Northwestern appeared to be in cruise control late in the second half, leading by 12 points with less than four minutes remaining. Brandon Ubel's aggressive layup sparked the Huskers on an 11-2 run, and made it a three-point NU lead.
John Shurna helped the Wildcats gain some breathing room with a layup at the 1:13 mark. NU secured its victory with free throws.
Northwestern closed out the first half on a 17-3 run, thanks to 15 points from Shurna, Crawford, and Sobolewski. The Wildcats took a 15-point lead at the halftime break.
Coming out of the locker room, Northwestern went ice cold, while Nebraska caught fire. The Cornhuskers road a 12-1 run out of the break, then stayed hot, hitting eight of nine shots, including five from beyond the arc. The Wildcats' lead would fade to a three-point margin.
The Wildcats would answer with a run of their own, and opened up a double-digit lead. Nebraska's late comeback effort quickly answered by Northwestern, thanks to clutch shooting, or weak defense, as Doc Sadler views it.
"You can't make mistakes like that against a good-shooting basketball team," said Sadler.
Northwestern wasn't surprised by Nebraska's come-from-behind efforts. NU head coach Bill Carmody had spent plenty of time studying how the Huskers operate. His team was able to stop each run.
"We knew they were coming back because they do that," said Carmody. "They're well-coached and they execute."
Carmody's squad was shorthanded again, this time, playing with just utilizing six players. Davide Curletti was the only Wildcat to come off the bench for action. Each player saw at least 28 minutes of action, with John Shurna playing the entire game.
Carmody credited the lengthy ESPN television timeouts for keeping his team fresh. Freshman point guard David Sobolewski believes the Wildcats have the stamina to last 40 minutes.
"We're used to playing these whole games, everyone on this team has played a full game in high school," said Sobolewski. "The practices are starting to get shorter. I don't think there's any fatigue."
Shurna, the Wildcats' ironman on Thursday, led all scorers with 28 points on 9-of-13 from the field. He made an impact playing center, posting five rebounds and two imposing blocks. Nebraska head coach Doc Sadler sees Northwestern as a dangerous team with Shurna playing center.
"I think they're small lineup is their best lineup," Sadler said. "When they went with their small lineup, it concerned me."
Northwestern looks to start a winning streak on Sunday, when it travels to Champaign for a meeting with rival Illinois. Tipoff at Assembly Hall is set for 2:00. Drew Crawford is wishing that was sooner.
"We're just hungry, we're excited for Sunday," said Crawford. "We're just ready to go back on the court for practice tomorrow and go get a win on Sunday."