Sanders hits game-winner for Rutgers' 1st Big Ten win (Jan 21, 2017)
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) Rutgers finally put together a 40-minute game in conference play and coach Steve Pikiell earned his first Big Ten win with a 65-64 nail-biting victory over Nebraska on Saturday.
Corey Sanders scored a season-high 25 points, including the game-winner with one second left.
Sanders stole a ball that bounced off Nebraska's Tai Webster's foot with 12 seconds to play. Following a timeout, Sanders drove to the basket, corralled his own rebound and gave Rutgers the lead.
''We're in every game,'' Pikiell said. ''We just have to learn how to win and today these guys made sure that happened on the court.
''Offensive rebounding has been huge for us all year, so it's great to win a game like this with our biggest strength, which is rebounding.''
Deshawn Freeman and C.J. Gettys each added 10 points for Rutgers (12-8, 1-6).
Sanders' layup with 4:42 tied it at 55-all. From there, the teams exchanged leads five times over the final minutes. Rutgers was led by Sanders down the stretch, including a fast-break dunk for a 57-55 lead before a jumper gave the Scarlet Knights a 59-58 lead with 2:31 left.
Jack McVeigh hit three 3-pointers in the span of 1:14 to give Nebraska (9-10, 3-4) a 64-59 lead with 1:31 to go.
''I didn't think our guys were on balance and in the second half I thought we just ran much better offense and we handled the man-zone switch up, the press - we handled everything pretty well,'' Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. ''We just couldn't hang on to the lead.''
Webster finished with 14 points while Glynn Watson Jr. and McVeigh scored 12 points apiece for Nebraska.
''It wasn't going to happen overnight,'' Sanders said of the program's rebuilding process. ''But I feel like with this win we can keep things rolling and hopefully get more wins.''
Nebraska: After starting 3-0 in Big Ten play, the Cornhuskers have lost four straight by single digits. Nebraska lost at Ohio State when Marc Loving scored with 0.6 seconds left to escape Lincoln with a 67-66 victory.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights returned home after playing six of their last eight games on the road. Nebraska was Rutgers' sixth opponent in the last eight games to have been ranked or receiving votes this season.
Rutgers continued its tenacious defense, forcing Nebraska into tough shots. Rutgers entered the game holding opponents to under 40 percent shooting for the season and Nebraska shot 34 percent overall after just 22.2 percent in the first half.
The Scarlet Knights had almost a week off to prepare for Nebraska after losing at Indiana 76-57 last Sunday.
''Prep is always great,'' Pikiell said. ''They had a good practice - a great practice yesterday. They're really learning how to fight through adversity, which in this league, there's nothing but adversity and as we continue to face it and conquer it, it's a good thing for us.''
Entering the game with an 18.3 scoring average, Webster was held four points below that mark. Webster's on track to have the highest average for a season since Aleks Maric's 18.5 in 2006-07.
Nebraska: Has five days off before playing at Northwestern on Thursday night.
Rutgers: Travels to College Park to play No. 25 Maryland.