Published Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 10:07 pm / Updated at 1:17 am
BASKETBALL
Huskers miss opportunity to knock off Michigan

LINCOLN — Missed layups and interior defense.

Those season-long bugaboos for the Nebraska men's basketball team reappeared late Thursday night and contributed mightily to Michigan pulling out a 71-70 victory before a sellout crowd of 15,012 at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

The Huskers, despite seeing the Wolverines shoot 62 percent, had a chance to win after UM freshman guard Derrick Walton Jr. scored a go-ahead layup with 21 seconds left.

Nebraska called time with 9.3 seconds left and got the ball to leading scorer Terran Petteway, who had scored nine of his 16 points in the previous five minutes.

Petteway roared to the basket across and down the lane on what was supposed to be a naked (no defensive help) screen. But Michigan pulled back into the lane slightly on defense, forcing Petteway to try to a running finger-roll bank shot with three seconds left.

“It was a bang-bang play,'' he said. “All I was thinking about was getting to the rim.

“I made a layup five times before that, but I missed the game-winner. It hurt. It's the worst feeling to let your teammates down at the last second when we could have won the game.''

That wasn't NU's last gasp.

After Petteway's miss, Huskers forward Leslee Smith had an unguarded tip-in try. But the ball glanced off the rim, sending Nebraska (8-7, 0-3) to its fourth straight loss and giving Michigan (11-4, 3-0) its fifth straight win.

Wolverines coach John Beilein wasn't sure either streak would remain intact while watching the final sequence.

“They got the ball up at the end and it looked like it had a chance,'' he said. “And the second one looked like it had an even better chance.''

Walton's winning layup with 21 seconds left wasn't without controversy.

Nebraska's players, coaches and fans thought he charged, but a blocking foul was called on Smith after the 6-foot-1 freshman blasted past NU guard Tai Webster.

That wasn't the only big play from Walton, who finished with 10 points and four assists. At the end of the first half, the 2013 Michigan high school player of the year swished a 45-footer, giving UM a 33-30 halftime lead.

Walton wasn't made available for interviews, but Michigan wing Glenn Robinson III was happy to discuss the half-court heave.

“It had a great impact,'' said Robinson, who led all scorers with 19 points. “We were a little bit down because they had just come back and hit a couple of 3s on us. After Derrick hit that shot, it amped us up.''

Michigan shot 66.7 percent the second half, largely from getting the ball inside. From the 9:50 mark of the second half to 6:10 left to play, the Wolverines scored seven baskets. Five came on virtually uncontested moves inside.

UM forward Jordan Morgan, averaging 3.6 points a game, scored 15 on 7 of 9 shooting.

“They really got us in screen and roll tonight,'' Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. “It wasn't just 'throw it in and score over the top of us' as much.

“Screen and roll defense is hard to do. That's why that's all you see in the NBA. And Michigan makes you do it over and over and over.''

The loss was Nebraska's first in eight games at Pinnacle Bank Arena. It also was the first for Miles in nine games at NU decided by five points or less.

“It's a really disappointing night,'' the coach said.

Neither team ever took control of the game — Michigan's biggest lead was six points, Nebraska's three — because neither team could stop the other.

The Huskers shot 53.1 percent from the field. Guard Ray Gallegos had 14 points, hitting 4 of 10 3-pointers. Guard Deverell Biggs came off the bench to produce another 14 points and five rebounds in 20 minutes.

But in the final 6:55 of the first half, Nebraska scored only four points, both on baskets from Biggs.

“Every play counts in college basketball,'' Miles said. “You can't have these huge dry spells or a whole bunch of silly turnovers. Terran had six turnovers.''
Michigan outscored Nebraska 21-7 on points from turnovers.

“You can't do that anywhere, home or road,'' Miles said. “But that's been our M.O. in the league. We don't turn it over a lot, but it seems like every time we do, they make us pay.''

* * *

Video: Highlights from Michigan-Nebraska

Contact the writer: Lee Barfknecht

lee.barfknecht@owh.com    |   402-444-1024    |  

Lee Barfknecht has won nine national writing awards from four separate organizations, and is a 12-time winner of the Nebraska sportswriter of the year award. He covers Big Ten football and basketball, Nebraska basketball and other college financial issues for The World-Herald.

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