Nebraska picked up a Big Ten road win against a scrappy Minnesota Gopher squad that wouldn’t go away until the very end of overtime as our beloved Huskers finished a game by making free throws, something that hasn’t happened since Grover Cleveland’s administration (may or may not be true).
What is true is it was this:
THAT’S OVER 20 YEARS AGO. HISTORY WAS MADE!
The first half was fairly even, both teams shooting the ball well. Both teams had runs, 9-0 for Nebraska, then a 13-2 run just before half for Minnesota resulting in a 39-33 halftime lead. The Gopher run started after Dawson Garcia was knocked to the floor by Sam Griesel and Derrick Walker with no foul call. It lit a spark in the Gophers.
Minnesota was 50% from the field, 14-28, and 50% from three, 6-12, for the half. Nebraska shot 52% from the field, 14-27, and 33% from three, 3-9. Gophers Dawson Garcia and Jamison Battle combined for 25 points. Juwan Gary had 9 points to lead Nebraska, with 12 points coming from the bench.
Our beloved Huskers upped the defensive tempo the second half, but the Gophers kept hanging around. Every time it looked like Nebraska might break open the game the Gophers would make some plays to bring them back.
Nebraska’s offense, especially Walker, wore into the Gophers by drawing fouls and being active under the basket. Garcia picked up 2nd and 3rd foul within 10 seconds. In one possession Walker drew three fouls and scored.
Nebraska hit the BONUS at 15:08.
The Huskers went on a 12-0 Husker run, which ended at 12:35, then Minnesota hit two quick buckets which caused Fred Hoiberg to call a quick timeout. Then it was time for a Minnesota run as they went 6-0 to push the lead to 61-58 until Griesel tied the game at 6:20 with a beautiful three.
It looked like Nebraska might win in regulation, as Juwan Gary hit a putback after a Walker miss, making it 67-64. With 23 seconds left, Walker was called for an offensive foul, as Garcia fell to the floor. Minnesota’s next possession looked unruly and discombobulated, until Joshua Ola-Joseph found Taurus Samuels, who hit a three from the corner with 4 seconds left.
Nebraska hit the double bonus at 1:50 left in overtime. Walker was fouled by Garcia, made one of his two shots to make it 72-69. Garcia picked up his fifth foul at 1:37 for blocking as Walker moved toward the basket. Walker hit his two free throws to make it 74-71.
On the next possession, Battle hit a contested three to tie, then Gary had another tipback as Walker missed under the rim. Battle turned the ball over, then Ola-Joseph fouled Griesel.
Griesel hit two three throws to make it 78-74 with :21 left. Battle airballed a three, turning it over to Nebraska with :13 left. Griesel was fouled, headed to the line with :09 left. He hit both free throws to put the game away, making it 80-74.
Minnesota drove the floor and make a quick bucket and it was a two-score game. Samuels fouled CJ Wilcher, who made 1-of-2 free throws with :04 left. Ta’lon Cooper hit a three at the buzzer for Minnesota to make the final 81-79.
Derrick Walker finished the game as a minor deity, leading the team in points (22), rebounds (8) and assists (7). What other big guy leads his team in assists? Walker was like an air traffic controller out there, finding everyone for success with no crashes.
Juwan Gary had 18 points, Griesel added 17, while Breidenback and Bandoumel both had 7.
Nebraska shot 51% overall (30-59), 33% from 3 (5-15) and 76% (16-21) from the charity stripe. Minnesota’s percentage dropped a little bit in the second half to 48% (31-64), and they shot 37% from 3 (10-27). They were 70% on free throws, only shooting 10.
Nebraska moved to 2-3 in the Big Ten, while Minnesota dropped to 0-4. Nebraska now in sole possession of ninth place in league standings with the win. Yay!