Nebraska basketball needed a win on Saturday against Northwestern and the Huskers got one. Here are three takeaways.
There were some nervous moments on Saturday for Nebraska basketball. There were even some moments that reminded me of the Huskers’ recent losses to Rutgers and Minnesota.
But when push came to shove on Saturday, Nebraska basketball got just enough stops and one huge 3-pointer from Keisei Tominaga to survive a rally from the Wildcats late as the Huskers held on for the 75-69 win.
Josiah Allick had 15 points and five boards in the win. Tominaga finished with 13, while Brice Williams had 12. C.J. Wilcher pitched in with 10 off the bench. Jamarques Lawrence matched.
It wasn’t pretty and the Huskers committed 17 turnovers. The Wildcats were plus-10 in turnover differential and plus nine at the 3-point line and Nebraska still won the game.
Here are three takeaways from a huge win.
Keisei met the moment
Things were very much in doubt before Tominaga’s dagger 3-pointer hit the bottom of the net. There were about 30 seconds left and the Huskers led by two. A 3-point shot isn’t the most high-percentage look, but Tominaga was open and didn’t hesitate.
The Huskers struggled with turnovers in the second half and part of that was guys being indecisive. There was none of that from Tominaga who did what you need your best players to do: deliver when the game was on the line and it might have been the biggest shot of his Nebraska basketball career. At least one of them.
The Huskers buck a trend
Nebraska gives up a lot of 3-point field goals. The Huskers were giving up an average of 11 per game in Big Ten play and Northwestern hit 10 on Saturday.
The Wildcats had a plus-nine point advantage on 3-pointers and this was the first time in Big Ten play that Nebraska has made fewer 3-pointers than an opponent and won the game.
Nebraska’s 2-point defense was a big part of that. Nebraska basketball outscored Northwestern 38-28 on 2-point attempts. They also held Northwestern to 43 percent, while the Huskers shot 55 percent. Nebraska also had a five-point edge at the free throw line, which helped them overcome the 3-point differential.
Righting the ship
That would have been an ugly loss for Nebraska basketball, especially after they were up by 11 points in the second half. Winning without Juwan Gary was impressive and Northwestern was 4-2 in the Big Ten. This is going to be a quality win down the line. It also evened Nebraska up in the Big Ten at 4-4 (14-5 overall).
Joe Lunardi has the Huskers projected to make the NCAA tournament in his recent projection (after the Rutgers game) but that might have changed with the loss. Make no mistake, there is plenty of work to do for this team, which starts on Tuesday at home against Ohio State.
But this was the kind of game you need to win to make the NCAA tournament and good for Fred Hoiberg and the Huskers for finding a way, even if it wasn’t picture-perfect.
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