Category Archives: Huskers News

Tim Miles comfortable with direction of Nebraska basketball, but ‘can’t prove it with a winning record’

LINCOLN — Nebraska coach Tim Miles opened his standard day-before-a-game press gathering Wednesday by proclaiming his commitment to the men’s basketball program.

Questions have arisen recently on the coach’s radio show, on social media and in a column in Wednesday’s World-Herald about his job status as he finishes his fifth season for his bosses, Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst and basketball overseer Marc Boehm.

“I want to be forceful that I want to be the coach here,” Miles said. “I believe Shawn wants me to be the coach here. I believe Marc does.”

Miles said he has a good relationship with his bosses, whom he described as “encouraging and positive.”

Last August, Eichorst declined to give Miles a one-year contract extension to keep his overall deal at five years, which is the industry standard for most power conferences. That has led to seven months of speculation about Miles’ future and negative talk on the recruiting trail.

Miles thanked Eichorst for allowing him to add a staff member and for an increase in the recruiting budget.

“I feel really comfortable about the direction we’re going,” Miles said. “I know some fans are a little bit unhappy with the management of the results. I can find a lot of different reasons to tell you we’re on the right track. But I can’t prove it with a winning record.”

Nebraska is 12-14 entering Thursday’s game at Michigan State. In five years, Miles’ record is 75-81 overall.

“I don’t want to be .500,” he said. “I don’t think anyone wants to be .500. We want excellence, and I schedule for excellence. I don’t schedule for the NIT or for wins. Our standard every year is to make the NCAA tournament, and win when we get there.”

Nebraska’s strength of schedule this season was No. 2 nationally entering this week as calculated by the NCAA.

Nebraska baseball thirsts for full slate after a lost weekend in the desert

LINCOLN — Jake Meyers spent much of last weekend doing homework and catching up on Netflix. In that order, he said with a smile.

No, Nebraska’s season-opening baseball trip wasn’t what the junior or his teammates had in mind. Instead of four games against UC Riverside in Tempe, Arizona, the Huskers split a Friday doubleheader before weather washed out contests Saturday and Sunday.

Players went through mental reps and worked in the batting cage Saturday. NU ended up taking the day off Sunday — visiting a mall and waiting for the plane — and came back with a light Monday practice.

The canceled games cost Nebraska (1-1) a chance to see more of its roster in action, coach Darin Erstad said. But there’s no time to dwell on what might have been. Not with two games each against No. 8 Oregon State (4-0) and Utah (2-1) as part of the Big Ten-Pac-12 Challenge across four days at Surprise Stadium in Surprise, Arizona.

“Those are the kind of teams we’re going to have to beat if we want to go where we want to go,” Erstad said. “Obviously quality programs. … Great baseball. It’s a great opportunity for us.”

Added Meyers: “We’re excited for this weekend. We didn’t get to play our last two games, so it’s game on now.”

Matt Waldron will throw Thursday against Oregon State and Meyers will make his mound debut Saturday against the Beavers, who are tied for eighth nationally with an 0.75 ERA through their first four games. OSU hasn’t announced its rotation for the weekend, but begins with reigning Pac-12 pitcher of the week Luke Heimlich (11 strikeouts in 52⁄3 shutout innings against Indiana last Friday) atop a deep staff.

The Oregon State games might be higher profile, but Nebraska should learn more about its own pitching depth against defending Pac-12 champion Utah. Derek Burkamper — a weekend starter last year who went 6-3 with a 3.09 ERA — takes the ball in a game for the first time since feeling shoulder tightness in the spring. Erstad said it’s likely the right-handed senior will operate with a pitch limit in the 50s as he continues to build arm strength.

Junior righty Jake Hohensee draws the Sunday nod opposite the Utes, marking his first start since the 2014 season. He pitched 171⁄3 innings across 12 relief appearances two years ago (1-0, 2.08 ERA) before undergoing Tommy John surgery and missing all of last spring. The Lincoln East grad will go after sitting out the first five games for violating team rules a season ago.

“Both of them are just itching to get out on the field again,” Meyers said. “I saw a lot of excitement between those two, so I’m excited to see them get back on the mound and compete like they do. I know they’ll compete; it’s just going to be a lot of fun to watch.”

