MBB: Nebraska 64, Kansas State 66

Akeem Wright blocked Jamel White's game-winning attempt at the buzzer, as Nebraska nearly pulled out an improbable comeback before falling, 66-64, to Kansas State Wednesday evening at the Devaney Center.

Trailing 65-58 with 11 seconds left, Marcus Walker hit a 3-pointer with 7.0 seconds remaining to pull the Huskers within four points. White then stole the subsequent in-bounds pass and drained another 3-pointer to make it 65-64 with four seconds remaining. 

KSU's Cartier Martin then split a pair of free throws with 2.2 seconds remaining, giving the Huskers a final opportunity for the win. Wes Wilkinson threw a strike to White 25 feet from the basket, but White's three-point attempt was blocked by Wright, allowing Kansas State (15-11, 6-9 Big 12) to escape with a two-point win.

Aleks Maric led three Huskers (17-11, 7-8 Big 12) in double figures, as he posted his 10th double-double of the year with 16 points and 12 rebounds off the bench. Marcic, who hit 10-of-14 shots from the foul line, had 12 points in the second half, as Nebraska nearly rallied from a 10-point deficit.

Senior Wes Wilkinson matched Maric for game-high honors with 16 points, while adding six boards and three blocks. Jason Dourisseau joined the two Huskers in double figures with 14 points, including 13 points in the second half, and eight rebounds before fouling out with 1:10 remaining. 

Maric and Dourisseau combined for 25 of Nebraska's first 31 points in the second half, as the Huskers stayed within four points of KSU for nearly the entire final 10 minutes.

Martin tied Wilkinson for game-high honors with 16 points, while David Hoskins finished with 14 points, including 10 in the first half, as KSU shot 56 percent and took a 33-27 lead into the locker room.

The team traded the lead for most of the first half, until Lance Harris came off the bench to spark a 7-0 Kansas State run. Harris capped the spurt with five straight points, as his 3-pointer at the 3:01 mark gave the visitors a 27-20 lead.

KSU built the lead to as many as nine points on two occasions, taking a 33-24 lead after a David Hoskins' basket with 50.9 seconds left in the half. Wilkinson answered right back for NU, hitting a 3-pointer to pull the Huskers within 33-27 at the break. Kansas State, which shot just 23 percent in the first meeting in January, hit on 56 percent of its shots in the first half, while Nebraska shot just 35 percent, including 2-for-9 from beyond the arc.

Dourisseau got the Huskers off to a good start to open the second half, hitting two straight baskets to pull NU within 33-31 with 19:20 left.  The Huskers then went three minutes without a point, as the Wildcats ran off eight unanswered points to take its largest lead of the game at 41-31 at the 16:31 mark after a Deilvez Yearby free throw.

Nebraska's seniors answered the challenge, as Dourisseau and Wilkinson combined for eight points during a 10-2 Husker spurt that pulled NU within 43-41 on a Dourisseau 3-pointer from the corner with 13:57 left. Maric later got the Huskers within 44-43, but two straight baskets by Martin pushed the Wildcat advantage to 48-43.

Nebraska trailed 54-48 before Maric led the Husker comeback, as the 6-foot-11 sophomore found his way inside KSU's defense, making a trio of foul shots in a 5-1 run to close within 55-53 with 4:19 remaining. The Huskers eventually pulled to within 60-57 on a Wilkinson basket with 59 seconds left, but Cartier's putback of a Wright miss and two free throws stretched the margin to six points with 20 seconds remaining. After a Wilkinson miss, Yearby split a pair of free throws, giving KSU a seemingly comfortable seven-point lead before NU's dramatic comeback.

The Huskers close out the regular season on Sunday, March 5, when they travel to Missouri for a 1 p.m. tipoff. The game will be carried on the Pinnacle Sports Network and shown on ESPN Regional (Ch. 8 in Lincoln).

Nebraska Postgame Notes

• Nebraska dropped its second straight game and fell to 17-11 on the year and 7-8 in Big 12 Conference play.

• With one game remaining in the regular season, the Huskers can still tie for fifth in the league standings but can not place lower than sixth in the final standings, giving them their highest finish in Big 12 play since 1999 when they tied for fifth.

• Nebraska can still be the No. 5 seed with a win Sunday at Missouri and a Colorado loss at home to Iowa State on Saturday. A loss by the Huskers would mean at best a No. 6 seed, and depending on the outcome of games for Texas Tech, Iowa State and Kansas State, could finish as low as the No. 9 seed.

• As part of the Senior Night celebration, all four seniors on the roster started, including Jason Dourisseau, Wes Wilkinson, Bronsen Schliep and Tony Wilbrand. For Schliep, it was his fifth career start while Wilbrand made his first-ever appearance in the starting lineup.

