----------------------------- 1 2 total Rutgers 31 34 65 NEBRASKA 21 43 64 -----------------------------
Nebraska led by one with 9.8 seconds remaining, and got Sanders, who was 11-of-18 from the field, to miss his first attempt off the backboard, but the Rutgers guard got the rebound and hit the game-winner off the glass.
Nebraska (9-10, 3-4 Big Ten) was unable to get a final shot in suffering its second straight loss in the last second.
Nebraska trailed 57-55 with 3:35 left before Jack McVeigh took, as the sophomore hit a trio of 3-pointers, in a two-minute span, the last of which gave the Huskers a 64-59 lead with 1:31 left. McVeigh had all 12 of his points in the second half, as NU shot 48 percent in the second half after shooting just 22 percent in the opening 20 minutes.
Rutgers (12-8, 1-6 Big Ten) chipped away, as a basket by C.J. Gettys made it a three-point lead with 1:15 left. After a Husker turnover, Deshawn Freeman hit two free throws with 40 seconds left to make it a one-point game and set up the finish. NU had a chance to put the game away, but another costly turnover gave the hosts a final opportunity they would not waste.
Webster led four Huskers in double figures with 14 points, while Glynn Watson Jr. and McVeigh added 12 apiece.
Nebraska came out quickly in the second half, using a 10-2 run in the first 2:09 of the half to pull within 33-31 after a Michael Jacobson 3-point play. The teams would trade the lead until the Huskers seemingly got the game under control with a 7-0 spurt keyed by Watson and Evan Taylor, who finished with 10 points and six boards, gave the visitors a seven-point lead after a pair of Taylor free throws with 8:53 left.
Nebraska led 53-46 after a Jordy Tshimanga basket, but Rutgers would climb back into the game with seven straight points, tying the score at 53-all after a pair of Sanders free throws with 6:52 left.
Nebraska's offense went ice cold in the first half, shooting just 22 percent from the floor in falling behind 31-21 at the break. After a slow start, the Huskers got a spark off the bench from Jeriah Horne, who scored five points in a 9-2 spurt, as the Huskers took a 15-20 lead. The Huskers led 17-13 after a Jordy Tshimanga field goal with 10:23 left in the half, but that would be the final shot they hit before the break, missing 17 consecutive shots to end the half.
Rutgers took advantage, using an 18-2 run to build a 31-19 lead after a Deshawn Freeman basket with 30 seconds left in the half. Freeman had eight first-half points and six rebounds, as Rutgers shot 44 percent and out-rebounded NU 22-20.
The Huskers return to action Thursday night, as they travel to Northwestern. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. and the game will be carried on BTN and the Husker Sports Network.
Nebraska Head Coach Tim Miles Post-Game Quotes
"Well, we have to credit Rutgers and Coach Pikiell. They really stuck with it when we got up seven and then got up five again. They just stayed with it and ended up finding a way to get their first Big Ten win. I credit our guys for hanging in there after a poor first half to fight back and take the lead, but we just made a few errors down the stretch, a couple turnovers and a couple fouls and that was the difference in the game. I thought we did a good job defensively for a long time, but we couldn't get [Corey] Sanders under control. That was probably the story of the game."
On defensive set on final Rutgers possession
"We wanted to keep him [Corey Sanders] on that side of the floor and he kind of went and tied to split it and when he picked the ball up it was low and there were guys coming at him so he just put the ball up and it goes off the backboard. It doesn't hit the rim, and [Tai] Webster is engaged with C.J. Gettys and tips it and Corey's momentum just takes him right there and it's a point-blank layup. You kind of feel like it's rebounding an air ball almost. That probably wasn't what cost us the game. But he's such a good athlete, he made so many other acrobatic plays that were well-contested. He really made a lot of plays tonight."
On dropping another closely contested game
"I think that's my biggest concern is just keeping the spirts of our players up. As a coach, this is part of the business. I've been a head coach a long time. I don't know this is like 21 or 22 years or whatever it is, and you go through seasons and times like this. But at the same time I know we can compete with anybody, and I know we can compete with anybody anywhere. We've just got to keep teaching, keep these guys believing, and come out on top because winning can really energize you. You can't let this define you."
On depth of the Big Ten
"No doubt. Rutgers has been ahead of I think every team they've played. That's what we told our guys - they will be ahead. They are a full-throttle team. They'll pick it up, they'll pick up their pressure, they're going to be all over the glass. Coach [Pikiell] coaches to his personality and they are going to be full-throttle. Our job is to get them off that, and I thought we did when we were scoring the ball and I thought we did even when we were getting some stops. In the first half it felt like we should be down 20, because we hadn't done anything. So we knew we can come back. But Sanders played really well and we did a good job on [Mike] Williams and [Deshawn] Freeman, but they still got us on the glass so you're going to give up some of that any way. But on a day like today, Corey was really the story I think."
On defending Sanders when he gets on a roll
"I think his ability, his body control, his ability to hang in the air, take contact, and still get a shot up. From the time it leaves his hand to whatever angle he wants it looks like it's going in. There were two or three of those plays where our kid comes back and goes 'coach' and I'm just like 'that's what he does, hang in there, stay in front of him.' You have to credit Corey, he really was a playmaker today."
On Rutgers this year compared to last season
"Well we got them three times last year. I think they accounted for about 30 percent of our wins. Not 10, I mean 30. Here's what you see: you see a team that plays very hard, is very well organized, that fits that Calhoun kind of mantra, big physical guys on the glass punishing. That's Big Ten basketball, that's what it looks like to me. That's a Big Ten basketball team. And as they get more skill, they're going to be even tougher."
On Calhoun's influence on the way Rutgers is coached
"Oh yea, definitely. You see the big wings, just the way they're on the glass and the way they're going to put it inside. Steve did a good job assembling what he could for things, and he's got a difference-maker. Williams is a tough player, but Sanders is a guy that can set you apart because he can go and get it against anybody. He got 17 against us at our place the first game last year in the first half, so it wasn't like it was a big surprised, we knew he could go."