Nebraska basketball was up by 11 points in the second half and lost to Rutgers. Here are three takeaways.
The road hasn’t been kind to Nebraska basketball, especially in Big Ten play, and the nightmare continued on Wednesday night as the Huskers blew an 11-point lead in what ended up as an 87-82 overtime loss.
Following their win over No. 1 Purdue last week, Nebraska basketball has dropped two games in a row. They are 13-5 overall and 3-4 in the Big Ten conference. For much of the way, the Huskers had the game under control but after not scoring a field goal in the last nine minutes and change, they gave away another winnable game.
This felt a lot like Minnesota and when NCAA tournament selection time rolls around, this could come back to haunt the Huskers. Brice Williams scored 22 points in the loss. Keisei Tominaga added 16. Nebraska made 13 3-pointers total but it wasn’t enough and here are three takeaways.
Offensive rebounds doom Nebraska again
Rutgers made some 3-point shots, 11 total, but the Scarlet Knights shot 32 percent on 2-point attempts and were awful at the free-throw line. Yet, Nebraska bailed them out by allowing 20 offensive rebounds which led to a bunch of second-chance points (17 I believe).
There were some bad fouls in the last minute of regulation, but the bottom line is that if the Huskers just rebound the ball, the game is over. It was a similar story against Minnesota. The Gophers wanted it more. So did Rutgers and that’s why Nebraska is heading home after a crucial loss.
Rutgers outrebound Nebraska 46-36. The Scarlet Knights had 12 more field-goal attempts and six more free throws, which would up being the difference in the game.
The 3-point defense has fallen off a cliff
Allowing 69 points doesn’t sound that bad, but if you read our preview, you’ll know that Rutgers ranked outside the top 300 in overall field-goal percentage, 2-point percentage, 3-point percentage, and free-throw percentage. Yet, the Huskers allowed the Scarlet Knights to make 11 3-pointers.
Iowa and Wisconsin made an average of 14 treys per game in their wins over Nebraska. Add in the 11 from Rutgers and that’s 39 total in the last three road games, an average of 13 per game. If you add in the Minnesota game, Nebraska basketball has allowed 47 3-pointers in four Big Ten games, an average of 11.75 per game.
That’s not good enough. Like the offensive rebounding, it has to be better and there is no excuse for it. The defense was supposed to be a strength of this team and it hasn’t been, at least during Big Ten road games.
Another missed opportunity
You’re going to lose games on the road in the Big Ten. However, when you get a chance to win one of those games, you need to take advantage and this is the second time the Huskers have blown a double-digit lead on the road against a team in the bottom half of the league.
It’s one thing to give up a lead to Wisconsin. That’s understandable. What happened at Minnesota and at Rutgers on Wednesday night is inexcusable for a team that wants to be in the NCAA tournament.
At one point, the Huskers went nearly 11 minutes without a field. In the last 18:22 of the game, Nebraska had one 2-point field goal and I don’t care how well you shoot the ball from deep, that’s not winning basketball.
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