Minneapolis, Minn. - Despite a game-high 23 points from Bo Spencer, the Nebraska men's basketball team fell at Minnesota, 81-69, Saturday afternoon at Williams Arena.
Spencer scored all 23 of his points in the second half, including 7-of-12 from 3-point range, to pace three Huskers in double figures, but Minnesota (18-13, 6-12 Big Ten) used a balanced offense and timely 3-point shooting in the first half to snap a six-game losing streak.
Dylan Talley came off the bench to score 16 points and dish out five assists, while Toney McCray added 14 points, as Nebraska hit a season-high 13 3-pointers in a losing effort after making just six 3-pointers in the last two games.
Chip Armelin came off the bench to pace five Gophers in double figures, as he scored 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds, while Rodney Williams added 16 points and eight rebounds as Minnesota earned the No. 10 seed in next week's Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis. Minnesota shot 54 percent from the field, including 10-of-22 from 3-point range, to pick up their first win since Feb. 5.
The Huskers (12-17, 4-14 Big Ten) are the 11th seed in the Big Ten Tournament and will face Purdue on Thursday evening at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Both teams shot well in a high-paced first half, as Minnesota took a 38-30 lead to the locker room. Nebraska shot 52 percent from the floor, while the Gophers hit 48 percent, but went 7-of-14 from long range. Both teams got strong efforts from the bench, as Talley paced Nebraska with 11 first-half points, while Armelin had 11 off the bench for the hosts, including a trio of 3-pointers.
Nebraska got off to a hot start from the floor, hitting seven of its first 10 shots from the floor and used a 7-0 run to take a 20-14 lead after a Toney McCray basket, before the Gophers started connecting from long range as a part of a 18-2 spurt that stretched over the next seven minutes. A 3-pointer from Armelin and a four-point play from Austin Hollins gave the Gophers the lead. Talley's basket put the Huskers up 22-21, but Armelin hit consecutive 3-pointers as part of a 13-0 run that put Minnesota ahead 34-22 after a conventional three-point play from Ralph Sampson III.
The Huskers began to chip away, using an 8-2 run of their own to get within 36-30 on Talley's third 3-pointer of the half, but Armelin hit two free throws with a second left to stake the Gophers an eight-point halftime lead.
Minnesota built a 44-33 lead after Williams' 3-point play with 19:05 left before Spencer, who was saddled with foul trouble during the first half, connected on two straight from long range, pulling Nebraska within 44-39. The Huskers hit their first three shots from 3-point range in the second half and eventually pulled to within 45-41 on a Spencer basket, as the senior scored eight straight points for the Huskers.
Nebraska pulled within 45-43 after Richardson hit two shots after an intentional foul and had a chance to tie on the next possession, but could not get closer as Sampson's 3-point play started a 9-0 run for the Gophers that extended their lead to 54-43 after an Armelin basket.
Nebraska, which went a stretch of 8:30 without a field goal, broke the spell as Talley's 3-pointer pulled the Huskers within 60-50 with 7:47 left. NU was within 63-52, but Minnesota used an 8-0 run to take its largest lead at the time at 71-54 on a Joe Coleman layup with 4:21 left.
Nebraska made one last run, as consecutive 3-pointers from Spencer made it 71-60 and forced a Gopher timeout, but Armelin found a hole in the Husker defense for a short jumper to ignite a 6-0 run to give Minnesota a 17-point margin.
The Huskers will head to Indianapolis for next week's Big Ten Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Huskers will not know their seed for the tournament until the results of tomorrow's games are completed. Check Huskers.com tomorrow for updated bracket and schedule information.
*-Bo Spencer led Nebraska with 23 points, his eighth 20-point game of the season. It is the most 20-point games by a Husker since Aleks Maric had 12 20-point games in 2006-07
*-Spencer's seven 3-pointers was one of Nebraska's single-game record (Cary Cochran, vs. Baylor on Feb. 27, 2002) and the most since Marcus Perry hit seven against Oklahoma State on March 5, 2007.
*-Nebraska hit a season-high 13 3-point shots at Minnesota, topping its previous high of 11 set at Northwestern on Feb. 2. Nebraska's 13 3-pointers is the Huskers' highest total since hitting 14 at Kansas State on Feb. 17, 2010,
*-Nebraska is 0-4 when an opponent scores 80 points this season.
*-Minnesota entered the game 11th in the Big Ten with 5.1 3-pointers per game, but finished with 10, including seven in the first half.
*-Minnesota had five players in double figures, the second time this year an opponent has done that against the Huskers.
*-Chip Armelin had career highs in both games against Nebraska as he had 15 points in the first meeting.
*-Toney McCray reached double figures for the 14th time this year and first since Feb. 5, as he finished with 14 points.
*-Dylan Talley's 16-point effort was his highest point total since scoring a season-high 18 points against Oregon on Nov. 23. Talley also tied a career high with five assists. He was 5-for-10 from the field after going 2-for-10 in his last two games prior to today.
*-Caleb Walker set a career high with six assists in a losing effort.