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Nebraska Shoots Lights Out, Takes Exhibition Over Buffs

Oct 31, 2021
Nique Clifford finished with 12 points and eight rebounds against Nebraska.

LINCOLN, Neb. - Colorado men's basketball looked forward to its exhibition against Nebraska to gauge where the young Buffaloes were at this point of the preseason and what needed to be worked on. The short answers – a long way to go and little bit of everything.

Nebraska used a barrage of 3-pointers as Colorado struggled on both ends of the court during an 82-67 Huskers win in a charity exhibition men's basketball game Sunday at Pinnacle Arena.

Sophomore Nique Clifford led Colorado with 12 points and eight rebounds, sharing the team lead in both categories. Keeshawn Barthelemy had 12 points while Luke O'Brien pitched in 11. Evan Battey had eight rebounds.

Bryce McGowens led Nebraska with 15 points. Derrick Walker had 12 points and six rebounds.

Nebraska drained 12 3-pointers and hit 44 percent from long range. Colorado struggled to defend the outside shot early, leaving the Huskers with wide open looks.

"They were shooting at a high clip," Clifford said. "We talked before the game and knew they had a lot of shooters and guys that were scorers; they could drive or shoot. Coach talked about it after the game that we have to be able to guard people that can shoot and drive."

Meanwhile, Colorado continued its exhibition season struggle from the 3-point arc. The Buffaloes missed their first eight attempts and finished 3 of 19. Colorado was 2 of 17 in its exhibition against Mines.

Against Mines Colorado made up for their 3-point drought with stout defense and scoring at will in the paint. On Sunday, neither of those materialized.
Colorado had its opportunities. The Buffaloes outrebounded Nebraska by 10 (47-37) and had 23 offensive rebounds, resulting in 19 second chance points. Colorado still scored 36 points in the paint, but overall shot just 32 percent for the game (23 of 71).

"It was a good test for us, it was a good test for them, just to see where we're at," Colorado head coach Tad Boyle said. "And we learned we've got a long way to go both offensively and defensively."

Nebraska led 44-28 at the half. The Buffaloes cut the lead to 13 in the early minutes of the second. Following a Tristan da Silva basket, Barthelemy stole the inbounds pass, scored on a layup, was fouled, and converted a 3-point play cutting the deficit to 46-33.

Colorado missed its next 10 shots while Nebraska ran off 10-straight points to get the lead back over 20. A Trey McGowens 3-pointer gave the Huskers a 56-33 lead with 14:19 left. Nebraska made its next four shots after that, as McGowens connected on a layup to give the Huskers their largest lead at 67-40 with 11:50 remaining.

Colorado fought back though. The Buffaloes twice cut the Nebraska advantage down to 12 in the final five minutes.  The first of those runs came directly after Nebraska had built its biggest lead. After McGowens' layup, Colorado reeled off the next nine points which sparked a 17-2 run. Jabari Walker had six of his eight points during that stretch.

A pair of Battey free throws cut Nebraska's lead to 69-57 with 5:14 left. The Buffaloes got a stop and had two good looks at cutting the lead to single digits. Da Sliva missed a close-in shot, but got the rebound. Battey then had a wide-open look for a 3-point field goal, but it fell short.

Walker scored the next four points to push Nebraska's lead back to 16 at 73-57.

Colorado got the lead back down to 12 a second time as Clifford and da Silva scored consecutive baskets as the Buffaloes trailed 75-63 with 2:25 remaining.

Nebraska was able to respond to every Colorado threat. The Huskers shot 49 percent for the game; 55 percent in the first half alone.

"This is exactly what our team needed right now," Boyle said. "To get smacked in the face like we did and hopefully learn from it, and do something about it as we move forward."

Nebraska jumped out to an early 11-4 lead, making four of its first six shots.

Barthelemy was the early offense for the Buffaloes, scoring the opening bucket off a nice feed from Battey and added four points on free throws.

After Barthelemy's basket, Colorado missed 10 straight shots, spanning 5:06, until Clifford got on the board with a running layup and 3-point opportunity as Nebraska led 16-9.

But the Cornhuskers scored the next 14 points, including 3-pointers off Colorado turnovers on back-to-back possessions. Keisei Tominaga pulled up from 30 feet on transition that gave the Huskers a 24-9 lead forcing a Colorado time out at the 12:47 mark.

It didn't end there. Keon Edwards hit one and then C.J. Wilcher followed with one of his three, first half 3-pointers which gave the Huskers a 30-9 lead. The Buffaloes also hurt themselves with turnovers on five straight possessions during that Nebraska run.

Colorado's best run came in the final four minutes of the first half. Luke O'Brien scored five points, including a baseline 3-pointer off a feed from Barthelemy, and K.J. Simpson hit a runner in the lane to cut the Nebraska lead to 42-28. Walker responded with a bucket to give Nebraska it's 44-28 halftime lead.