As if playing their second road game in three days following a 20-day program shutdown and 27 days without a game wasn’t difficult enough, the Nebraska Cornhuskers upped the degree of difficulty by playing without their leading scorer, Teddy Allen, who was benched for internal disciplinary reasons. The Minnesota Golden Gophers, losers of five of their last six games, handled the Huskers 79-61 in Minneapolis Monday night.
Junior forward Lat Mayen scored a career-high 15 points, including the only three made three-pointers of the game for Nebraska (4-10 overall, 0-7 Big Ten), all of which came in the second half. Fellow junior Shamiel Stevenson added 14 off the bench, his best scoring night since his days at Pitt.
But it wasn’t enough to overcome a 15-point halftime deficit. Nebraska struggled to score in the first half, shooting just 33.3% overall and missing all eight three-point attempts. Stevenson kept the Big Red competitive, scoring ten of his 14 points before halftime.
Minnesota (12-7, 5-7) survived their two leading scorers Marcus Carr (19.9 ppg) and Liam Robbins (13.6 ppg) both missing long stretches with foul trouble. Each player picked up three in the first half and got their fourth by the 15:39 mark of the second half.
Leading 45-30 at the break, the Gophers stretched it to 51-32 on Gabe Kalscheur’s triple. But with Carr and Robbins leaving the game, NU’s defense took advantage by forcing 17 straight missed shots. Mayen Mayen and Stevenson led a 13-1 Husker run, cutting the 19-point lead down to just seven at 52-45 with 10:53 to go. Tre’ Williams finally broke the spell with a three-pointer, NU responded with back-to-back turnovers, and they never got that close again.
Sophomore Dalano Banton scored nine points and dished out six assists, and junior Trey McGowens added seven points. They each played more than 30 minutes, as did Stevenson, as Nebraska gets back into game shape following the long layoff.
Despite the foul trouble severely limiting their minutes, Carr and Robbins still starred for Minnesota. Carr shot 7-11 from the field and hit all six of his free throws for 21 points to lead all scorers. The Gophers were plus-19 during Carr’s 19 minutes on the floor. Robbins played only 14 minutes, but the 7-foot Drake transfer grabbed eight rebounds and managed seven points with a plus-18.
In Teddy Allen’s absence, Nebraska started senior forward Trevor Lakes, who did not attempt a shot in nearly six minutes of action. Freshman center Eduardo Andre maximized his 13 minutes of floor time with three rebounds and two assists. Andre missed his only field goal attempt, but NU enjoyed a plus-9 when Andre played, the only Husker on the positive side.
Earlier in the day, the Big Ten Conference announced more schedule changes for Nebraska. With six games postponed during the program shutdown, the remainder of the season will continue to be compressed in an attempt to get all games played. Thursday’s home game against Wisconsin will now be played Wednesday at 8:30pm, which makes room for a home game versus Illinois now set for Friday night at 8:00pm. The Illini visit was supposed to have been Jan. 13. The following game against Penn State on Feb. 14 will happen that day at 2:00pm. Five games in nine days!
Next up: No. 21 Wisconsin on Wednesday night at 8:30 on BTN, the Huskers’ first game at Pinnacle Bank Arena in exactly a month.