After losing a 15-point first-half lead, Nebraska rallied down the stretch to produce a 91-85 Big Ten victory over shorthanded Minnesota on Tuesday night at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.
All five starters scored in double figures for Nebraska (18-8, 9-4 Big Ten), which won for the sixth time in the last seven games. Sophomore forward Isaiah Roby led the way with a career-high 21 points and five blocks while junior guard James Palmer Jr. piled up 19 points and a career-high nine assists.
Minnesota (14-12, 3-10) lost its sixth in a row and ninth out of 10 since senior center Reggie Lynch was suspended from school. Senior guard Nate Mason piled up a career-high 34 points while junior Jordan Murphy registered his NCAA-leading 21st double-double with 22 points and 13 rebounds.
The Gophers played without sophomore guard Amir Coffey (14.0 PPG) for the eighth time in the last nine games due to a right shoulder injury while junior guard Dupree McBrayer went scoreless and sat out the second half with a leg injury.
The Gophers scored the game’s first seven points as Mason buried a 3-pointer and Murphy posted two baskets to force Nebraska coach Tim Miles to call a timeout just 1:34 into the game, but the Cornhuskers soon caught fire.
Nebraska went 8-for-9 from the field on its next nine possessions to seize a 20-14 lead with 12:36 left in the first. Junior forward Isaac Copeland drilled two of the Cornhuskers’ four 3-pointers during that five-minute stretch.
Nebraska built that lead without any points from leading scorer Palmer. He made up for that with a seven-point spree later in the first half, then fed senior guard Anton Gill for a transition layup and a 3-pointer on back-to-back possessions to push the Cornhuskers’ lead to 37-22 with 4:24 left in the first half.
That’s when Mason, who sat down with his second foul at the 9:10 mark in the first half, returned to the fray to swish a pair of 3-pointers and a leaner. When Mason found freshman point guard Isaiah Washington for a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer, Minnesota sliced Nebraska’s edge to 44-37.
Nebraska clung to a 64-62 lead when the game’s most crucial sequence occurred with 9:03 to play. Roby grabbed a defensive rebound and raced up the floor until Mason smacked Roby’s right arm as he tried to dish the ball at the free throw line.
Minnesota coach Richard Pitino disagreed vehemently and picked up a technical foul. Gill sank the two technical free throws, then junior point guard Glynn Watson Jr. set up Roby for a layup on the subsequent possession for a 70-62 lead.
—Field Level Media