MEN'S HOOPS: Lubbock Letdown

By at January 22, 2011 | 11:03 PM | Print

The sure thing was anything but.

Texas Tech, winless in the Big 12 Conference and cruising for a finish in the league cellar, nipped the Nebraska men's basketball team at the wire Saturday night 72-71 after Red Raider D'Walyn Roberts tipped in a Mike Singletary miss with 3.8 seconds left. NU had a chance to answer but point guard Lance Jeter's halfcourt heave missed the rim.

Roberts' putback was one of 12 offensive rebounds and 2 of 17 second-chance points for Tech, a small team that outhustled and outmuscled the Huskers for loose balls, pounded them on the boards 36-25, and hit 52 percent of its shots to boot.

In front of a sparse crowd at United Spirit Arena, the Red Raiders (9-11 and 1-4 in the Big 12) coaxed NU (14-5 and 2-3) in a loose, fast-tempo, sloppy game full of fouls (43), turnovers (31) and 3-point attempts (33). Tech guard John Roberson hit 7 treys and scored 25 points. Singletary added 14 points and 7 rebounds. Despite having little size to combat NU's tall front line of Jorge Brian Diaz, Andre Almeida and Brandon Ubel, Texas Tech repeatedly reached over and through them for boards.

Diaz and Almeida, both 6-11, combined for just two rebounds. The 6-10 Ubel had five rebounds, but fouled out after just 19 minutes. Their lack of production negated strong nights from Brandon Richardson (20 points) and Jeter (19 points).

Richardson, playing 30 minutes and his best game of a injury-plagued season, atoned for the crucial free throw he missed in last week's loss to Kansas. With NU trailing 70-68, Richardson was fouled attempting a 3-pointer. He nailed all three free throws to give NU a 71-70 lead with 12 seconds left in the game.

Singletary then took the ball in the backcourt, drove into the paint, and flipped a shot off the rim. Because Nebraska head coach Doc Sadler had removed his tallest players from the floor during the previous possession – and failed to put them back in after Richardson made his second free throw – Tech's Roberts had no problem knifing in for an easy tip-in.

It was the story of the night for the Huskers, who looked a step slow on defense and impatient on offense – hardly the guys who dismantled Colorado four nights previous.

Although they made their share of 3-pointers – 6 of 16 – and hit 19-of-26 free throws – they also rushed many second-half possessions, especially during a key four-minute stretch when a 62-57 lead turned into a 67-63 deficit. A series of Red Raider mistakes – Roberson dribbled the ball off his foot, Singletary missed several free throws – let Nebraska back in the game through the buzzer.

The game featured 22 ties or lead changes. Close from tip to horn.

NU now has a week before its next game with Texas A&M, which should still be ranked inside the top 20 after a win over Kansas State Saturday. The Huskers had hoped to use that game as a springboard to a run at a NCAA Tournament berth. It appears more like a final stand now.

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