You couldn’t walk a step in the Bob Devaney Sports Center Wednesday night without seeing a smile on anyone’s face in red and white.
The Husker men’s basketball team gave its 12,781 fans in attendance plenty of reason to be filled with euphoria in its 53-51 win against Minnesota.
Seniors Brandon Ubel and Dylan Talley couldn’t help but catch the happy fever floating around at the end of the game.
“The outcome was very, very awesome,” Ubel said.
The forward led the Huskers (13-16 overall, 4-12 Big Ten) on Senior Night with 15 points and six rebounds against the Gophers (20-9, 8-8).
Ubel said he wasn’t planning on ending his last home game without a fight.
“I wanted the ball,” he said. “I wanted to make the plays for our team and I was fortunate enough to do it.”
Throughout the first half and most of the second, Talley led the Huskers in scoring, nailing three field goals and four free throws with five minutes to play. The senior drained his second three-pointer two minutes after halftime to give Huskers their largest lead, 33-24, to begin the second half.
But Minnesota caught on to Talley’s play scheme and forced the guard to give up the ball.
“When I looked out and saw what was going on, they’re quicker than Dylan,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. “We couldn’t get him free with the ball. There was just too much quickness on Minnesota’s team.”
Miles was forced to change his game plan on a different Husker. The answer was Ubel.
Entering the final five minutes of the game, the 6-foot-10-inch forward tallied just five points in the game.
When Ubel was called on his coach to attack more in the paint, he was ready.
“We knew last time out against these guys they kind of punked us,” Ubel said. “We kept with the mindset that, that wasn’t going to happen again. We needed someone to step up and make plays and I wanted the ball in those situations.”
The Overland Park, Kan., native proved how eager he was to end his Nebraska career with a victory down the stretch.
After each three-point play to give the Huskers the lead, Ubel waved his hands in the air to pump up the crowd.
He was feeling it.
“I kind of lost my mind when I made both of those,” he said. “I was just so excited. I wanted to let the crowd know that we were going to do this. We were going to win this game.”
Ubel finished the game scoring Nebraska’s final 10 points. The senior also recorded the final rebound off a missed three-point shot by Minnesota’s Maverick Ahanmisi.
The senior held onto the ball tight and began to realize that his team was well on its way to its 11th and final home win on the season. And the final win ever at the Devaney Center.
“It’s a great win, what a night to celebrate,” Ubel said.
It wasn’t pretty, but Talley, Ubel and Andre Almeida got the job done and earned their victory for the last time.
“All three of those guys were special for us tonight,” Miles said. “Pretty cool group, they don’t flinch. They just keep fighting and try to get better. What a night to celebrate.”
Ubel and Talley, who led the Huskers with 15 and 12 points respectively, were greeted at the end of the game by a storm of Husker fans, who then raised the two seniors on their shoulders at midcourt.
The Devaney Center was in pandemonium.
Ubel said he couldn’t have pictured a better ending to his career at the place he’s called home for four years.
“That was unbelievable,” he said. “Last game in the Devaney, my last game in Nebraska with this group of guys, the way we did it...I can’t think of a better way for us to go out.”