Huskers Run Past Tigers in Overtime

Aleks Maric led Nebraska with 31 points and a career-high 19 rebounds as the Huskers snapped a two-game losing streak with an 82-77 overtime victory against Missouri on Saturday at the Devaney Center

Marcus Perry added 13 points, including hitting 9-of-10 at the line, while Charles Richardson Jr. added 12 points and eight assists for the Huskers, who improved to 16-11 on the year and 5-8 in league play. Missouri fell to 17-10 on the season and 6-8 in league action.

The Husker big man posted his second straight 30-plus point performance at home after tallying a career-best 41 points against Kansas State nearly two weeks ago. Maric also recorded his 1,000th career point in the contest, and now has 1,017 points in 84 career games to rank 24th in Nebraska history. He is only the ninth Husker junior to reach the milestone and the first since Cookie Belcher in 1999. Maric also posted the most rebounds by a Husker since 1999 when Kimani Ffriend had 20 against Oral Roberts.

Maric's effort guided Nebraska to its ninth straight home overtime victory. Nebraska's last home overtime loss came in 1996 against Oklahoma. Seven of the overtime wins during the stretch came against Big 12 teams, including twice against Missouri (1998, 2007).

When he topped the 1,000-point plateau, Maric became only the second player in Nebraska history to record at least 1,000 points and 600 rebounds by the end of his junior season. He joined NU's all-time scoring leader Dave Hoppen, who had 1,747 points and 626 rebounds at the end of his third season in a Husker uniform.

Maric's first-half effort was much better in Lincoln than the team's previous contest this season when he had just two points at the intermission in Columbia. Maric finished the first period with 18 points and seven rebounds this time while helping Nebraska to a 41-41 tie at the break. The 41 points were the most by the Huskers in the first period in a Big 12 game this season.

Getting to halftime tied looked like it may be a tall task as the Tigers came out firing on all cylinders.

Missouri started quickly by hitting its first two shots from long range as Stefhon Hannah dropped in a pair of 3-pointers in the first 56 seconds to give MU a 6-0 lead with less than a minute off the clock. Maric ended the run with a layup but the Tigers kept coming as they pushed the lead out to seven, 12-5, less than five minutes into the game.

Maric's second basket and a nifty layup on the baseline drive by Ryan Anderson cut the lead to three but Missouri answered right back with an 8-1 run. The surge culminated with Hannah's third bucket of the day that put Missouri ahead 20-10 with 11:05 left before intermission.  

Richardson then hit the front end of a 1-and-1 that started a 13-4 Husker run to get Nebraska back in the game. The run came at nearly the same time (10:25) and score (20-11) as NU's first-half turning run in Columbia. 

The key play in the stretch Saturday came on the defensive end when Missouri got two second chances on offensive rebounds but was forced into bad shots each time before Richardson saved it in the corner. The Husker captain threw it in to Maric while falling out of bounds and then got the ball back and pushed it hard up the court. The frenzied play ended with a Maric layup that pulled NU back within four, 22-18.

After another MU basket, Paul Velander's 3-pointer cut the deficit to three and following a Mike Smith steal, Chris Balham put back a Richardson miss to cut the lead to one, 24-23. Velander then put the Huskers up, 26-24, for the first time in the game with a trey with 6:48 remaining.  

Richardson added a free throw before the Tigers used four 3-pointers, including two by Keon Lawrence, to pull out to a 36-29 lead. The Huskers' only basket in the 12-2 run was a bucket by Maric at the 4:58 mark, his 1,000th career point.

The back-and-forth tussle continued until the final whistle in the period. Nebraska's Marcus Perry and Jay-R Strowbridge added 3-pointers and Richardson put down another two free throws to help NU to a 41-39 lead heading into the final seconds when Marshall Brown tipped in a Matt Lawrence miss with less than two seconds remaining to send the game into the locker room tied.

After the intermission, Nebraska scored eight of the first nine points to open its largest lead of the game at 49-42. Maric added a pair of free throws -- posting his ninth 20-point game of the season -- and Anderson added back-to-back 3-pointers to force Missouri into a timeout at 16:49. 

Like it had all game, Missouri kept coming back as Kalen Grime's three-point play got the Tigers going again. His basket and free throw cut the lead to four and Matt Lawrence's three free throws with just under 15:00 to play made it a one-point game.

The lead continued to bounce back and forth with Richardson putting NU back on top with a 61-58 lead at the 8:36 mark. Richardson drove the floor, breaking Missouri's continuous pressure and traps and dished off before getting it back and knocking down a wide-open 3-pointer for the three-point cushion.

Leo Lyons and Brown then made several of the key plays down the stretch, helping the Tigers to a 9-2 run over a 4:14 span. Brown's 3-pointer and Lyons' jumper ended the run, lifting MU to a 67-63 advantage with less than four minutes to play.

Perry snapped surge with two free throws and then was fouled while draining his second 3-pointer of the night. Perry knocked down the charity shot for a four-point play to put NU ahead 69-67 with 2:12 remaining, but that was all the Huskers could muster offensively. Hannah tied the game three seconds later on a pair of free throws and the teams combined to miss five shots in the final two minutes, with Hannah's desperation heave at the buzzer hitting the front rim.

The extra session was more of the same as neither team led by more than two until Maric hit the second of a two free throws to push NU's cushion to three points, 78-75.

Following Hannah's jumper with 19 seconds left that pulled MU within one, 78-77, Maric and Strowbridge each knocked down two free throws to seal the win. Strowbridge's charity shots came only after Missouri had launched three 3-point attempts, picking up two offensive boards in the process and making the Huskers work the full five minutes of overtime.

The Huskers return to action for their second straight game at home on Wednesday, Jan. 28, when they take on the Iowa State Cyclones. The game, which will not be televised in Nebraska, will tip off at 7 p.m. at the Devaney Center.

Final box score
 


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