MINNEAPOLIS — Nebraska saw a 15-point first-half lead vanish in the second half Tuesday night, but hung on for a 91-85 Big Ten men’s basketball victory over Minnesota.
The conference road win was the fourth of the season for NU (18-8, 9-4). You have to go back 19 years to find that many.
Sophomore forward Isaiah Roby — scoreless in the previous game at Wisconsin — poured in a career-high 21 points and added eight rebounds and five blocked shots. Guard James Palmer had 19 points and nine assists.
Minnesota, which ended the first half on a 13-5 run, scored the first four points of the second half to close to 44-41. Nebraska stretched the lead back out to eight points at 60-52 on a 3-pointer from guard Thomas Allen with 12:34 left.
But the Gophers scored seven points in a row to cut the gap to 60-59 with 10:16 to go. Guard Nate Mason’s 3-pointer capped that surge. Then UM tied it 62-62 with 9:40 left on forward Michael Hurt’s 3-point play.
Nebraska got the lead back on a jumper from forward Isaac Copeland. After a Minnesota miss, Roby led a fast break and drew a foul. Minnesota coach Richard Pitino ripped off his sport coat and tie in protest, earning a technical foul.
Guard Anton Gill hit both free throws, Roby scored on the ensuring possession and guard Evan Taylor finished a fast break with a layup to put the Huskers back up 70-62 with 8:19 to go.
Minnesota never got closer than four points after that. The Gophers got 34 points from Mason and 22 from Jordan Murphy.
In the first half, NU coach Tim Miles called time after Minnesota jumped to a 7-0 lead. Nebraska, playing for the first time in eight days, expected some rust.
Once the first basket went in — a 3-pointer from Copeland — it only took 2½ minutes to take the lead at 11-9 on point guard Glynn Watson’s 3.
Minnesota got the lead back for 23 seconds before Nebraska bounced back to hit six consecutive shots to go up 20-14. The lead was still six when Palmer, who hadn’t scored in the first 12 minutes, scored seven points in a row.
When guard Anton Gill soon added back-to-back baskets, Nebraska led 37-22 with 4:23 to go, and were still up 15 with 3½ minutes left.
Minnesota outscored NU 13-5 from there, with Mason pouring in eight to help the Gophers close to 44-37 at halftime.