Last-Second Shot Leads UAB Past Nebraska

Lincoln --- Senior forward Demario Eddins scored on a layup with only four seconds remaining, and Nebraska freshman guard Jamel White's last-second attempt glanced off the rim as the UAB men's basketball team escaped with a 73-72 road win over Nebraska Saturday at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.

The loss dropped the Huskers to 5-1 this season, while UAB improved to 5-2 with the win.

Senior forward Wes Wilkinson notched another career effort for NU with 17 points and a career-high 16 rebounds as the Huskers dominated the paint, but the Blazers missed only one shot in the game's final five minutes and went 10-of-11 from the free-throw line to claim the win.Nebraska posted a 39-28 rebounding edge for the game, but 19 turnovers that led to 18 Blazer points helped seal NU's fate. 

With the score tied, 69-69, and only 1:41 remaining, senior forward Jason Dourisseau forced a Blazer turnover with a steal and was fouled before draining 1-of-2 free throws to give the Huskers a one-point lead. 

Senior forward Brandon Tabais hit a baseline jumper to give the Blazers a one-point lead, 71-70, while Dourisseau countered with two more clutch free throws to put Nebraska back on top by one. UAB went back on top for good the following possession on Eddins' layup with the shot clock winding down. Nebraska moved the ball to midcourt before a timeout and got a pass in but the ball went out of bounds with 1.0 second remaining to set up White's final shot.

Dourisseau scored a team-high 18 points for NU, while freshman point guard Marcus Walker added a career-high 12. Senior guard Marvett McDonald led the Blazers with a personal-best 22 points on 9-for-16 shooting, while junior guard Wen Mukuba and Eddins pitched in respective totals of 15 and 13 points.

Trailing 41-35 at the start of the second half, UAB came out firing with an 11-0 run to take a five-point lead. McDonald nailed 3-pointers on three successive possessions during the stretch to fuel the Blazers. NU was held scoreless for the first 4:09 of the half before sophomore center Aleks Maric finally ended the run by hitting two free throws.

Facing a 49-50 deficit with 10:20 remaining, Nebraska rattled off a 7-0 run. One possession after junior forward B.J. Walker had given NU a one-point lead on a jumper, Wilkinson put back a Walker jumper to extend the lead to three. Wilkinson then added another basket for a five-point lead, and he would later drain two treys to make the score 65-60.

The Blazers tied the game at 69-69 with just under three minutes remaining on a 3-pointer by Mukubu.

UAB began the game strong, racing to a 10-2 lead in the game's first three minutes, but NU answered with a 13-2 run of its own by holding UAB scoreless for the next three minutes.

Following a layup by Marcus Walker, Wilkinson nailed Nebraska's first 3-pointer of the game. After a transition dunk by Eddins, the Huskers gained the lead on a pair of jumpers by Maric and Wilkinson and two free throws by Dourisseau. White added a transition layup off a turnover to give the Huskers a 15-12 lead.

Aiding Nebraska's cause in the first half was a 24-13 Husker edge in rebounding. Wilkinson single-handedly controlled the paint with 12 first-half boards, while he reached the double-digit mark for the first time in his career only eight minutes into the game.

The Blazers struck back to take a 20-17 edge at the midway mark of the first half. After the two teams traded baskets, junior point guard Charles Richardson Jr. evened the score with his first trey of the season at the 8:12 mark, but senior guard Derrick Broom countered with a 3-pointer of his own on the next possession to help UAB regain a three-point lead. A backside layup by Dourisseau and a pair of Marcus Walker free throws put the Huskers back on top, 26-25.

Dourisseau brought the Devaney Center crowd to its feet with the clock winding down in the first half. After Mukuba banked in a 3-pointer for the Blazers with only seven seconds remaining, Dourisseau countered by banking in a buzzer-beater from half court to send the Huskers into the locker room with a six-point advantage.

Nebraska will return to the Devaney Center court Wednesday, when it plays host to South Dakota State at 7 p.m.


Nebraska Postgame Notes

• Senior forward Wes Wilkinson tied his career high with nine rebounds midway through of the first half and finished with a career best 16 rebounds, including five on the offensive end.

• Wilkinson recorded a double-double with 17 points and 16 rebounds, his first career double-double. It is the fourth double-double by a Husker this season, as sophomore center Aleks Maric already had three double-doubles coming into the game. Last year, Maric recorded a double-double with 10 points and a career-high 15 rebounds in Birmingham.

• Senior guard Jason Dourisseau's 30-footer as time expired at the end of the first half was his first 3-point attempt of the season. Dourisseau's shot gave the Husker sat 41-35 lead heading into intermission. Nebraska has led at the break in every game this season.

• Freshman guard Marcus Walker scored a career high 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting. Walker had eight points with more than four minutes remaining in the first half to match his previous best.

