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Nebrasketball: Northwestern outlasts Nebraska in OT 81-76

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Huskers send their seniors out with a loss, and likely blew their last chance at another conference win for the season.

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Nebraska Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

There’s not a whole lot to say at this point. There are two games remaining in the regular season, both are on the road and neither will see the Huskers given a chance by oddsmakers. The Nebraska Cornhuskers were finally favored in this one, sure it was 2.5 points, but they were favored. The Northwestern Wildcats were the bottom of the conference one spot lower than Nebraska. Sure, they had the win over Nebraska in our last meeting, but that one was on the road. The Huskers have had a fight in them throughout most of the losing stretch, and surely they wanted to send their lone (active) senior Haanif Cheatham out with a win?

Alas, it was not to be. Perhaps the most mind-boggling statistic that signifies how frustrating this game was is the fact the Huskers went 8-30 from the free throw line while going 12-32 from three point range. That’s right, the Huskers shot 10.8 percent higher from three point range, on more attempts, than from the charity stripe. So not only does this team hold the distinction for most consecutive losses in a row in school history, now at 14, but they are also the only team since at least the 2010-11 season with a minimum of 30 free throw attempts in a game to shoot worse than 30 percent at the line. If you change it to a minimum of 20 attempts in a game, the Huskers had the fifth-worst percentage in that same 10-year period.

There’s the game right there. If Nebraska could have at least made a pathetic 50 percent of their attempts, they would have won the game in regulation. Let’s not be all doom-and-gloom, though. What were some of the things we can focus on instead of how the 350 out of 353 teams in free throw shooting percentage didn’t blow their last chance at a win and doomed themselves to the 14th seed in the conference tournament a week and a half from now?

I am glad you asked. Despite the 21 turnovers they committed, they managed 16 steals. They also beat out the Wildcats in offensive rebounds 13-9. How did they do on the boards overall? Well, they narrowly lost, but we’re thinking happy thoughts here a the end of our recap. Outgoing senior Cheatham led the team in scoring with 20 points. Yvan Ouedraogo notched a double-double with 11 points and 19 rebounds. The freshman accounted for 44% of the team’s overall rebounds, which is quite impressive. Also impressive is that he tied a Pinnacle Bank Arena single game rebounding record set last season by Maryland’s Bruno Fernando.

There you have it, though, folks. The Huskers are now tied at the bottom of the conference and unlikely to pick up wins on the road over No. 19 Michigan Thursday or at Minnesota to end the season next Sunday. Northwestern owns the tie-breaker over Nebraska now having swept the regular season series and will be the 13 seed, not that it matters in the overall scheme of things much. At least the two NU’s will finish the regular season together at the bottom, instead of Nebraska being there alone. The season will end when Nebraska is eliminated from the conference tournament, and we will start getting excited for the promise that is next season as the roster continues to build out and gain experience in Coach Hoiberg’s system.