Notes

» The Huskers heard their share of jokes last weekend from supporters at home basking in sunny weather while NU battled storms in Arizona. Sunshine and temperatures in the 70s greeted the team as it loaded the bus Wednesday afternoon at Haymarket Park.

“It’s a little too hot to play here, so we need to go somewhere else where it’s a little cooler,” Darin Erstad said. “It’s crazy. I mean, it’s warmer here than it is in Arizona.”

» Nebraska closer Chad Luensmann threw 56 pitches across three innings in a one-run win over UC Riverside last weekend. Erstad said the 2016 Big Ten freshman of the year will fill whatever role the Huskers need — whether that’s starting, in long relief or finishing games.

“The best way I can put it is we’re going to maximize Chad,” Erstad said. “He’s our best pitcher, he’s got some of the biggest outs for us and we’re going to find a position to use him efficiently, effectively, and maximize what he can bring to the table.”

Luensmann allowed five hits, three walks and a pair of earned runs in his debut. His stat line last year featured a 1.18 ERA in 38 total innings.

» True freshmen Mojo Hagge (outfield), Luke Roskam (third base) and Paul Tillotson (starting pitcher) made their college debuts last week along with redshirt freshman Ben Klenke (right field).

Hagge, an Omaha Skutt graduate, made the most of his chance by going 2 for 3 with a double and a walk. Erstad said competition will continue to play out in the upcoming four-game series.

“We didn’t get everybody in there we wanted to (against UC Riverside), but you’ll see some more new faces (Thursday),” Erstad said. “And we’ll hopefully get some other guys in there throughout the weekend.”

» Nebraska is looking at possibly adding a midweek game to its schedule to make up for the cancellations. Erstad said the team is looking into options, including “working through” whether it would be productive to the Huskers’ RPI.

» Surprise Stadium is the spring training home of the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals. … Oregon State holds the all-time series lead on Nebraska 2-1, though NU won the most recent game 9-2 in 2014. The Huskers hold a 4-2 all-time edge on the Utes, most recently meeting them in 2014.

Nebraska rifle team will compete in NCAA championships

The NCAA announced Wednesday that the Nebraska rifle team has qualified for the NCAA championships.

The Huskers have advanced for the fifth consecutive year.

Nebraska has two top-five finishes in the last four years, including a fourth-place finish and the individual smallbore champion (Rachel Martin) in 2015.

The Huskers are the eighth seed. Other qualifying teams include No. 1 West Virginia, No. 2 TCU, No. 3 Murray State, No. 4 Air Force, No. 5 Alaska-Fairbanks, No. 6 Kentucky and No. 7 Ohio State.

This year, the NCAA championships are March 10 and 11 in Columbus, Ohio.

Nebraska assistant Keith Williams sentenced to 30 days in jail after pleading no contest to third-offense DUI

Nebraska receivers coach Keith Williams on Wednesday pleaded no contest to third-offense DUI, a misdemeanor offense stemming from a August 2016 arrest. Prosecutors dropped a second charge of reckless driving.

Williams, who has two prior DUI convictions in California, received a sentence of 36 months probation, 30 days in jail, a $1,000 fine and a five-year revocation of his driver’s license — although Williams can apply for an interlock ignition device after 45 days. Lancaster County judge Thomas Zimmerman also will allow Williams to apply for house arrest for those 30 days in jail as opposed to spending at least some of it in lockup.

Williams’ lawyer, John Ball, said the judge was fair, given all of the work Williams has done between the time of the arrest and his plea on Wednesday.

“It’s not just a matter of going through the motions, it’s not just a matter of completing the testing and diagnostics, it’s the level of commitment that Mr. Williams has shown to that,”Ball said during the hearing. “And perhaps even more important than that was what he was able to do in this terrible situation for himself and turn it into a positive teaching moment for himself, for his children, for his players. He really took this and made everyone aware of the dangers of the situation and how to get through it.”

Williams, in a brief statement during the hearing, said he’d learned from the arrest and wanted to make it “a teaching moment for myself and my family.” He did not comment after sentencing.

Zimmerman said probation was in Williams’ best interest and the best interest of his family and Husker football players.

