HUSKER MEN’S BASKETBALL: Nebraska Falls To No. 18 Auburn

ATLANTA–(NU Athletics Dec. 11)–Extended runs in each half powered 18th-ranked Auburn to a 99-68 victory over the Nebraska men’s basketball team Saturday morning at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. The Tigers used a 13-0 run in the first half and a 14-0 spurt in the second half to win their fifth straight game.

The Huskers had an early one-point lead before Auburn took control with an 18-2 run run over a six-minute stretch midway through the first half, scoring 13 straight points during the run. The Tigers were on top by 17 following the run, and they led by at least 14 the rest of the way. Auburn continued to pull away by scoring 14 straight points during a 16-1 second-half run that put the Tigers on top by 30 with eight minutes to play.

Nebraska (5-6), which was playing without three regular players in its rotation due to injury or illness, lost its fourth straight game, all of which have come to Power Conference opponents. Auburn improved to 8-1 with its fourth straight win by at least 15 points.

Four Huskers scored in double figures, while Derrick Walker posted his second career double-double. Walker was 4-of-4 from the field and 2-of-2 from the line, scoring 10 points and grabbing a game-high 10 rebounds, while tying his season high with four assists. C.J. Wilcher led the Huskers with a career-high 17 points, as he made six of his nine shots, including 4-of-6 from the 3-point line. Alonzo Verge Jr. scored 10 points, had five rebounds and four assists, while Bryce McGowens added 14 points and was 6-of-7 from the free-throw line. As a team, Nebraska was 15-of-17 from the line.

Jabar Smith led five Tigers in double figures with a game-high 21 points, while Wendell Green Jr. added 19 points, six rebounds and six assists.

Turnovers were a problem for Nebraska on Saturday. The Huskers – who entered the game ranked 27th nationally in turnover rate – committed a season-high 20 turnovers which led to a 30-10 advantage for Auburn in points off turnovers. The Tigers also hit a season-high 14 3-pointers, shooting 45.2 percent from beyond the arc and 51.3 percent overall. Nebraska shot 42.6 percent from the game, including 31.8 percent (7-of-22) from 3-point range.

Auburn opened the game with a 3-pointer on two of its first three possessions to grab an early 6-2 lead before a 5-0 spurt gave Nebraska a one-point lead. But it was all Auburn from there as the Tigers outscored Nebraska 22-4 over the next seven minutes to build a 17-point lead.

Auburn had runs of 4-0, 13-0 and 5-0 to take control of the game. The Tigers made eight baskets – including four 3-pointers – during the 22-4 run while Nebraska was in the midst of an eight-minute stretch where it made only one field goal.

Following the run, the teams traded scoring possessions over the three minutes before a 6-0 Auburn spurt put the Tigers on top 42-19. Nebraska outscored Auburn 9-4 over the final three minutes of the half, but the Huskers still trailed 45-28 heading into the locker room.

Nebraska shot just 32 percent from the field (9-of-28) in the first half, including 2-of-10 from the 3-point line. The Huskers limited Auburn to 39.5 percent shooting, but the Tigers knocked down seven 3-pointers and turned nine Nebraska turnovers into 11 points. Nebraska had balanced scoring in the first half, as all five starters had at least three points with Verge, McGowens and Walker all leading the way with six points. But five Tigers had as many as six points, including a pair of bench players with eight points apiece, leading to a 19-3 advantage for Auburn in bench points.

Auburn stretched the lead to 21 early in the second half before Nebraska went on a 7-0 run in less than a minute to trim the lead to 14. But Auburn hit four 3-pointers – including three from Green – to score 14 straight points as part of a larger 16-1 run that pushed the Tiger lead to 78-48 at the eight-minute mark. Auburn then scored the final nine points of the game, as the final margin also marked the Tigers’ largest lead of the game.

After making seven 3-pointers in the first half, Auburn hit seven more 3-pointers in the second half. The Tigers were 22-of-33 overall from the field in the final 20 minutes, shooting 66.7 percent from the field en route to 54 second-half points. Nebraska shot 53.8 percent in the second half, and the Huskers hit five 3-pointers, but turnovers were an issue again as 11 second-half turnovers led to 19 Auburn points.

Nebraska wraps up a five-game stretch against power conference opponents on Sunday, Dec. 19, when the Huskers host Kansas State at 5 p.m. inside Pinnacle Bank Arena.