HUSKER MEN’S BASKETBALL: Gary’s Massive Second Half Blows Nebraska Past Minnesota

LINCOLN–(KFOR Feb. 25) – Juwan Gary’s career-high 22 points was a spark plug for Nebraska’s offensive in the second half as they defeated Minnesota 73-55. The Huskers (20-8, 10-7) have now reached 20 wins for the first time in the Fred Hoiberg era as well as eclipsed their total for most Big Ten wins under Hoiberg, surpassing their total of nine from a season ago.

The second meeting of the year between the Huskers and Minnesota (17-10, 8-8) started nearly identical to the Penn State game from just over a week ago. Both teams struggled to find the bottom of the net while the defensive intensity was as high as it’s been this year. Points were at a premium as the score was tied at 12 at the under-eight media timeout and both teams hovered around 30 percent from the field. The defense was the story in the first 20 minutes as Minnesota turned the ball over seven times, made just nine field goals out of 32 attempts, and was one of 11 from beyond the arc.

“We just wanted to go out there and bring that defensive edge,” Gary said.

“If we continue to play defense like this it’s going to be a very great run for us in the next month or so.” Fred Hoiberg and Co.’s performance wasn’t anywhere near flawless either as Nebraska shot 34.5% from the field and 20% from three.

Nebraska was 16-1 at home heading into Sunday’s contest so it was going to be difficult for the Gophers to hold Nebraska down for a full 40 minutes. The Huskers came out swinging, making five of their first seven shots and the sold-out PBA crowd got involved.

“In the first half we had some really good looks and they just weren’t falling,” Gary said. “Once we saw a few shots go in, it rose our confidence to a whole other level.”

Brice Williams got the scoring going and Gary rode that wave scoring 18 of his game and a career-high 22 points in the second half knocking through four threes.

“It was just confidence, teammates were finding me, and I got wide-open shots,” Gary said. “My teammates trust me to take those shots and I’ve put a lot of work in on my shot…if I’m wide open I’m gonna shoot it.”

Nebraska also won both categories that Hoiberg has been preaching all year, rebounding and turnovers. The Huskers won the rebounding battle 44 to 38 and 11 turnovers to the
Gophers’ 13. There was an emphasis on what happened the last time these two met in Minneapolis and what needed to happen to change that outcome.

“Early our guys set the tone, Josiah with two offensive rebounds early in the game,” Hoiberg said. “I think the best sign for us is when the ball was not going in the basket, some really weird things happened…and we still had an eight-point lead at halftime.”

During Nebraska’s four-game win streak, they have won by an average margin of 17.7 points which is the first time Nebraska has won four straight conference contests by 15 or more since the 1911-1912 season when they were in the Missouri Valley Conference.

“I love the way we are playing but we’ve got to keep it going, we can’t exhale,” Hoiberg said. “It’s too important, it’s too big this time of year to have a letdown.”

Nebraska is now 17-1 at home which is the most number of wins in a single season since Pinnacle Bank Arena opened in 2013. The Huskers are on the road at Ohio State and look for the sweep of the Buckeyes next Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.