Near the end of the hearing, Zimmerman praised Williams’ role as a coach.

“Mr. Williams, you’ve really taken this town by storm,” Zimmerman said.

Mike Schaefer Talks Husker Recruiting with Sertoma Club

COLUMBUS – Columbus High graduate and current 24/7 Sports Recruiting Analyst Mike Schaefer stopped by his former hometown to talk Husker football with the Sertoma Club.

Schaefer says he enjoys the experience of being able to return to Columbus and speak with service clubs that helped him with scholarships when he was going into college.

“It’s not nearly the work that the Sertoma or all these other clubs do, but it’s just an opportunity to try and give back a little bit, and helps me with my public speaking. So that’s always nice. And it’s just fun. It’s familiar faces, and people you knew, and its just a good opportunity,” says Schaefer.

Schaefer says there is going to be a lot of competition with the new players that are being asked to step up, but says the quarterback race is one that a lot of people will have their eyes on.

“You need guys like J.D. Spielman to emerge, you need De’Mornay Pierson-El to be healthy and to be a playmaker, you know if Stanley Morgan can make the jump and be a number one wide receiver. All those kinds of things can really help out incoming quarterbacks like that, with Tanner Lee and Patrick O’brien, but it’s going to be a fun spring just to kind of watch that competition,” says Schaefer.

As a writer for 24/7 sports, Schaefer has a heavy focus on Husker Football recruiting, and spoke with Sertoma members about the incoming class. Schaefer says that Nebraska was hoping to finish higher in their final draft class ranking, but says the combination of the 2016 and 2017 classes meshes well.

“They compliment each other really well, in 2016 they added several offensive lineman that I think could be starters her in this 2017 season, and in the 2017 class I think the strength is on their defensive line, and I think they have guys that are going to be playing as Freshman on that defensive line as Nebraska kind of overhauls our defense,” says Schaefer.

You can watch the full interview with Schafer below.

 

 

After learning from John Cook, many former Nebraska assistants have gone on to lead their own programs

LINCOLN — As John Cook continues searching for his newest assistant coach, the man in charge of Nebraska volleyball has one big selling point: Being a Husker assistant often leads to a head coaching job.

Cook, however, said he usually doesn’t verbalize that part of his recruiting pitch. He doesn’t have to. After both of Cook’s assistants from last year’s team got head coaching jobs in the offseason, the results speak for themselves.

“They all know our track record and what’s been coming out of here,” Cook said. “It’s just the reputation that Nebraska volleyball has.

“The best job they’ll ever have is being an assistant at Nebraska.”

With Dani Busboom Kelly (Louisville) and Chris Tamas (Illinois) both taking over their own programs since the 2016 season ended, seven of Cook’s former assistants have gone on to become head coaches. Several of them told The World-Herald that the popularity — and resulting scrutiny — of NU volleyball provides a unique training ground for assistants with head coaching aspirations. And that learning from Cook’s detailed focus on the top-to-bottom aspects of running a program is a big plus, too.

“John puts a lot of pride into the program, and you see that every day,” Tamas said. “He’s constantly thinking of how to get better, how to improve the program and how to dream big about everything.”

Said Busboom Kelly: “It’s a great place to learn because John does a great job of running a program and managing people. It’s a program with a ton of success.”

The success is something other athletic directors believe is portable. Before Busboom Kelly and Tamas were wooed with head coaching jobs, five other NU assistants were hired to run programs — Craig Skinner (Kentucky, 2004-present), Lee Maes (Virginia, 2008-11), Lizzy Stemke (Georgia, 2011-16), Dan Conners (UC Davis, 2014-present) and Dan Meske (Augustana, 2015-16). Meske recently left Augustana to join Busboom Kelly’s staff at Louisville.

The Cook coaching tree extends further to recent graduate and volunteer assistants who have gone on to full-time jobs. NU’s past two video coordinators, Nate Ngo and Natalie Morgan, have been hired by the U.S. men’s national team and Loyola Marymount, respectively. Former graduate assistants Peter Netisingha (Illinois State) and Ryan Walthall (Penn State men’s program) also are now full-time assistants.

