Kopp, Northwestern hang on to beat Nebraska 62-57

Nebraska head coach Fred Hoiberg reacts to a call during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Northwestern in Evanston, Ill., Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020.

EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — Northwestern coach Chris Collins saw his team playing music and dancing and bumping chests. He hopes the celebrations happen on a more regular basis.

Miller Kopp scored 15 points, and Northwestern snapped a five-game losing streak, hanging on to beat Nebraska 62-57 Saturday.

Kopp, Northwestern hang on to beat Nebraska 62-57

Nebraska forward Kevin Cross, right, drives against Northwestern center Ryan Young during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Evanston, Ill., Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020.

“Obviously, the understatement of the year is it's a big win for us,” Collins said.

Northwestern (6-9, 1-4 Big 10) led by as much as 18 in the first half and came out on top after things got close in the final minutes.

Kopp missed three consecutive 3-pointers late in the game. And the Wildcats missed the front ends of three straight one-and-ones before Nebraska's Cam Mack banked a 3 from the right to cut it to 60-57 with 51 seconds left.

Kopp, Northwestern hang on to beat Nebraska 62-57

Nebraska guard Dachon Burke Jr., right, drives against Northwestern forward A.J. Turner during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Evanston, Ill., Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020.

After the Wildcats' Pete Nance missed from beyond the arc, Pat Spencer appeared to tip a potential tying 3 from the wing by Dachon Burke Jr. Kopp then made two free throws with nine seconds left to seal Northwestern's first win since Dec. 15 against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.

Spencer scored 14, and the Wildcats matched a season high by making 10 of 29 3-pointers, though they cooled off in a big way after a scorching start. They went from making 8 of 14 in the first half to 2 of 15 in the second against a tighter defense.

Kopp, Northwestern hang on to beat Nebraska 62-57

Nebraska guard Haanif Cheatham, right, shoots against Northwestern forward Pete Nance during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Evanston, Ill., Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020.

“It was just a really good win,” Collins said. “A lot of times, people don't realize the commitment that goes in for these players in between games, what they have to do with their bodies — whether it be strength and conditioning, lifting weights, eating right, sleep. Oh yeah, they go to Northwestern as well. ... You put that kind of investment into it and you don't get to taste some success, it can be hard.”

Nebraska (7-9, 2-3) simply came out flat after a win over Iowa that might have been its best performance. And coach Fred Hoiberg took the loss in his first game in the Chicago area since the NBA's Bulls fired him early last season.

Mack scored 11 for the Cornhuskers, who shot just 31.3% and made 9 of 30 3-pointers.

“This team, we knew, was going to have urgency today,” Hoiberg said. “We did not come out and match that early in the game. But what positive can we take? The second half.”

Kopp, Northwestern hang on to beat Nebraska 62-57

Nebraska guard Haanif Cheatham, center, drives to the basket against Northwestern forward Pete Nance, left, forward Robbie Beran during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Evanston, Ill., Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020.

Northwestern led by as much as 18 in the first half and took a 42-27 edge to the locker room after the hot start from beyond the arc by a team that ranked 11th in the Big Ten in 3-point accuracy.

Spencer scored 14, A.J. Turner 11 and Robbie Beran added 10 points. Back-to-back 3's by Kopp made it 42-24 before Kevin Cross hit one for Nebraska with just under a minute left in the half.

Kopp, Northwestern hang on to beat Nebraska 62-57

Nebraska guard Dachon Burke Jr., top, and Northwestern forward A.J. Turner battle for the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Evanston, Ill., Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020.

BIG PICTURE

Nebraska: The Cornhuskers gave Northwestern space to shoot in the first half and paid in a big way. Though they were better on defense after that, this was overall a disappointing performance for Nebraska coming off the win over Iowa.

Northwestern: Consider this a confidence-boosting win for the young Wildcats, who hung on in this one after blowing a 10-point lead against Indiana on Wednesday.

QUOTABLE

“We played three of the first four (Big Ten games) on the road, and our home game was against Michigan State. Thanks!” — Collins.

INJURY UPDATE

Kopp, Northwestern hang on to beat Nebraska 62-57

Nebraska forward Yvan Ouedraogo, center, goes to the basket as Northwestern forward Pete Nance, left, and center Ryan Young guard against him during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Evanston, Ill., Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020.

Collins said he expects freshman Boo Buie to return this season from a high ankle sprain, though he will miss his fourth consecutive game when Northwestern hosts Iowa on Tuesday. Averaging 10.8 points, the guard has been a bright spot for the Wildcats. The Wildcats are also missing guard Anthony Gaines, who recently had season-ending shoulder surgery.

UP NEXT

Nebraska: The Cornhuskers will try to get back to winning when they visit No. 11 Ohio State on Tuesday.

Northwestern: The Wildcats will try to make it back-to-back wins when they host the Hawkeyes on Tuesday.

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