The Longhorns struggled against the vaunted Cornhusker defense from the get-go, with Jordan Hamilton and Cory Joseph hitting just 5-of-15 first-half shots and the Longhorns as a whole hitting just 6-of-19 inside the arc. But they still took a 33-26 lead to the locker room, thanks to J'Covan Brown's 12 first-half points and a 6-10 shooting performance from three-point range.
But the start of the second half belonged to the Cornhuskers, who went on a 12-5 run to tie the game at 38. When Andre Almeida scored on a stick-back with 15:52 left, Nebraska led 40-38, ending a string where Texas hadn't trailed since the first-half of the Oklahoma State game on Jan. 26. The Longhorns went a remarkable 288:12 without trailing.
The Cornhuskers kept rolling, grabbing an eight-point lead at 50-42 before Joseph hit a big three to cut the lead back down to five. Texas trailed by five at 52-47 and had another chance to cut the lead down, but Joseph missed a three and Matt Hill missed a dunk and Eshaunte Jones hit a three of his own to up the lead to eight. That advantage grew to 11 at 60-49 after Jones hit another three-pointer, and the Cornhuskers led 64-53 with less than two minutes to go.
But Texas — aided by a comedy of Nebraska errors — closed the gap quickly. With 1:41 remaining, Hamilton was fouled shooting a three-pointer, and he made all three free throws, slicing the lead to seven. Jorge Brian Diaz missed a pair for the Cornhuskers and Hamilton made a three-pointer. After Toney McCray hit one of two attempts, the Longhorns trailed just 65-59 with 1:29 left, and Hamilton drew another foul.
He made the first, cutting the lead to five, but missed the second. Texas grabbed the rebound and Alexis Wangmene was fouled. Wangmene imitated Hamilton, making the first and hitting the second, with the Longhorns again grabbing the rebound. Gary Johnson hit a jumper, cutting the score to 65-63 with a four-point possession. The Longhorns tied it just two seconds later after stealing the inbounds when Wangmene was fouled again and hit both shots.
Just like that, the score was tied at 65-65, with Texas making an 12-1 run in 31 seconds to get back in the game.
Cornhusker Brandon Richardson, who had earlier missed the front end of a key one-and-one, hit two free throws with 42 seconds left, and Nebraska's Drake Beranek added one of two with 27 seconds left. That put the Cornhuskers up 68-65, just before their final mistake. For the second time in two minutes, Nebraska fouled a Longhorn shooting a three-pointer, this time Brown, who walked to the line with a chance to tie.
But Brown missed the first before making the second. Richardson added two more free throws and a last-ditch three-pointer from Brown went astray.
The Longhorns were battered in the paint by the taller Cornhuskers, getting out-rebounded 39-34 and losing the points-in-the-paint battle 38-14. Nebraska's centers Diaz and Almeida combined to shoot 10-17, grabbed 10 boards and combined for 21 points. Richardson and McCray led Nebraska with 15 and 14, respectively, while going 14-17 from the free-throw line.
Nebraska shot 47 percent from the field for the game, while holding Texas to a dismal 36.4 percent outing. The Longhorns were paced by Brown and Hamilton, who each scored 18. But Hamilton shot just 3-for-16, and Texas didn't get much help from center Tristan Thompson, who was in foul trouble at times. Thompson shot 1-4 from the field, 3-7 from the foul line and finished with five points, four fouls, three rebounds and three turnovers. Joseph added 13 for the Longhorns.
Nebraska (18-8, 6-6) earned a huge win toward the Cornhuskers' tournament prospects. The Cornhuskers hadn't beaten a team ranked in the top-three since Eric Piatkowski led Nebraska past No. 3 Missouri in the 1994 Big Eight Tournament.