Many of college volleyball’s top programs feature longtime assistants who have rejected overtures for head coaching jobs. Cook said there’s value in that stability, but he’s drawn to assistants who want to one day run their own programs. To that end, Cook delegates responsibilities that his assistants will need as head coaches, embraces that ambition and will counsel members of his staff on how to evaluate head coaching opportunities.

“I ask for a three-year commitment,” Cook said, “and after that, I’ll help them get any job they want.

“I like being around driven people who are dreaming big and they want to aspire to be a leader of their program.”

People like Skinner, who was open about his head coaching goals when Cook approached him about an assistant job in 2000. Skinner had previously worked under Cook at Wisconsin in the 1990s, but had left the coaching profession before being coaxed to join Cook’s first staff in Lincoln.

Skinner became part of the staff that led Nebraska to a 34-0 record and the 2000 NCAA title. He said he interviewed for several head coaching jobs while at Nebraska, including at two of NU’s former Big 12 rivals. But being on the Husker staff gave him the flexibility to wait for the right opportunity. In 2004, he took over at Kentucky, where he has led the Wildcats to 12 straight NCAA tournament appearances.

“If it wasn’t for John to give me that second opportunity to come back and join him, I probably wouldn’t be here,” Skinner said. “I owe him a lot.”

Cook’s two most recent assistants-turned-head coaches said they quickly gained new perspectives that come with becoming a head coach. In her years as an assistant, Busboom Kelly said, she always paid attention to Cook’s locker room speeches to file them away for when she was the one in the middle of the huddle.

But as a head coach, she recognized the steps that lead up to game day, the hard work of offseason preparation, are the building blocks of success.

“When I got here, I realized more why John is so involved with strength and conditioning and athletic training,” Busboom Kelly said. “When it’s your program, those things are more important.”

There are also new responsibilities head coaches inherit like overseeing a player’s academics, promoting the program to raise interest, managing staff chemistry, building relationships with administrators and handling media commitments.

Every detail matters when you’re the head coach. After all, wins and losses don’t go under an assistant’s name.

“As a head coach, you’re thinking about everything,” Cook said. “You never just go home and shut it off. You’re thinking about every aspect.”

What’s the catch? Husker quarterback Tommy Armstrong works at receiver ahead
 of pro day

LINCOLN — Tommy Armstrong was always going through the quarterback drills during Nebraska practices, but Keith Williams would notice from time to time just how naturally Armstrong would handle the football or catch it when thrown his way.

Come see me, the Husker receivers coach would tell Armstrong, if you’re ever inclined to try something else.

Armstrong did just that as he was mending an injured hamstring, and Williams is getting a longer look the last few weeks at what Armstrong can do as he puts his mind to it.

“He’s definitely athletic enough and he can catch really well,” Williams said. “I’m surprised how fluid he was as a hand-catcher — very natural at that. Quarterbacks usually have good hand-eye coordination and good hands, but it surprised me in terms of catching passes.

“He’s all-in. Coachable, attentive, asks questions, understands concepts. He’s been great.”

Armstrong started 44 games at quarterback during his Nebraska career. Accounted for 10,690 total yards and 91 career touchdowns, both Husker records. Rarely missed a snap until the final stretch of his senior year, including the Music City Bowl.

But Armstrong also was realistic about his future, and thought receiver might provide a better opportunity to play at the next level.

So that mostly has dominated his focus since he got his hamstring right, and NU pro day on March 14 will be the first chance to show NFL personnel what he has to offer.

“I’ve embraced it,” Armstrong said. “I understand that some people say it’s going to be hard, but I’m up for it. Something I’ve had to do my whole life is prove to people that I can do certain things. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing, but you make yourself coachable and things fall in place.

“The only feedback I have right now is from Coach Dub, but just hearing things from him like, ‘Hey, you might have a chance, you’re doing great’ — and knowing the receivers that he’s worked with — it drives me to work harder every day.”

Williams has been going to the field every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday around the lunch hour to put Armstrong and Brandon Reilly through drills, usually for about 60 to 90 minutes. That follows Armstrong spending the mornings in the Osborne Complex weight room with Reilly and former NU tight ends Trey Foster and Sam Cotton.

