EVANSTON, ILL. — The pendulum swung hard on Saturday, the Huskers following up a 76-70 win over Iowa with a dud against the last-place Wildcats, falling 62-57 on the road.
Cam Mack sniffed a triple double but fell just short, with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists. But he was 4 of 13 from the floor and 1 of 6 from 3. Haanif Cheatham scored 10 on 12 shots. Nebraska shot just 31% from the floor and made 9 of 30 from deep.
Northwestern had four players in double digits, including Miller Kopp, who scored 15 with 3 3-pointers. Pat Spencer added 14 with 8 rebounds.
Nebraska was down 18 at one point, but hit two 3-pointers from Matej Kavas and Kevin Cross make it 60-54 with 2:26 left in the game. The Huskers had a chance to tie the game in the final minute, but Dachon Burke missed a 3-pointer.
Northwestern did just enough to close out the win, their first since Dec. 15.
Nebraska is now 1-6 in games played away from Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Northwestern came into the game 11th in the Big Ten in 3-point percentage at 31%. Nebraska was tied for first in 3-point defense, keeping teams to 27.9% from behind the arc. The Wildcats had made just 9 3-pointers total in their last 80 minutes of play.
But on its home court, they hit hit 8 in the first 20 against the Huskers to take a 42-27 lead by halftime.
Four Wildcats — Spencer, Kopp, AJ Turner and Robbie Beran — made two or more 3s Saturday. They ended up with a season-high 10.
And as Northwestern built its lead, offensively, the Huskers fell apart, unable to penetrate the lane due to the Wildcats’ length. Without Mack’s usual ability to drive and kick, NU settled settled for low-percentage shots that often drive Fred Hoiberg crazy. One dribble jumpers. Step backs. Contested 3-pointers. That led to two scoring droughts of four minutes or longer in the first half, both which Northwestern took advantage of, rattling of a 12-1 run to take a 14-9 lead, then a 16-1 run to go up 36-22.
Nebraska missed 11 of their final 14 shots of the half, the final attempt an airball by Mack as time expired.
The Huskers were different out of the half, with Mack finally finding some holes in the Northwestern defense. He dropped two assists in the first three minutes to Yvan Ouedraogo and Haanif Cheatham. A circus shot from Thorir Thoarbjarnarson — fading away along the baseline — pulled the 18-point deficit down to eight with 15 minutes left.
Northwestern regressed to the mean, missing five of its first six 3-pointers.
Mack cut backdoor and scored with a foul to slip the Huskers down to 51-42.
Kavas made his first shot attempt from 3 to cut it to 9. Both teams went on scoring droughts, and Kavas’ second 3-pointer cut to nine again at 60-51.
Cross buried his own for 60-54 with 2:26 left, forcing Chris Collins to call a timeout.
Three Wildcats took their spot at the free throw line to close out the game, and all three missed the front end of a 1-and-1.
Mack banked in a 3-pointer with 48 seconds left to pull NU to within three points, forcing another Collins timeout.
Nance missed a 3, which gave the Huskers a shot. Burke’s 3-pointer missed, the comeback fell just short.
» Get the full story later tonight on Omaha.com or in tomorrow's World-Herald.
Meet the 2019-20 Nebraska men's basketball team