Once again, Nebraska found itself in a tight ball game late, and once again, the Huskers couldn’t find a way to close it out.
Michigan scored the final six points in Ann Arbor on Tuesday night to seal an 85-79 win over the Huskers, dropping Nebraska to 6-16 overall and 0-11 in Big Ten play. Nebraska also fell to 0-11 all time at Michigan.
Foul trouble limited Michigan’s star big man Hunter Dickinson to just six points and five minutes in the first half, but Nebraska had no answer for him when he was on the floor in the second half. He finished with a game-high 26 points and passed out of a double-team for the go-ahead assist after Nebraska had tied the game up at 79-all with 80 seconds to play.
Kobe Webster turned the ball over on the next possession, then the Huskers gave up a long rebound on a missed 3 with less than 20 seconds to play, allowing the Wolverines (11-8, 5-4) to seal the game at the foul line.
The teams traded extended runs throughout the game, but the Wolverines made the last push.
Nebraska shot 50.8% from the field, including 7-of-18 from 3, and went 12-for-15 at the foul line. Michigan hit just two of its 15 3-pointers but shot 57.8% inside the arc and 27-of-33 at the charity stripe. The Wolverines grabbed 10 offensive rebounds and turned them into 14 second-chance points in the second half after Nebraska did a good job on the defensive glass in the first half. Michigan’s starting backcourt of Eli Brooks and DeVante’ Jones combined for 38 points.
Bryce McGowens led Nebraska with 26 points on 10-of-20 shooting, his fourth straight game with 20 or more points. He’s the first freshman to accomplish that feat in program history. He also grabbed a team-high six rebounds. Derrick Walker added 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting but played just 22 minutes before fouling out. Alonzo Verge Jr. was back in the starting lineup after sitting out against Rutgers following the death of a family member, finishing with eight points and three assists in 22 minutes.
Foul trouble played a role early as Lat Mayen picked up two fouls in the first two minutes of the game, then Dickinson committed his second foul at the 15-minute mark. Walker picked up his second with 10:23 to play as well.
Despite the foul trouble to its starting frontcourt, the Huskers continued to go blow-for-blow with the Wolverines. The first 10 minutes saw six ties and three lead changes. The Huskers surged ahead by three a couple of times after buckets from Bryce McGowens who scored 12 points in the first 12-and-a-half minutes.
The Huskers used a 10-2 run including 3s from C.J. Wilcher and Verge and layups from Verge and Bryce McGowens to take a 34-26 lead with five minutes to play in the first half. Nebraska’s offense ground to a halt after that, however, as the Huskers went 2:45 without scoring and Michigan cut the deficit down to three.
Trey McGowens finally got the Huskers going again with a pair of bonus free throws and then a tough bucket, and Verge found Mayen in the corner — who checked back in to play the five after Eduardo Andre picked up his third foul — for a 3 to make it a 7-0 run and push the lead back to 10.
Michigan scored four of the last five points, but Nebraska took a 44-37 lead into halftime. The Huskers shot 54.8% from the field in the first half including 4-of-7 from deep and 6-of-8 at the foul line. Michigan did a lot of its damage at the foul line, going 12-for-17, but they shot just 1-of-6 from deep.
The younger McGowens led all scorers with 14 at the break. With Dickinson playing just five minutes, Nebraska outscored Michigan 18-12 in the paint, though DeVante’ Jones came alive late to lead Michigan with 10 points.
The Wolverines went inside to Dickinson right away as the second half began and he sparked a 20-3 start to put Michigan back in front. Walker and Mayen both picked up their third foul in the first three minutes. Dickinson had 12 points, six rebounds and two blocks during that start as Michigan took a 57-47 lead.
Wilcher finally ended a nearly six-minute drought from the field with a 3-pointer, sparking a 19-3 run to regain the lead as Nebraska scored on eight of its next nine possessions including pair of tough finishes inside by Keisei Tominaga. Two free throws from Bryce McGowens made it 66-60 Nebraska.
The Wolverines cut it to two, but Nebraska answered with a bucket off the glass from Bryce McGowens and a 3-pointer for Keisei Tominaga, his first attempt from deep since the Purdue game on Jan. 14. Tominaga, playing on his 21st birthday, cleanly blocked the 7-foot-1 Dickinson from behind on the other end, but an official called a foul and then assessed a technical on Tominaga for his reaction.
The technical and ensuing free throws (four of them) sparked a 13-2 run for Michigan that gave the Wolverines a 79-75 lead with two minutes to play. Bryce McGowens answered with a bucket and then the Huskers got a stop, leading to two free throws from Wilcher to tie it up at 79-79. But the Huskers let it slip away from there.
Outside of Walker fouling out with three seconds left, Hoiberg did not substitute in the final 12-and-a-half minutes of the game. He rolled with Webster, Tominaga, Bryce McGowens, Wilcher and Walker.
Brooks added 14 to Dickinson’s 20 second-half points as the Wolverines outscored Nebraska 48-35 in the second half despite making just one 3-pointer.
The Huskers will return home to face Northwestern on Saturday. The Wildcats blew a 24-point lead against Rutgers on Tuesday as the Scarlet Knights scored with 1.9 remaining to send the game to overtime, but Northwestern managed to pull it out in the extra period.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.