LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) For Nebraska, a win never hurt so much and felt so good all at the same time.
Benny Parker’s pull-up jumper gave the Cornhuskers the lead with 1:03 left in the second overtime, and they survived a scrambling finish to defeat Cincinnati 56-55 in what amounted to a Saturday night fight.
The Huskers (6-3) bounced back from a stinging loss to transitioning Division I team Incarnate Word with a bruising victory against a Bearcats team that was playing its first true road game.
Yes, the Huskers will feel this one. Shavon Shields said the game was good preparation for what awaits this season.
”The Big Ten is kind of like that,” Shields said. ”That season gets long. And down the stretch in the Big Ten every game is going to be like that, and you have to be prepared for it.”
Terran Petteway and Shields scored 13 points apiece to lead Nebraska. Troy Caupain had 13 points, six assists and a career-high five steals for the Bearcats (6-2).
Nebraska somehow won after making only four field goals after the 11:54 mark in the second half and committing a season-high 22 turnovers.
”It says a great deal about their toughness and maturity,” coach Tim Miles said. ”We gave one away on Wednesday but, you know what, maybe we don’t win this one if we don’t do that. I’m just so happy for our guys to play our butts off, fight and scrap and hustle and find a way to win.
”It was a rock fight.”
Parker’s winning shot came after Shields had launched an air ball that teammate Tai Webster rebounded. Webster got the ball to Parker, who gave the Huskers a one-point lead.
Cincinnati had a chance to tie or take the lead, but Octavius Ellis missed two free throws with 53.3 seconds left.
After David Rivers missed a shot on the other end, Kevin Johnson missed a 3-pointer and Shields rebounded to secure Nebraska’s first win in three games.
The teams combined for 36 field goals and 40 turnovers. The Huskers shot 33 percent, the Bearcats 32 percent.
Nebraska was 20 of 23 from the foul line and Cincinnati 12 of 24.
”Losing is always painful, but when you have the game won and make a couple dumb defensive plays… the basketball gods get you. The basketball gods got us,” Bearcats coach Mick Cronin said.
Cincinnati had a good opportunity to win it in the first overtime after Jermaine Sanders made the first of two free throws to give the Bearcats a 52-50 lead with 13.7 seconds left. But Sanders foolishly fouled Shields going for the rebound of the missed foul shot, and Shields made both free throws to tie it.
David Rivers blocked Caupain’s shot from under the basket to force the second overtime.
”Nebraska, outside of Louisville, has the best arena I’ve been in,” Cronin said. ”Great home crowd, and obviously they were in desperation mode needing a win tonight. We couldn’t throw it in the ocean from the beach.”
Cincinnati: The Bearcats, who hadn’t played since beating Stony Brook on Dec. 2, missed 13 of their first 15 shots. … Cincinnati has allowed opponents fewer than 70 points in 12 straight games.
Nebraska: Nebraska’s previous high for turnovers was 20 against Omaha. … Walter Pitchford had 10 rebounds to go with nine points.
Cincinnati hosts San Diego State on Wednesday.
Nebraska plays Hawaii on Dec. 22 in the Diamond Head Classic.