LINCOLN — Nebraska's defense went missing Saturday night. As a result, the Huskers' four-game winning streak to open the season vanished.
Kent State shot 54.2 percent in the first half and 60 percent in the second while pulling away to a 74-60 victory in front of 5,947 fans at the Devaney Center.
“I thought we just did a poor job defensively all night,'' NU coach Tim Miles said.
No argument from Husker senior Dylan Talley, who scored a career-high 27 points but wanted to talk only about the lack of defensive intensity.
“It wasn't how it should have been,'' he said. “It wasn't how it usually is. It was not how we practiced it.
“That's on the players and me as a senior. We've got to do better than that.''
Nebraska (4-1) had held three of its first four opponents to less than 40 percent shooting. The only team better than that was the University of Nebraska at Omaha, which shot 46.7 percent but fell to NU 75-62.
Kent State (4-2) came to Lincoln after needing a last-second shot to beat Bethune-Cookman at home 69-68.
But other than a five-minute dry spell near the end of the first half, the Golden Flashes from the Mid-American Conference operated at such high efficiency that a late rally wasn't needed.
Nebraska did cut a seven-point deficit to one at 48-47 with 11:30 to play on Brandon Ubel's putback. The senior forward had 17 points and 13 rebounds. But on the next eight possessions, Kent State produced points.
By the end of that flurry, the Huskers trailed 66-53 with 4:32 left.
“That was a great team effort, getting the win against a Big Ten school,'' Kent State coach Rob Senderoff said. “We haven't done that in a long time, and we have a pretty good program.''
Nebraska had trouble guarding Kent State's two mobile inside players, Chris Evans and Darren Goodson.
The 6-foot-8, 220-pound Evans had 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting, plus six rebounds. The 6-5, 245-pound Goodson — averaging 3.0 points — contributed 16 points and four rebounds in just 17 minutes.
When asked about the problem guarding mobile big people, Miles said:
“At this point, I've got a lot of concerns. But obviously that is a concern. I just question our mental readiness, and I have to put that on me.
“I actually thought we had practiced all right. I thought we would be ready to go.''
Offensively, besides the 44 points combined from Talley and Ubel, Nebraska got no more than six from anyone else. And NU hit only 3 of 19 3-pointers.
Guard Ray Gallegos had the toughest night. In 37 minutes, he made 1 of 9 shots and had no assists. Center Andre Almeida had only three points and two rebounds in 15 minutes.
“Some of our guys let their offensive performance, or lack of it, affect their defensive effort,'' Miles said. “You could see the wheels turning, especially on Ray Gallegos and Andre Almeida.
“Instead of responding with a little more edge or intensity, we kind of go downhill.”
NOTES: Husker freshman Shavon Shields, who played his first college game Wednesday after recovering from elbow surgery, sat out Saturday because of elbow swelling. ... Nebraska shot more free throws than its opponent for the first time this season (17 of 26 vs. 13 of 18). ... Nebraska’s next game is its first road game, Tuesday at 8:15 p.m. CST at Wake Forest in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
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