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November 29, 2009Coming into Sunday's trip to take on Southern Cal, Nebraska head coach Doc Sadler told his team that he wanted them to find a way to win ugly.
Not only were the Huskers able to do just that, they also ended it in dramatic fashion.
With just 11 seconds left in the game, redshirt freshman guard Eshaunte Jones drained a 3-pointer to give NU a 51-48 lead, which eventually ended up the final after the Trojans failed to score as expired.
"A lot of people will look at the score, and I think it's a great score," Sadler said. "I believed if it got into the 60s we might have a difficult time winning. Credit our guys for making some big plays down the stretch and sneaking one out here."
Prior to Jones' game-winning shot, the Huskers put together an impressive rally in the final two minutes. Trailing 46-43, junior forward Quincy Hankins-Cole made a lay-up to cut the deficit to one with 1:35 to play.
On USC's ensuing possession, senior Ryan Anderson came up with a huge steal and was fouled while making a lay-up on the other end of the floor to give Nebraska a 48-46 lead with 1:06 on the clock.
It looked like NU was going to come up with another defensive stop on USC's next possession when Dwight Lewis missed a jumper, but Nikola Vucevic came down with the offensive rebound and laid it back in to tie the game at 48-48 with 39 seconds remaining.
Sadler called a full timeout after the basket knowing that he needed to draw up a play to give one of his players a chance at an open shot.
As the Huskers took the floor following the break, Anderson told Jones to flank out as far back to the corner as he could. When Anderson got the ball at the top of the key, he penetrated and kicked it out to Jones, who got a great look and buried the trey.
"We wanted to get in a screen roll and replace with our big guy," Sadler said. 'With the game being tied, we wanted to get it going to the basket or throw back (outside). We threw back to Ryan, and if (the shot) wasn't there he was to drive it and kick to the corner. They did a good job of executing it. It looked good because the shot went in."
Anderson finished with a game-high 14 points and four steals, while freshman forward Brandon Ubel added 10 points off the bench. Jones ended the day with seven points.
For the Huskers, the win was a stark contrast to their previous road trip last week against Saint Louis, where they never looked comfortable or in sync in a 69-55 loss. Now sitting at 4-1 on the season, NU plays host to Texas-Pan American at home on Wednesday night before hitting the road once again when they take on in-state rival Creighton in Omaha on Sunday.
"What a great win for us at this time," Sadler said. "The adjustments that the kids have made from the first road trip to this road trip - understanding time of possession and all those things - you've got to be happy with it.
"I'm proud of this basketball team. We have a long, long way to go. Inside, (USC) is a good basketball team that we played tonight. It was a difficult game, but it's one that we're glad to have gotten the win."