Mason scores career-high 34, but Gophers fall to Nebraska

MINNEAPOLIS — Sophomore Isaiah Roby led a balanced attack with a career-high 21 points and eight rebounds as Nebraska defeated Minnesota 91-85 on Tuesday night.

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James Palmer Jr. had 19 points and nine assists for the Huskers (18-8, 9-4 Big Ten), who won for the sixth time in seven games. Anton Gill scored 12 points, while Glynn Watson Jr. and Isaac Copeland each scored 10 for Nebraska.

Nate Mason poured in a career-high 34 points and added six assists for the Golden Gophers (14-12, 3-10), who have lost six in a row. Jordan Murphy scored 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, while freshman Isaiah Washington scored 10 points and dished out eight assists.

Nebraska ranks 13th out of 14 Big Ten teams in shooting percentage, but the Huskers came out firing. They hit nine of their first 15 shots from the floor, including 5 for 7 on 3-pointers, as they pulled out to a 23-18 lead.

That was all without a point from Palmer, who had averaged 25.2 points over his last six games. But he ran off seven straight points before Gill hit a transition layup and a 3 to push Nebraska’s lead to 37-22.

Washington hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to cut Nebraska’s halftime lead to 44-37. The Huskers shot 59 percent from the floor and hit 8 of 12 from 3-point range in the first half.

Mason almost single-handedly willed the Gophers back into the game in the second half. Trailing by eight, the senior guard hit three free throws, and after a Thomas Allen 3-pointer, Mason made a driving layup, dished to Bakary Konate for a dunk, and drained a 3 to cut Nebraska’s lead to 60-59 with 10 minutes to play.

Minnesota tied the game 62-all on a 3-point play by Michael Hurt, but Nebraska immediately answered with an 8-0 run to restore its cushion. Gill hit a pair of free throws during that run after Gophers coach Richard Pitino was assessed a technical foul for arguing with the officials.

Mason hit a pair of 3-pointers in the final minute to pull Minnesota to within four, and after a steal Washington had a chance to cut the deficit to one point but his 3-pointer was long. Palmer then hit four straight free throws to close it out.

BIG PICTURE

Nebraska: Since joining the Big Ten in 2011-12, the Huskers have one fourth-place finish and a combined .289 winning percentage in their other five seasons. This year’s club now stands alone in fourth place, and its five remaining opponents are a combined 21-40.

Minnesota: Coming off an overtime loss at No. 24 Michigan on Saturday, the Gophers again showed heart but were outgunned by a deeper, more athletic team. Minnesota felt the absence of starting forward Amir Coffey (shoulder). The Gophers also lost starting guard Dupree McBrayer, who has been battling leg injuries all season and didn’t play in the second half.

UP NEXT

Nebraska: Hosts Rutgers on Saturday.

Minnesota: Visits Indiana on Friday.