ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The Nebraska men's basketball team pushed second-ranked Michigan harder and farther Wednesday night than most would have predicted.
The Huskers, down five points at halftime, were still within five with 7:12 to play and within single digits inside three minutes before falling 62-47. The win allowed UM (16-0, 3-0) to match its best start in school history.
NU (9-7, 0-3) remains winless in the Big Ten, but showed far better than its status as a 23-point underdog.
“We played a really good team — one of the country's best,'' coach Tim Miles said. “And I thought our kids, as the game grew on, grew more confident and felt like, 'Hey, we can do this and we can compete if we just do these things.' ”
Miles' game plan of stopping fast breaks, packing in his defense and allowing outside shots worked masterfully against one of the nation's most explosive offenses.
Michigan, which had scored 94 and 95 points in its first two Big Ten games, was limited to season lows in points (62 vs. the previous low of 67) and field-goal shooting (38.9 percent vs. 44.3 percent).
The Wolverines came into the game second nationally in shooting at 52.2 percent.
“(Nebraska) did a great job of minimizing their turnovers and maximizing the shot clock,'' Wolverines coach John Beilein said. “We didn't do a good job in the first half understanding there weren't going to be many possessions.
“If you're not hot, you'll play a lot of defense. We'll learn from this a lot.''
Nebraska's last lead of the game was at 12-11 with 11:58 to go in the first half. But Michigan never got the lead into double digits until there was just 4:39 left in the game.
But playing close in front of 12,693 fans at Crisler Center was no consolation.
“You really struggle telling those guys in the locker room good job because they don't want to hear it,'' Miles said. “That's what I like about them.
“They don't want to define themselves this way. They wanted to win this game.''
Nebraska controlled the pace in the first half, though it trailed 25-20 at halftime. Michigan, fourth nationally in 3-point shooting at 42.3 percent, missed 9 of 10 in the first half. Overall, UM hit 3 of 17 3s, matching its worst effort this season.
The Huskers closed to 31-28 early in the second half on a driving basket from senior wing Dylan Talley, who had 12 points and five assists.
Junior guard Ray Gallegos hit 3-pointers at 10:16 and 7:12 to keep Nebraska within five points at 47-42. He led all scorers with 19 points — one more than Michigan national player of the year candidate Trey Burke.
But the Wolverines finally pulled away. They shot 26 free throws to seven for NU, and held a 47-30 rebounding advantage.
Nebraska shot just 33.9 percent from the field, firing 26 3-pointers.
“We took a lot of 3s, but I'm fine with that,'' Miles said. “We need to generate offense.''
NOTES: Husker guard Mike Peltz didn’t make the trip because of a recurring knee injury. His status for the rest of the season is being evaluated. ... A video crew from BTN’s “The Journey’’ has been embedded with NU in Lincoln and on the Michigan trip. ... Nebraska’s next game is Sunday at 5 p.m. CST at No. 22 Michigan State (12-3, 1-1).