Nebraska’s 53-51 victory against Minnesota featured a court storm, the head coach grabbing the public-address microphone to thank the fans, and students lifting Husker players on their shoulders at midcourt.
What better ending to the final Nebraska basketball game played at the Devaney Sports Center?
“That was amazing,” said senior Brandon Ubel, one of the players hoisted by the throng of students. “That was surreal. I just looked up in the air, closed my eyes and just kind of soaked it all in. It was so awesome.”
Senior Dylan Talley also got a bodysurfing ride. But no such luck for 6-foot-11, 340-pound senior Andre Almeida.
“I would’ve held him up, man,” Ubel said. “He played awesome tonight. I mean, he was huge for us. He’s struggled a little bit down the stretch for us, but he stepped up for us big-time tonight.”
All three of Nebraska’s seniors — on Senior Night, no less — helped the Huskers send the Devaney Center out in style in front of 12,781 fans.
Nebraska (14-16, 5-12 Big Ten Conference) never trailed against a Minnesota team that defeated the Huskers by 19 points in January.
The game was tied six times, including once in the second half, at 46-46 with 2:21 remaining. That’s when Ubel, who scored all of his game-high 15 points after halftime, went to work. Behind a big — and we do mean big — seal by Almeida in the lane, Ubel drove through the paint, made a layup and drew a foul.
That three-point play, which gave Nebraska the lead for good with 2:08 remaining, was a carbon copy of Ubel’s three-point play only a minute earlier.
“He’s the reason I scored those buckets,” Ubel said of Almeida. “That’s how the play’s set up. He seals them out, and if I think he’s open, I can get it to him, or I can drive the seal. He did a great job.”
Almeida and Ubel each rebounded a missed Andre Hollins three-pointer on each of the Gophers’ next two possessions, and Ubel sealed the victory by going 4-of-4 at the foul line during the final 14 seconds.
The Huskers needed every one of them, as Hollins made two three-pointers in that time, including one at the buzzer.
Almeida, who hadn’t played in Nebraska’s last two games, and hadn't scored since Nebraska’s Feb. 9 victory against Penn State, had four points, five rebounds and three blocked shots. He was key off the bench as Nebraska battled foul trouble all night.
“I didn’t say a word to Andre,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. “I think he just rose to the occasion, and it’s pretty cool stuff.”
Talley finished with 12 points and three assists in his final home game.
Nebraska associate athletic director Marc Boehm gave Miles a game ball and told him to present it to a player he felt deserving.
“It’s got to go to those three seniors,” Miles said. “I said, ‘We’re going to paint this ball, last game at Devaney, put your guys’ name on it, because you deserved it.’”
NEBRASKA 53, MINNESOTA 51
Three-pointers--3-13 (Williams 0-2, Au. Hollins 0-2, An. Hollins 3-8, Ahanmisi 0-1). Field-goal percentage--38.0. Free-throw percentage--50.0. Total fouls--18. Fouled out--none. Assists--7 (Welch, An. Hollins 2). Turnovers--9. Steals--1 (Mbakwe 1). Blocked shots--9 (Ingram, Eliason 3).
Three-pointers--5-15 (Ubel 1-2, Shields 0-2, Rivers 0-1, Gallegos 2-5, Talley 2-5). Field-goal percentage--35.6. Free-throw percentage--80.0. Total fouls--22. Fouled out--Shields, Rivers. Assists--11 (Ubel 4). Turnovers--10. Steals--4 (Shields 2). Blocked shots--5 (Almeida 3) A--12,781.