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December 22, 2009In a game that was supposed to be one of Nebraska's toughest tests to date, the Huskers passed with flying colors.
Behind one of its better performances from the free throw line all season, Nebraska was able to hold onto a slim lead down the stretch and knock off Tulsa 74-70 in its first game of the Las Vegas Classic at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
In improving their season record to 9-2, the Huskers also handed the Golden Hurricane (9-2) just their second loss of the year.
Sophomore guard Brandon Richardson was the hero in the final minutes, as he hit all six of his free throws in the final minute to help the Huskers hold off a late Tulsa rally and pick up arguably their biggest win of the season. As a team, NU shot 84 percent from the line in the second half.
After heading into halftime tied up at 31-31, Nebraska shot out of the gates to open the second half with a 20-9 run and take a 51-39 lead with a little less than 12 minutes remaining.
The hot start didn't last long, though, as Tulsa eventually climbed its way back to cut the lead to 61-59 with roughly four minutes left to play. Following a Hurricane timeout, Nebraska put an end to the rally when Jeter hit a jumper and Jones followed with a 3-pointer to go back up 66-61 with 2:35 on the clock.
However, Tulsa kept the game within one possession after a pair of free throws by Justin Hurtt and a jumper Ben Uzoh with 1:19 to go make it 66-63. Needing a basket to pad the lead in the final minute, Jeter came up big again when he hit a jumper with 50 seconds left to bump the lead back up to five.
Uzoh made a lay-up to make it a three-point game with 19.9 seconds, but Richardson made a pair of free throws to make it 70-65 with 19.4 on the clock.
The Golden Hurricane hung tough until the final seconds, as Steven Idlet tipped in a basket with 11.3 left, but Richardson came through in the clutch again with another pair of free throws to go up 72-67 with 10 seconds on the clock.
Just when it looked like Nebraska had it wrapped up, though, Donte Medder drained a 3 with 2.6 to play to make it 72-70. Luckily for the Huskers, Richardson was there to save the day once again.
After being fouled immediately on the ensuing inbounds pass, Richardson made both of his free throws with 1.4 left to seal the Huskers' victory.
With the win, Nebraska moves on to face BYU on Wednesday at 9 p.m. CST. The Cougars (11-1) defeated Nevada 110-104 on Tuesday to advance to the winner's game.