• Wes Wilkinson finished the game with 16 points and three blocked shots, his third straight game with at least three blocks. Wilkinson now has 55 blocked shots to place 11th on the Nebraska single-season blocks chart. He needs one block to tie Venson Hamilton for 10th place, as Hamilton had 56 in 1997.

• Jason Dourisseau finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, hitting 5-of-9 from the floor. He also added two assists, one block and two steals in 33 minutes before fouling out late in the second half. It was only the third time this season he fouled out of a game but the second time against Kansas State.

• Aleks Maric recorded his team-best 10th double-double of the year with 16 points and 12 rebounds. The total is tied for second in the league this season and ties him for the most double-doubles by a Nebraska sophomore in at least 30 years. The last sophomore to record double-figure double-doubles was Venson Hamilton in 1997 while Carl McPipe also had 10 double-doubles as a sophomore for the Huskers in 1977.

• Maric's 16 points were his second-highest total in Big 12 Conference play behind his 37-point effort at Iowa State. It was the most points he has scored in a conference game at home in his career.

Nebraska Coach Barry Collier quotes
Opening statement:
"I thought that Kansas State executed better than we could defend them, and they shot the ball (well), especially in the first half. They made some big baskets late in the second half, and at the same time they defended our perimeter guys very well. Outside of Aleks (Maric) we just couldn't get into a rhythm offensively."

On whether senior night had a negative impact on his team:
"No, I don't think so. In the first half there were lots of different groups in there, and none of them could really get established defensively. I think our guys played hard. They tried to execute the game plan. We just didn't have a good enough defensive first half to get some confidence there. We had some pretty big holes to dig out of. (An 11-point deficit is) a long way to come back from at home against a team that already has some confidence."

On the differences in Kansas State from the last matchup:
"They ran some motion and their flex offense, and they executed it. I thought we did a decent job on (Cartier) Martin, but (Akeem) Wright was tough. Four of those five starters shot (near) 50 percent or better, and we just weren't able to get them under control in the first half. We out-rebounded them and had a few more possessions than them, but only had 27 (points) to show (in the first half). We had some decent looks that didn't go on the perimeter."

"I do credit Kansas State. They played just like they have of late. I talked to them before the game, and they've been playing really well of late. They've been a basket short, but they have not stopped playing. They were in another close game and they were able to pull this one out."

On suffering a loss on senior night:
"I think it's very tough for (the seniors). I did think Jason (Dourisseau) did have a pretty good game for us. He attacked and played under control. He did turn the ball over a bit, but he gave us a second scoring option. We just didn't have enough to go on the outside with him and Aleks."

Sophomore center Aleks Maric
On what went wrong
"Kansas State made plays when they needed to.  They made big shots.  When we would go on any kind of a run, they would creep back and we just couldn't handle that."

On Kansas State's pressure
"I think they really picked up their pressure a lot.  They did a very good job watching the film.  They changed things up with the press and went full court and then they'd go half court.  They'd just keep changing the defense to confuse us."

On sending our the seniors with a loss
"It's tough.  I've been here for two years and these guys are like brothers to me.  It's hard to send them out on a loss.  But I told them after the game that I love them all and that we still have one game left and we just have to do the best we can with that."

On if Nebraska was out of rhythm early
"I don't think there was one clear thing wrong.  We tried to do some different things on offense and defense, bring the ball inside and then outside and we just couldn't find a clear answer.  During the second half we started to chip away and find stuff that worked, but we couldn't take them out of their game."

Senior Forward Wes Wilkinson
On the loss
"It's rough.  We really wanted to win tonight.  We expected to win tonight, but they were the better team for 40 minutes."

On the effects of Senior Night
"There was a lot of emotion at the beginning.  But after a few minutes, you just brush it off and get into the game.  You get on the court and play basketball and nothing else is on your mind."

On Kansas State's play
"They added more pressure and caused more turnovers.  We were trying to get the ball down to Aleks (Maric) because he was drawing fouls left and right, but the pressure up top made it hard to do that."

Kansas State Head Coach Jim Wooldridge
On the end of the game
"There was a lot of concern, but it was a really good win. We have had a lot of those kind of games but I thought we played good basketball. We stayed under control, played good defense and didn't get rattled. We had good poise offensively and played good team basketball."

On the last play
"It was a big play. It was a huge play. A year ago, we lost at the same spot, exact same spot on the floor. It was a big play in my mind. That was when the game was over."

On Nebraska's defense and second half runs
"They played a little junk defense, but our guys had good poise offensively. We didn't get rattled and try to do things we couldn't do. This stretch now is the best we have played as a team all year."

Akeem Wright
On the end of the game
"I saw the way they set up. I actually had a chance to steal it but I didn't want to get a foul. It knew it would be tough for them to get a shot off, and I just put my arm up and blocked it."

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