One of the most outstanding individual scoring performances in Nebraska Cornhuskers’ basketball history was not enough to overcome a hefty rebounding disadvantage, another rash of turnovers, and a flurry of 3-pointers as Penn State (8-12 overall, 5-12 B1G) defeated Nebraska (5-16, 1-13) 86-83 at Pinnacle Bank Arena Tuesday night.
Despite playing on the losing side, junior guard Teddy Allen played the game of his college career, setting multiple school records in the process:
- 41 points, tying Aleks Maric for the most ever for a Husker in the regular season, just a point short of Eric Piatkowski’s school record 42 in a 1994 Big 8 tournament win over Oklahoma.
- 28 first half points, a school record for points in one half, besting James Palmer’s 27 against Rutgers in the 2019 Big Ten tournament.
- 16 made field goals, a school record, on 24 shots from the field.
- Eight rebounds, one off his personal best of nine against Creighton, and his career-high six assists led all players in the game.
- In shooting 6-9 from 3-point range, he set season-highs for made threes and 3-point percentage at 66.7%.
Despite Allen’s heroics, the Huskers came up just short of their second conference victory this season. Fellow junior Trey McGowens, who played Robin to Allen’s Batman with 17 points of his own, had a chance to tie it up with five seconds left. Allen drew a double team at the top of the key, then passed off to a streaking McGowens who had an open look at a three from the right wing. It clanked off the rim, and the Nittany Lions secured the rebound and the win, their first on the road this season.
Myreon Jones led Penn State with a career-high 29 points, hitting 6-12 from deep and 7-8 from the foul line, including 5-6 in the final minute. He led five Nittany Lions in double figures – each of their starters – and kept pace with Allen in the second half, scoring 12 to Allen’s 13 after the break.
PSU darted out to an 8-0 lead on a pair of Jones triples. An almost four-minute stretch early on featured only Allen and Jones scoring. Jones three, Allen three, Jones another three, Allen a three and a lay-up. It was 11-8 at the first media timeout, and they had scored all but two of the game’s points.
Then Teddy Buckets showed ‘em how he got his nickname.
Another lay-up, another three to tie it at 17. A mid-range jumper for good measure. NU took their first lead at 22-19 on a Kobe Webster 3-pointer with 11:32 remaining before halftime. After a 3:27 dry spell, Teddy got a fast break dunk, dropped off a dime to Derrick Walker, and the Huskers still led 26-24. Allen then scored the last nine NU points of the half, including his only three free throws of the contest, to make it 39-38 Penn State at halftime.
The critical stretch came early in the second half. McGowens hit one of two free throws to give NU a 48-47 lead with 14:57 to go. Penn State proceeded to score on their next four possessions, including three 3-pointers, and forced two Husker turnovers over 2:20. The 11-0 run gave them a 58-48 lead, their largest of the game.
But Teddy Allen kept coming. Five straight points cut that lead in half. Another three for McGowens, then Teddy from deep again. Derrick Walker underneath on one of Allen’s six assists. All the while, Penn State kept answering. Forward John Harrar scored all ten of his points in the second half, including 6-8 at the line, and grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds. In fact, Harrar’s eight offensive rebounds would have still tied Teddy Allen for most by any player.
The Nittany Lions made their hay on the glass, winning the battle of the boards 42-29, and 16-2 in offensive rebounds. That earned them 14 more shots than Nebraska, and they capitalized with 16 second chance points. Couple that with their 14-37 3-point shooting, and it was an overall defensive letdown even Teddy Allen couldn’t overcome.
At the 9:49 mark, Allen knocked down his last 3-pointer of the game, giving him 39 points and drawing NU to within three at 62-59. He wouldn’t score again until the last minute, but he was still contributing to the offense. Three assists were dished out in that final stretch, as McGowens, Walker, and reserve senior Thor Thorbjarnarson kept the Huskers in striking distance.
PSU’s lead was consistent, but also consistently shrinking towards the final whistle. No larger than eight points with 10:58 to go. A six-point lead at 70-64 at the 7:01 mark. A brief tie at 70-70 after Thor and McGowens threes with 6:20 left. Nebraska couldn’t grab the lead back but stayed within five points until a nearly three-minute scoring drought allowed the Nittany Lions to push it back to a seven-point advantage with just 53 seconds remaining.
After McGowens and Thorbjarnarson each nailed a pair of free throws on 1-and-1 opportunites to cut it to 81-78, Jones missed one of his two free throws with 34 seconds left. Then Penn State fouled McGowens on his way to the rim for a lay-up and-one, which he knocked down. 82-81. Jones traded two free throws with Teddy Allen’s final bucket, a lay-up with 16 seconds to go to inch back to a one-point deficit at 84-83.
After Jimari Wheeler sank two free throws with 12 seconds remaining, it set up the fateful play Nebraska just couldn’t execute, coming up oh so short yet again in a season full of thoughts of what might have been.
Next up: #5 Illinois, who was upset by Michigan State Tuesday night. Tip-off at 6 p.m. central from Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln.