FORT WORTH, Texas — Finally, Nebraska just couldn’t keep up.
After four wins in five games to extend the season, the Huskers’ year came to a close in the second round of the NIT Sunday night in, a 88-72 loss at TCU.
Desmond Bane scored a team-high 30 points and TCU punished the Huskers with 10 3-pointers and 38 points in the paint.
The formula Nebraska used to upset Maryland and advance past Butler in the first round of the NIT — staying out of foul trouble, making shots, punching back, shutting down stars defensively — just didn’t happen in Texas.
James Palmer missed his first 10 shots and finished with 19 points. Isaiah Roby fouled out after just 16 minutes of playing time. Defensively, NU couldn’t keep track of Bane or JD Miller, who scored 15.
Nebraska’s season came to a close, landing at 19-17 on the year.
And now, the fate of Tim Miles hangs in the balance.
The seventh-year head coach has been on the hot seat all year, and a decision on whether or not athletic director Bill Moos will keep or fire Miles is likely to come in the next few days.
Moos’ only statement on Sunday night was: “Proud of our effort tonight.”
He is expected to make a statement about the season and Miles soon. After Nebraska’s loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament, Moos said in a statement he’d assess Miles’ status after the conclusion of the season
Miles is 116-114 in his seven years at Nebraska, with one NCAA tournament appearance.
“I’m not really in a big, reflective mode right now,” Miles said in his postgame press conference. “When I look at it, I will always ask the same, ‘what would I have done differently. What could I have done differently?’ That starts from last April. I will go all the way back to the late recruiting season. I think every coach does that.”
Last week, a World-Herald source said Moos and Nebraska were trying to replace Miles with former Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg.
Nebraska showed signs of a tired team early, taking quick, bad shots and leaving TCU open on the perimeter. Isaiah Roby picked up his second foul five minutes into the game and made his way to the bench as NU fell behind 10-4.
But an 8-0 run gave Nebraska its first lead of the night at 13-12. Thorir Thorbjarnarson was a spark early, with seven quick points.
Both teams missed a combined 11 straight shots in an ugly first half. TCU found separation off of a 3-pointer from Desmond Bane, his second of the half, to take a 24-19 lead. He scored 10 in the opening 20 minutes.
That sparked what would become a 12-2 TCU run to take control. During that run, Nebraska missed 10 of 12 shots. The NU stars struggled in the first half. James Palmer missed all 10 of his shots and didn’t register a point, while Roby battled three fouls.
Johnny Trueblood, Tanner Borchardt and Thorbjarnarson kept NU in the game, scoring 20 of Nebraska’s 32 first-half points.
A putback at the buzzer from Kouat Noi put TCU up 40-32 at the break.
Palmer came out with three 3-pointers in the opening three minutes. But Bane countered with two 3s of his own, and TCU weathered the early storm, staying ahead 51-43 by the first media timeout.
Roby came back in with Nebraska down 10, but was tossed from the game after a flagrant foul with 12 minutes left. He finished with four points, two rebounds and five fouls in 16 minutes.
From there, things got out of hand.
Kendric Davis made two free throws, then followed that up with a 3-pointer with a foul. That made it 62-49.
The lead extended to 13 after Bane’s fifth 3-pointer of the game. Nebraska never got back under 10 points.
“What we do now is we go home, we go home tomorrow, we take a deep breath, and then we see what’s next for everybody,” assistant Jim Molinari.