LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The first thing Tim Miles told reporters after his Nebraska team held off Minnesota surely resonated with fans at Pinnacle Bank Arena and folks watching at home.
“Man, I’m glad that clock ran out,” the coach said following a 52-49 victory Tuesday night.
So were connoisseurs of fine basketball. Except for a heart-pounding final 25 seconds that seemed to last an eternity to Miles, this one was hard on the eyes. There were 33 field goals and 31 turnovers, and the teams combined to miss nearly half their free throws.
“Ugly, but it’s a win,” the Huskers’ Terran Petteway said. “A win is a win. Some pretty good things, some bad things in this game. We’ll take it. We’ve got to. Now is the time we have to make our run.”
Shavon Shields scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half and Nebraska survived an eight-minute field-goal drought to end the game. The Cornhuskers (11-7, 3-3 Big Ten) made 11 of their last 12 free throws after starting 3 for 9 from the line and hung on as Minnesota missed what would have been three straight game-tying 3-pointers before the final buzzer.
Minnesota (12-8, 1-6) has lost six of its last seven games. Five of the Gophers’ six conference losses have been by five points or less.
“We’ve lost our fair share of close ones,” Gophers coach Richard Pitino said. “That’s the best we’ve executed. I thought we got open looks. The reality of the situation is when you miss 10 free throws on the road like that in a one- or two-possession games, you’re not going to win.”
Petteway added 11 points for the Huskers in a slog that had 43 fouls called, 25 in the second half.
Andre Hollins had 21 points for the Gophers, who shot a season-low 30.8 percent from the field and made only 9 of 19 free throws. Joey King added 11 points.
Shields’ jumper with 8:01 left was the final field goal for the Huskers, who shot 40.5 percent.
Hollins’ layup and Carlos Morris’ 3-pointer from the corner pulled the Gophers’ within 50-49, but Benny Parker was fouled and made the free throws to make it a three-point game with 25 seconds left.
Hollins, Morris and DeAndre Mathieu each were off with their 3-point tries at the end.
“The initial one Hollins got off I thought was a decent look, and that one worried me. It looked like it had a good line,” Miles said. “The ones after that didn’t have the arc or the line. But when you’re in a scramble situation, and you’re switching on defense and there are long rebounds and they’re desperate… It felt like we were running around there for 18 seconds.”
Minnesota had an eight-minute field-goal drought and shot just 28.6 percent in the second half yet still had a chance to the end.
Pitino praised Nebraska’s defensive effort, which kept the Gophers from getting good looks inside.
“We’re not going to get any sympathy,” Pitino said. “Miles is a good friend of mine. That’s the way it works. We’ll break through. We’ve still got a ways to go here.”
Minnesota: The Gophers came into the game averaging a Big Ten-leading 11.1 steals and finished with nine. … The Gophers have lost three straight to Nebraska.
Nebraska: Terran Petteway reached 1,000 points in his career with an early 3-point basket. The game also marked Petteway’s 50th consecutive start, most on the team besides Shields’ 68 in a row. … The struggling Tai Webster made his best play of the year when he juked Joey King on his way to the hoop for a layup that gave Nebraska a 15-7 lead.
Minnesota hosts Illinois on Saturday.
Nebraska hosts Michigan State on Saturday.
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