Sometimes, it is as simple as one team was better than the other. That was the case Tuesday as the Huskers (11-11, 2-7) were overwhelmed by Minnesota (16-5, 4-4) team with superior athleticism, skill and just simply made more plays. The Gophers were coming off a four game stretch where they faced two top five teams in Indiana and Michigan followed by back to back road trips to Northwestern and Wisconsin. The Northwestern loss is particularly egregious, but there's no shame in the other losses. Lots of teams would lose three of those games. That made this game particularly important for Minnesota, and they played like it.
From the opening tip, Minnesota's athleticism gave the Huskers fits with a constant full court pressure and attacking of the offensive glass. The Huskers turned the ball over nine times in the first half, converting that into 13 points. Of the Gophers first nine field goals, eight were either dunks, layups or put-backs. Minnesota saw Rodney Williams have a big game, pouring in 23 points, including five dunks, after struggling the past two games.
The Huskers, by all rights should have been down 20 points at halftime if not for some hot shooting by Ray Gallegos. Gallegos hot hand poured in 20 first half points, keeping NU within striking distance of Minnesota, only down nine, 44-35, at the break. Gallegos finished with a career high 30 points on 12-17 shooting from the field.
After the half, Nebraska tried to stay in the game, but could never get closer than eight as the Gophers gradually wore down NU, stretching their lead to as many as 22 points.
The Huskers also saw the return of an effective Shavon Shields who had ten points and three assists. Brandon Ubel also scored 13 before fouling out. Things don't get much easier for the Huskers as they next face the #11 Ohio State Buckeyes at home Saturday evening.