Armstrong said he was looking forward to spending some time this week with Kenny Bell, who is among former Huskers returning for the Team Jack Gala on Saturday night. And Armstrong also expects to work with Jordan Westerkamp as it gets closer to pro day.

Along the way, Armstrong has dropped about 14 pounds from his quarterback weight, and now goes about 215. He also has studied some tape of Braxton Miller, who moved from quarterback to receiver before his final season at Ohio State, then caught 15 passes during his NFL rookie year with Houston.

Williams said Armstrong isn’t a blazer, but has good enough speed. And Armstrong obviously knows how to run with the football and take hits after having well over 2,000 yards in positive rushing gains as a Husker.

What Armstrong knows NFL scouts will study is where he is with the finer points of a new position.

“Like Coach Dub always tells me, people understand I’m an athlete, that I’m able to do certain things, and they’re looking for technique,” he said. “Most people go out there and try to run routes as hard as they can, and don’t understand people don’t look at it like that. Can you get out of a break fast? Can you catch the ball the right way? But he says they might be surprised how well a quarterback catches the ball.”

It’s not all totally new to him.

Armstrong played some receiver and linebacker in high school before becoming a full-time quarterback, just to get on the field. Even at NU he would spend time catching balls from the JUGS machine, or just throw-backs from Westerkamp and other receivers during offseason workouts.

Armstrong expects to test well in the pro agility run and vertical jump at pro day. He has increased his bench-press reps of 225 pounds from 10 to 15, and wants to reach 18. He wouldn’t say what he expects for a 40-yard dash time, but knows it will be a topic of conversation.

In order to keep all his options open, Armstrong plans to also be prepared for drills at quarterback or running back, whether that’s at pro day or future individual workouts. Some of that will depend on what his agent, Chris Gittings, hears from teams, whether it’s NFL, CFL or elsewhere.

At receiver, Williams said, Armstrong still needs work on his body movements, function of routes and muscle memory. All things that come with time and experience.

Armstrong benefits not only from what Williams verbalizes but from watching Reilly carry it out, and Armstrong said he appreciates Williams both seeing the potential in him and being willing to help bring it out.

“It’s certain things people do for others that they never forget, and that’s one thing I’ll never forget about Coach Dub,” Armstrong said. “I’m excited about going out and learning from him. It’s the reason so many guys come back. I’m blessed to have him.”

It’s been a two-way street for Williams, and another test of his own coaching.

“Any time I work with guys who want to work hard and get better, it’s enjoyable for me,” he said. “And it’s been enjoyable to me, because I know it’s a big challenge to him and he’s up to it, and he’s working hard at it.”

Husker women knock off Indiana behind 18 points from freshman Hannah Whitish

LINCOLN — When Indiana’s last-ditch shot went wayward and the final horn sounded, Nebraska women’s coach Amy Williams crouched near midcourt in a double-fisted celebration. Her team had just broken an eight-game losing streak.

“Relief,” Williams said she felt in that moment. Relief for her players, Williams added. But a 67-64 upset of Indiana will probably provide the coach with some relief, too.

This long, uphill climb of a season will have at least one silver lining game. Indiana is a team on the NCAA tournament bubble, so it had plenty on the line Sunday. In their own way, the Huskers did, too.

“Losing gets old,” said senior center Allie Havers, who has won a lot of games in her career. As a freshman, she played on a Big Ten title team. Now, with Senior Day on the doorstep, she and her teammates are playing mostly for pride and the prospect of incremental improvement.

NU had plenty of both Sunday. Havers noted an extra dose of “get after it.”

“I’m probably not going to forget this and not just because we won. If we would have lost this game by one point, two points, I still would have remembered it, because I haven’t seen this team fight this hard all year,” Havers said.

The Huskers (6-20, 2-12 Big Ten) won the rebounding battle 34-32. They had 18 assists — six more than Indiana. They had four scorers in double figures — Havers (13 points), sophomore Jessica Shepard (14), and freshmen Hannah Whitish (18) and Nicea Eliely (13). And, when Nebraska needed to close out the win, it had two perfectly executed plays against Indiana’s full-court pressure. Havers had layups with 25 and seven seconds left in the game to twice extend NU’s lead from one to three points.

