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Nebraska Men’s Basketball Recap: Huskers blow huge lead, fall 76-65 to Minnesota

Remember when we led by 15 at half...? I liked that better

NCAA Basketball: Creighton at Nebraska Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska did everything right...sort of. The first half could not have gone much better. Dawson Garcia, the leading scorer for the Gophers, played only 5 minutes due to spraining his ankle. He scored zero points in those five minutes. Nebraska outrebounded their opponent, which is crucial on the road. They outshot their opponent, a recipe for success. They led by 15 points at the half, so things were on the up and up.

Then the 2nd half had to happen. Here came the Nebrasketball of old. The “can’t put teams away” team. Multiple turnovers and scoring droughts lasting well over 3 minutes meant plenty of empty possessions. The defense couldn’t hold the lead, as Minnesota this time shot the lights out of the gym. It was a classic, typical, can’t get a win when needed night in the B1G. This is by far the best and deepest team Fred Hoiberg has put together in his tenure here, and Minnesota quickly showed it’s still not physical enough when it mattered most.

1st Half Analysis:

Nebraska played an absolutely fantastic 1st half, which it led 39-24. The main story early was Dawson Garcia, who came into this game averaging just over 21 points per game, rolled his ankle just over 2 minutes into the contest. He eventually returned with just over three minutes remaining, but the Gopher offense had looked stagnant without him. Cam Christie came out and scored 5 early points for Minnesota as they took an early 1-point lead. Both teams looked really good early, shooting over 50% from the floor in the opening 10 minutes. Minnesota went on a scoring drought of just over 4 minutes, and that is where Nebraska took command.

Nebraska was led by Brice Williams, who had a solid half. Williams had 17 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists. C.J Wilcher had 9 points off the bench. Keisei Tominaga was held scoreless in the first half and looks to still be getting back into game shape. Nebraska shot a phenomenal 58.6% from the floor as it went 17-29. The Huskers did a good job of sharing the basketball, assisting on 10 of the made field goals in the half. Nebraska out rebounded Minnesota 20-11.

Minnesota was led by Braeden Carrington, who had 7 points. Cam Christie and Mike Mitchell Jr both had 5. Isaiah Ihnen had 3 of the Gophers 11 rebounds, which was tops on the team at half. Dawson Garcia was held scoreless but played only 5 minutes due to the ankle injury. Minnesota shot 34.6% from the floor in the half, and a meager 3-14 from deep.

2nd Half Analysis:

Minnesota came out a little bit faster than Nebraska to start the half. Despite only playing 5 minutes in the first half, Dawson Garcia tried to give it a go for the Gophers. That experiment lasted all of 2 minutes, and he never returned. Allick rolled his ankle, which caused him to miss a few minutes, but managed to gut it out. Nebraska was up 11 at the under 16 timeout.

Nebraska subsequently went cold. The Huskers opened the half shooting 1-9 in the opening 8 minutes. Minnesota used a 11-0 run to cut the lead to 2 at the under 12 timeout. Nebraska had 3 scoring droughts of 3+ minutes in the second half, which would haunt them. Minnesota took the lead with 10:42 left in the ballgame, and it never gave it up. Nebraska was outscored 52-26 by Minnesota in the second half.

Final Stats:

Nebraska shot 45.3% from the floor in the game, but only 5-18 from the three-point line. The Huskers outrebounded the Gophers 32-31 but gave up 13 offensive rebounds. Nebraska committed 18 turnovers, many of which came during the multiple scoring droughts in the second half. The foul situation would haunt Nebraska as well, as they committed 21 to Minnesota’s 9. Brice Williams fouled out with 2:24 remaining.

Brice Williams finished with a game high 18 points. Jamarques Lawrence finished with 16, while Juwan Gary chipped in 11 off the bench. The more telling story offensively was the lack of scoring from Keisei Tominaga and Rienk Mast. Tominaga finished with 4 points, all from the free-throw line, while Mast only had 4 as well. Both guys came into the contest averaging double digits. Lawrence led the team with 7 rebounds, while Williams had 6.

Minnesota shot 47.2% from the floor for the contest. The Gophers shot 59.3% from the floor in the 2nd half, as it went 16-27. The Gophers went 8-25 from the three-point line, finishing at 32.0%. Minnesota had 29 free-throw attempts, while Nebraska only had 15. Minnesota finished with 18 assists on their 25 made field goals.

The Gophers had 5 guys finish with double figures, led by Joshua Ola-Joseph who had 15. Braeden Carrington had 13, while Elijah Hawkins, Pharrel Payne, and Mike Mitchell Jr each had 12. Leading scorer Dawson Garcia finished the night scoreless, playing only 7 minutes due to an ankle injury. Hawkins led the way with 6 rebounds and 11 assists for the Gophers.

Nebraska takes on Michigan State next in Big Ten play on Sunday December 10th. Tipoff is at 5:30 at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The first conference home game for Nebraska will be televised on BTN.