• UAB's 11-0 run to open the second half, including three 3-pointers by Marvett McDonald in the first 2:33 after the break, was the longest run of the season by a Husker opponent without NU scoring. McDonald's 22 points were a career high and were the second most by a Husker opponent this season.

Nebraska Coach Barry Collier quotes
Opening statement
"I thought UAB gave us a lot of trouble with their ability to penetrate the middle.  At the same time, they were able to hit their perimeter shots and to keep us guessing.  But I thought our ultimate demise was on defense.  The number of fouls we made and their ability to make their free throws really made a difference.  It was a competitive game and credit goes to UAB.  They did a great job."

On UAB's quick style of play
"There was a lot of scrambling throughout the game.  They make you make decisions.  I thought we did a pretty good job of handling it though.  We made maybe four or five errors that you have to credit UAB for, but they were also our fault with going over and back and dribbling out of bounds."

On the team's progress
"We've done some good things.  We're a long way from feeling like we're playing well though.  We're not as fluid and consistent across the board as we'd like.  I'm especially unimpressed with our defense tonight.  We've been able to keep other teams from scoring so far this season and that didn't come through tonight."

On Nebraska's rebounding domination
"This is the one area that we really hope to take to our advantage.  Wes (Wilkinson) and Aleks (Maric) in particular were very active off the board.  UAB was so scrambled tonight that there was always a pretty good chance we could get the board."

On Nebraska's final possession
"Our strategy was that if they all sagged in on the basket then that would leave the perimeter open and we could have a shot from there.  We hadn't had the greatest option from the 3-point line today, no one was really hitting consistently from there.  But Jamel (White) got a good look and Bronsen (Schliep) made the right decision in getting it to him."


Nebraska player quotes
Forward Wes Wilkinson
On his game and, in particular, his rebounding
"That was one thing that we emphasized. They hadn't done a real good job of controlling the boards. We tried to crash the offensive and defensive boards and take advantage of that. I was getting a lot of rebounds, but there were rebounds to be had. I just tried to get after it and get some rebounds. I feel a lot more comfortable down low physically this season."

On the difference in the game
"It came down to taking care of the ball and knocking down big shots and they did that."

On the loss
"This is a hard one to swallow. I thought we played hard. You have to give it to UAB, they played a great game. They took us out of our game a little bit and against a team like that, you have to play your game."

Guard Jason Dourisseau
On UAB's game-winning shot
"It looked like they ran something like a weave play and we tried to switch everything. (Demario) Eddins got free a little bit and made a great play. He's a good player. I kind of got out of position on the switch. We guarded it pretty well, but he made a tough shot. We didn't help as much as we should have. He made the play and they won."

On the loss
"I think we fought pretty hard today. The young guys stepped up, especially Marcus Walker, he hit some big shots in the first half. Wes (Wilkinson) was an animal down low with (16) rebounds and Aleks (Maric) was big for us and B.J. Walker made some great passes and played well. The effort was there but we didn't get the win so I can't stand up here and say that I'm happy because we didn't win and we could have played better and won. I knew if we came out and played hard, which we did, we would have a great chance. We wanted the win and we didn't get it today."

On Wes Wilkinson's play
"He was an animal in there today. He played really well and has been playing really well and that's going to continue. We are going to need him if we are going to accomplish our goals."

UAB Coach Mike Anderson quotes
On the difference in the game:

"We made free throws going down the stretch, but more importantly we made plays I think more than anything else. We beat a good Nebraska basketball team on the road. We are very fortunate. My hat's off to (Nebraska coach) Barry Collier and his team. They played extremely well, and they were making shots from everywhere in the first half and just dominating the boards. In the second half, we got the tempo going the way we wanted to. You saw us come out with a little more aggressiveness, pressure defense and creating some turnovers. We had some huge layups, and we were able to get to the free-throw line doing that. That kind of neutralized the rebounding stat."

On early runs to start both halves:

"The knock coming in was on our defense, and I thought our defense was a big difference in this game. We have been giving up 52 percent from the field for our opponents, 40-some percent from 3-point land, and to come in this game I'm really proud of our guys. We were able to create some turnovers—some key, key turnovers—and make some big stops more than anything else. We made stops when we had to, and boy we made some big shots. (Brandon) Tobias hit a big shot to tie it for us, and then our senior (Demario) Eddins made a big basket to win."

On senior forward Brandon Tobias:

"He showed us what he's capable of doing, and that's the way we have to do it. We're not a big, strong and powerful team, so we have to do it in different ways. Different guys have to step up for us. Our bench was huge for us today.

"In the second half, I thought Brandon was a big difference with his physicalness. When you get those guys to come out and play that way, all it does is helps those stars. Some times you put so much pressure on those guys, and they have to perform. When the bench comes in, it makes that a little easier. I said we had about 10 starters, and we proved it today."

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