Along with the 4,981 at Pinnacle Bank Arena — who gave NU more than one standing ovation during the game — Havers eagerly awaited the passes as she stood under the hoop, all alone, forgotten by IU’s defenders.

“She’s kind of doing jumping jacks,” Williams said. “I didn’t really know whether our freshman guards would have the recognition to see her open or the confidence to be able to make that pass and deliver it at that point in the game.”

But they did, and Indiana guard Tyra Buss missed two 3-pointers in the final seven seconds. The Hoosiers (18-9, 8-6) made 7 of 27 3-pointers, including 4 of 15 in the first half.

“I thought we did settle, though, especially in the first half,” Indiana coach Teri Moren said. “We kind of fell in love with (3s).”

Nebraska did, too, but it made 10 of 25. None was bigger than Whitish’s 3-pointer with 1:36 left that gave NU a 61-58 lead. Williams said she and her assistants have been prodding Whitish to shoot more.

“Nine times out of 10, she probably turns that shot down before now,” Williams said.

Whitish also hit a 15-foot jumper with 1:03 left to give NU the lead for good at 63-61. Williams said Whitish played with “confidence” and “poise.”

The seeds of NU’s upset were sown in the opening minutes, when Nebraska started the game with a 10-0 run. Whitish scored six of those points.

The Huskers’ lead grew to 22-10 before the Hoosiers went on an 11-0 run. Nebraska led 31-30 at halftime.

In the second half, Indiana took a 46-39 lead, but Nebraska responded with a 10-2 run to end the third quarter with a 49-48 advantage. In the fourth, IU led 50-49 and 57-56, but Nebraska consistently answered.

The game — a strong Sunday afternoon crowd in late February, the clutch shots — felt a lot like the last decade of Nebraska women’s basketball. The old era.

In this new era, Williams said, it’s important players — especially young ones like Whitish and Eliely — see the fruits from a long season of labor.

“You just kind of need to see that checkmark in the win column in order to validate what we’ve been trying to preach and what they’ve been buying into,” Williams said.

Indiana (18-9, 8-6) ……………….  8 22 18 16—64

At Nebraska (6-20, 2-12) ……… 17 14 18 18—67

IU: Cahill 5-14 2-2 14, Anderson 2-4 0-0 4, Buss 6-16 4-6 16, Gassion 5-13 2-3 12, McBride 4-9 0-0 12, Foresman 0-1 0-0 0, Royster 0-0 0-0 0, Wickware 0-1 1-2 1, Elbert 0-0 0-0 0, Gulley 2-3 0-0 5, Towner 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 24-61 9-13 64.

NU: Shepard 5-14 2-4 14, Havers 6-10 1-1 13, Cincore 2-6 0-0 4, Eliely 5-8 0-0 13, Whitish 7-10 0-0 18, Cascio Jensen 1-2 0-0 3, Mitchell 1-2 0-0 2, Ramacieri 0-0 0-0 0, Simon 0-1 0-0 0, Wood 0-2 0-0 0, Totals 27-55 3-5 67.

3-point goals: IU 7-27 (Cahill 2-7, Buss 0-7, Gassion 0-1, McBride 4-8, Foresman 0-1, Wickware 0-1, Gulley 1-2), NU 10-25 (Shepard 2-5, Havers 0-2, Cincore 0-4, Eliely 3-4, Whitish 4-6, Cascio Jensen 1-2, Wood 0-2). Assists: IU 12 (Buss 6), NU 18 (Eliely 6). Fouled out: None. Rebounds: IU 32 (Cahill 11), NU 34 (Havers 8). Total fouls: IU 14, NU 17. Att.: 4,981.

NU falls to another ranked foe — this time No. 3 Florida State — drop to 0-8

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Nebraska ended the second weekend of the season without a win as the Huskers dropped an 8-0 decision to No. 3 Florida State in the final game of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

All-America pitcher Jessica Burroughs tossed five scoreless innings while Alex Powers, another FSU All-American, was 4 for 4 with three doubles and four RBIs for the Seminoles (10-0).

Burroughs gave up one hit and one walk to go with eight strikeouts. Cassie McClure took the loss for the Huskers (0-8) and also had NU’s only hit and also a the walk.

