NORTHWESTERN 65, NEBRASKA 54
EVANSTON, Ill. — Nebraska ended the Big Ten regular season with a resounding thud.
The Huskers fell behind by 20 in the first half for the second straight game and went on to lose Sunday to Northwestern 65-54 in front of 7,702 at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
The result sends Nebraska (14-17, 6-12) into Wednesday's play-in round at the league tournament as the 11th seed against 14th seed Rutgers (7-24, 1-17). This is the second straight year the Huskers have been forced into the first day of the five-day, 14-team event in Indianapolis.
Sunday's setback was the fifth straight for Nebraska and ninth in 11 games. Over two seasons, NU has lost 21 of its past 27 conference games under fourth year coach Tim Miles.
Nebraska, down 37-17 late in the first half, closed to 55-49 with 4:03 to play. But senior guard Benny Parker missed an open 3-pointer on the next possession. Then with two minutes left, senior Shavon Shields threw a pass that was intercepted to end any victory hopes.
"This is the second year in a row we've lost the last game of the year for the single bye," Miles said on his postgame radio show. "But we'll be ready. We have to earn confidence. You don't want to be there one day and out. That's the worst."
Nebraska held an 11-9 lead on Northwestern with 13 minutes to go in the first half after wing Andrew White hit a 3-pointer and guard Glynn Watson a jumper on consecutive possessions.
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The Huskers trailed 18-11 with 9:20 to go when Miles drew a technical foul — his fourth in nine games — for berating official Chris Beaver.
Northwestern guard Bryant McIntosh made both technical free throws. When guard Scottie Lindsey scored on the ensuing possession, the Wildcat lead was 22-11, completing a 13-0 surge.
"I regret that 13-0 run," Miles said. "Two things: One I got a technical, without a bench warning, again. I guess that's their prerogative, the officials.
"The second one is I had some young guys out there who weren't performing well on either end, and I didn't use a timeout to quell that run."
Nebraska guard Tai Webster's 3-pointer broke that run, but that was NU's lone field goal in nearly 11 minutes. Before another Husker basket, Northwestern completed a 15-3 run for a 37-17 lead with 53 seconds left in the first half.
Northwestern (20-11, 8-10) got big games from its two seniors on senior day. Seven-foot center Alex Olah scored a game-high 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Guard Tre Demps scored 17 points.
This was the first time in school history Northwestern reached 20 wins in the regular season. The Wildcats still have never played in the NCAA tournament.
Nebraska's offense, referred to last week by Miles as "stagnant," stayed that way.
NU shot 36.5 percent from the field. Shields, who scored 11 points, was 2 of 12 shooting. Webster finished with 13 points. White, 1 of 7 in the first half, was 4 of 5 in the second and also scored 13 points while adding six rebounds and three steals.