CLEMSON, S.C. — For the second straight game, Nebraska men’s basketball took a halftime lead away from home but couldn’t hold on.
The result was a 60-58 loss to Clemson on Wednesday in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, despite NU leads of nine points in the first half and five points in the second.
Husker guard Tai Webster appeared ready to tie the game with one second left when he darted into the lane. But his 8-foot floater rimmed out.
That capped a heart-breaking final 20 seconds for NU. Guard Glynn Watson had two shots to take the lead, but one was blocked and he missed the other. Then with 6.9 seconds to play, guard Anton Gill traveled while all alone. Gill also missed a jumper in the final minute.
Clemson got one of two free throws from guard Avry Holmes with 5.7 seconds left for a 60-58 lead before Webster’s final shot.
“We tried to get Tai or Glynn loose,” NU coach Tim Miles said on the Husker Radio Network. “Tai got a bit of an awkward shot, laid it on the rim, and it fell off.”
The loss was the third straight for Nebraska (4-3), which led almost the entire first half and was up 31-27 at halftime and 44-39 with 14:30 to play after Watson hit an NBA-range 3-pointer to beat the shot clock.
Clemson (4-2) finally took the lead at 45-44 on a floater in the lane from All-ACC forward Jaron Blossomgame, who led the Tigers with 15 points. That was Clemson’s first lead since the score was 5-4 less than five minutes into the game.
The hosts continued on a 12-2 run to build a five-point lead, though Nebraska got back even at 58-58 on a Watson 3-pointer with 1:27 to play.
“It boiled down to one element of the game in the second half,” Miles said. “We played pretty good defense for a long time, but there were three offensive rebounds they kicked out for 3s, and one loose ball that they hit a 3 late.
“That’s the difference. Those were the back-breakers.”
Free throws didn’t help Nebraska. The Huskers made 4 of 7, while Clemson hit 17 of 22. But Miles didn’t dwell on that discrepancy.
“We controlled every aspect of the game,” he said, “except for loose balls and offensive rebounds.”
Besides Watson’s 20 points, the Huskers got 12 points from Webster, a season-high 11 from forward Michael Jacobson and 10 points and 12 rebounds from forward Ed Morrow.
It was Nebraska’s fourth road game in seven days. Clemson came in with four full days between games with no travel.
In the first half, Nebraska broke an 8-8 tie with an 8-0 run, with Webster producing five of those points. The Husker lead grew to nine at 24-15 with 5:57 to play after consecutive baskets from Watson and a short jumper from Evan Taylor.
NU still led by nine entering the final three minutes of the half. But guard Gabe DeVoe sparked a late Clemson surge, scoring five of his nine first-half points toward the end as the Tigers closed to 31-27.
Nebraska’s next game is Saturday at home at 1 p.m., against South Dakota, coached by former Miles assistant Craig Smith.