The Huskers next tournament begins Friday in Palm Springs, California, with games against Tennessee, California, Missouri and Oregon State in the Nutter Classic.

Florida State (10-0) …… 102 020 3—8 12 1

Nebraska (0-8) …………… 000 000 0—0  1 0

W: Burroughs, 5-0. L: McClure, 0-3. 2B: FSU, Cooper, Powers 3, Broderick. HR: FSU, Harrod.

Glynn Watson helps Huskers avenge heartbreaking loss, earn first victory in Columbus

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Consider any debts of Nebraska guard Glynn Watson paid in full after he produced the winning three-point play Saturday night with 11.3 seconds left in the Huskers’ 58-57 victory over Ohio State.

One month earlier in Lincoln against OSU, the sophomore guard slipped and fell on defense, allowing the Buckeyes to pull out a one-point victory on a wide-open layup with 0.6 seconds left.

This time, Watson provided the crucial play to give Nebraska just its second lead of the game. The other was at 5-3 in the first four minutes.

Watson told reporters his thought when Ohio State tried a potential game-winning shot with two seconds left was, “Not again, not again, not again.’’

So did this outcome make things even?

“No,’’ Watson said. “We should have won that one, too.”

The Huskers (12-14, 6-8) moved from 10th place in the 14-team Big Ten to a three-way tie for eighth with Iowa and Penn State with four games to play. It was Nebraska’s first win ever in Columbus in eight tries.

“A thing of beauty, wasn’t it?’’ NU coach Tim Miles joked on the Husker Radio Network. “At the end, it was. The same thing with the guys all year: They showed a lot of resolve and a lot of guts and kept hanging around when things weren’t going great.’’

Nebraska, down by 11 points in both halves, shot only 38.3 percent from the field and missed more free throws (5) than they made (4).

“But they didn’t show bad body language or freak out on each other,’’ Miles said. “And Glynn was just terrific. We did just enough to win. It was awesome.’’

Ohio State (15-13, 5-10) appeared to have the game in hand when senior forward Marc Loving hit a 3-pointer with 33 seconds left for a 57-52 lead. Loving was one of three Buckeyes in double figures with 13 points.

Nebraska hustled the ball down the court, with Watson — who finished with 14 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals — zipping the ball in the corner to Jack McVeigh.

The sophomore forward, who in the first half was 0 for 4 from the field and scoreless, nailed a 20-footer to cut the gap to 57-55 with 24.9 seconds left. McVeigh scored 11 points in 15 second-half minutes.

“We ran a play,’’ McVeigh said. “Glynn found me. I was going to shoot no matter what. I released it and it felt good.’’

Work remained, though. Backup forward Nick Fuller and scoring leader Tai Webster (17) responded by forcing a jump ball on the full-court press three seconds later, giving NU possession.

“That was a huge play,’’ Miles said.

After an OSU foul with 15.9 seconds left, Watson took an inbounds pass near midcourt and darted down the right side of the lane, flipping in a layup and drawing a foul. His free throw put NU up 58-57.

Ohio State dribbled past midcourt and called time with eight seconds left. The Buckeyes got the ball to forward Jae’Sean Tate about 23 feet from the basket, but he picked up his dribble and stranded himself under heavy pressure. His off-balance 3 was long and Webster snared the rebound.

McVeigh said the last eight seconds of defensive work were right off the drawing board.

“They got the shot we wanted them to take — a tough, contested shot,’’ he said. “That’s all we could ask for.’’

Besides Webster’s 17 points, Watson’s 14 and McVeigh’s 11, Nebraska got a huge contribution off the bench from Ed Morrow.

The sophomore forward had 10 points and six rebounds in 15 minutes before fouling out with 4:43 to go. He sparked a 9-0 Husker run midway through the second half that tied the game at 43 with two baskets, a rebound and an assist on McVeigh’s tying 3-pointer.

Morrow missed seven games with a foot injury. NU is 5-2 in league games he played and 1-6 when he sat out.

“We built off the momentum from the last game,’’ said Morrow, referencing Tuesday’s 82-66 win over Penn State. “I felt we carried that energy over. Me and my team sort of know how to win, and we showed it tonight.’’