three charity shots after being fouled
outside the arc. After adding one more free throw to cut the lead to seven,
55-48, at the 4:10 mark, McCray drained his third trey of the game to make it
55-51 with 3:08 left.
McCray hit 3-of-7
three-point attempts on the game, with the final made trey tying the Nebraska freshman record.
McCray, who leads the Big 12 with 3.1 three-pointers per game, picked up his
44th triple of the season to tie the mark set by Eric Piatkowski in 1991.
Nebraska opened the game
on a 6-0 run behind a pair of baskets from John Turek and a jumper from
Wilkinson. Kansas came right back with a 14-2 run over a six-minute span before
McCray scored six straight to knot it at 14-all. Wilkinson gave Nebraska its biggest lead
off the game at five points, 23-18, with a three-pointer at the 2:33 mark.
A native of
Grand Island, Neb., Wilkinson finished with 16 points and
five boards while Turek had five points and four boards. Maric led the Huskers
with eight rebounds and McCray had seven boards as Nebraska earned an
advantage on the glass for the 12th time in 14 contests, including all four Big
The Huskers hit just
31.6 percent, including 29.2 percent from the line, but hit 14-of-21 (66.7
percent) from the charity stripe while KU connected on just 13-of-28 (46.4
percent) of its free throws.
Nebraska held the
Jayhawks to 42.0 percent from the floor and 23.5 percent from three-point range.
Simien led the way with 12 points, all in the second frame, while Langford and
J.R. Giddens had nine points.
The Huskers return
to action in their second straight conference road game when they travel to
Columbia, Mo., to take on the Missouri Tigers on
Saturday, Jan. 22. The game will tip off at 12:30 p.m. and can be heard on the
Pinnacle Sports Network and Huskers.com. It will also be televised as part of
the Big 12 package on ESPN+ (check local listings).