For Nebraska basketball coach Tim Miles, tonight was night where the Huskers were more lucky than good, as Nebraska nearly saw a 15-point lead vanish down the stretch before holding on to a 59-55 victory over Jacksonville State Tuesday evening.
“Did you guys ever see that Buffalo Wild Wings commercial? If you haven’t, you just lived it. Christmas came early in the Devaney,” Miles said. “First of all, we’re up, I think 13 at the under-eight timeout and I said, ‘Okay, here’s how you win the game: from the under-eight to the under-four, you extend the lead. You extend the lead. Just play your butt off, play defense, handle the ball well and be on the attack.’ Whatever their run was from there, we just did completely the opposite. It was so disappointing. We were fortunate. We just plain got lucky.”
Nebraska led 50-35 following a pair of Dylan Talley free throws at the seven minute mark, but 20-6 run by the Gamecocks pulled Jacksonville State (8-3) within 56-55 after Ronnie Boggs’ 3-pointer with 21 seconds left. On Nebraska’s next possession, Ray Gallegos split a pair of three throws with 18 seconds left, giving NU a two-point lead and the visitors an opportunity to tie.
JSU’s Brian Williams got into the lane, but his attempt missed and Dylan Talley pulled down the rebound. Talley, who finished with 10 points, then salted the game away by sinking a pair of free throws to preserve the win. Nebraska, which came into the contest hitting on 67 percent from the foul line, went 17-of-21 from the charity stripe to snap a two-game losing streak.
The Huskers (7-3) placed three players in double figures and received an outstanding performance from Shavon Shields, who led NU with 14 points. The 6-foot-6 freshman from Olathe, Kan., hit 6-of-7 shots from the field while setting career highs in rebounds and steals, as his offensive output in the first 30 minutes staked Nebraska a seemingly comfortable lead.
Brandon Ubel was the third Husker in double figures, as he totaled his third double-double of the season with 15 points and 10 rebounds, as Nebraska outscored JSU, 28-16 in the paint and held the Gamecocks to just 36 percent shooting on the floor.
It was a game of runs early, as the Huskers ran off seven straight points to take an early 11-6 lead after a Talley jumper, only to see Jacksonville State respond with a 14-2 run of its own to take a 20-13 lead after a Brian Williams basket
Nebraska then put the clamps down defensively, holding JSU to just one basket over the final 9:38 of the half to take control. Baskets by Ubel and Shields started a 16-2 Husker surge to close the half, as Nebraska ran off the final 12 points of the half, and made eight consecutive defensive stops to take a 29-22 lead into the locker room. NU held the visitors to just 30.8 percent shooting in the first half.
The Huskers started to go inside early in the second half, as Andre Almeida and Ubel keyed a 10-3 surge that put the Huskers up 41-29. From there, Shields took over, accounting for the Huskers’ next seven points, as NU pushed the lead to 15 before Jacksonville State rallied down the stretch
Darion Rackey led four Jacksonville State with 17 points, as the Gamecocks saw their five-game win streak snapped.
The Huskers will travel to El Paso this weekend for a two-day tournament on Saturday and Sunday. NU will face Central Michigan Saturday night at 6 p.m. The games will not be televised and only available on the Husker Sports Radio Network.