Piscataway, N.J. — Geo Baker had struggled for nearly a month after breaking his thumb. That seemed to end Saturday with two 3-pointers in just over two minutes.
Baker hit a 3 with 1.2 seconds left to send No. 24 Rutgers past Nebraska, 75-72, to raise the Scarlet Knights’ home record to 14-0.
After missing a 3-pointer with 17 seconds remaining, Baker got the ball after a rebound from Akwaski Yeboah, and Rutgers’ unquestioned leader waved off his teammates before drilling the final shot on a step-back jumper.
“It definitely helped my confidence to see the ball go through the hoop, especially like that,” Baker said. “So I’m feeling really good right now.”
So is his thumb.
Baker ditched the splint he’d been wearing since the break, saying his thumb was feeling a lot better. Entering in the game, Baker was 4-of-18 shooting in three games since returning from injury after missing three games, and started this game 0-of-6 before going 2-of-3 to end the game.
Rutgers (15-5, 6-3 Big Ten) was up 14 early in the second half before Nebraska (7-13, 2-7) went on a 22-7 run over seven minutes to lead 63-62 on two foul shots by Charlie Easely with 7:49 to go. Nebraska went ahead by six with just over three minutes left before Baker and Yeboah hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to tie it at 72 with 1:59 to go.
“He’s a big-time player,” Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg said of Baker. “Give him credit for stepping up and knocking down the biggest shots of the game.”
Rutgers had four double-digit scorers, with Yeboah leading the way with 20 points. Caleb McConnell and Jacob Young each had 12 and Montez Mathis 10.
Nebraska, down 38-33 at the half, was led by Cam Mack with 19 points while Thorir Thorbjarnarson had 17 points and eight rebounds. Myles Johnson had nine points on 5-of-5 shooting with 11 rebounds and five blocks for Rutgers.
While it wasn’t pretty, Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell was pleased his team was able to grind out a win.
“Our defense wasn’t great, but it was great when it needed to be, and our offense, too, so I’m happy for that,” Pikiell said. “It’s how you have to win games sometimes – you have to grind them out. And I’m an old-fashioned grinder and I appreciate those kinds of games where you’re not at your best and you still find a way to win.”
More Top 25
►No. 1 Baylor 72, (at) Florida 61: MaCio Teague and Devonte Bandoo scored 16 points apiece and Baylor extended its winning streak to 16 games with a win over Florida in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
The Bears improved to 6-1 in the annual inter-conference series, the best record of any team in either conference.
Baylor also gave the Big 12 an even split (5-5) in the daylong series.
The Bears (17-1) overcame an eight-point deficit early and led by 19 points in the second half before Florida mounted a minor rally. The Gators (12-7) had a chance to make it a single-digit game with a little more than 7 minutes to play, but they missed the front end of three consecutive one-and-ones.
Keyontae Johnson led Florida with 20 points. Andrew Nembhard added 16 points and eight assists.
►(At) No. 2 Gonzaga 92, Pacific 59: Killian Tillie scored 22 points and blocked four shots to help Gonzaga beat Pacific for its 13th straight victory.
Corey Kispert added 16 points and Filip Petrusev had 15 for Gonzaga (21-1, 7-0 West Coast). The Bulldogs also won their 35th consecutive home game, the longest streak in the nation.
Jahlil Tripp scored 21 points and Pierre Crockrell II added 10 for Pacific (15-8, 3-4), which is making strides under fourth-year coach Damon Stoudamire. The Tigers have lost 15 in a row to Gonzaga.
►(At) No. 3 Kansas 74, Tennessee 68: Devon Dotson scored 22 points, Udoka Azubuike added 18 and Kansas beat Tennessee in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
Azubuike was the lone big man for the Jayhawks (16-3) after Silvio De Sousa was suspended 12 games and David McCormack banned five for their roles in a brawl Tuesday against Kansas State.
After Azubuike went to the bench with two fouls early, Yves Pons hit consecutive 3-pointers to put the Volunteers (12-7) on a 14-2 run for a 20-13 lead. Kansas answered when Azubuike checked back in, stringing together a 12-0 run en route to a 37-30 lead at halftime.
Azubuike finished with 11 rebounds and four blocks.
Pons led the Volunteers with 24 points, and Jordan Bowden came alive early in the second half, knocking down three 3-pointers and finishing with 19 points after a scoreless first half.
Tennessee pulled within three late in the second half, but Azubuike had a block and hit four free throws late to keep the Volunteers in check.
(At) No. 5 Florida State 85, Notre Dame 84: Wyatt Wilkes scored 19 points and Florida State held off Notre Dame for its 10th straight victory.
Wilkes drilled 5 of 6 from 3-point range and the Seminoles (17-2, 7-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) made 12 of 18 from beyond the arc.
Florida State missed its last nine shots from the floor and Notre Dame (11-8, 2-6) nearly took advantage. The Fighting Irish had a few chances in the final moments, including Rex Pflueger’s desperation 3-pointer that fell short at the buzzer.
Trent Forrest and RaiQuan Gray each scored 13 points for Florida State, which has also won 10 consecutive home games.
Prentiss Hubb scored 24 points, hitting 5 of 11 3-pointers, and John Mooney had 16 points for Notre Dame, which shot 22 of 27 (81.5%) from the free-throw line.
►(At) No. 6 Louisville 80, Clemson 62: Darius Perry set career highs with 19 points and five 3-pointers, and Louisville rolled to its sixth consecutive victory.
The Cardinals (17-3, 8-1 ACC) pulled away with an 18-0 first-half run and shot 66 percent before halftime. Louisville hit 10 of 21 from long range for the game, including Perry’s two 3's before the big spurt ended in a 31-9 lead. That advantage held easily even as Louisville shot 28 percent in the second half.
Perry finished 7-of-12 from the field and 5-of-6 from deep to surpass his previous high of 17 points last reached against Vermont on Nov. 16, 2018. The junior point guard also had five rebounds.
Freshman Samuell Williamson scored 14 points off the bench, Steven Enoch had 11 points with seven rebounds, and Jordan Nwora scored 10 points as Louisville avoided becoming the Tigers’ latest upset victim. Clemson (10-9, 4-5) had won four of five, including victories at North Carolina and over then-No. 3 Duke.
Clyde Trapp had 11 points for the Tigers, who shot just 34.4 percent and were outrebounded, 41-29.
►No. 7 Dayton 87, (at) Richmond 79: Odi Toppin had 24 points and 12 rebounds and Dayton pulled away after halftime and won its ninth straight game.
Jalen Crutcher added 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the Flyers (18-2, 7-0 Atlantic 10). They led 40-32 at halftime and took control with a 12-0 run after Grant Golden opened the second-half scoring for Richmond.
Jacob Gilyard scored 27 and Nick Sherod had 23 points and nine rebounds for the Spiders (15-5, 5-2). Richmond trailed by as many as 20 points after halftime, but used a 17-5 run to get within 71-63 with 3:47 to play. But Crutcher hit his fourth 3-pointer and Trey Landers hit a layup off a feed from Toppin to rebuild the advantage to 13 and Richmond’s rally came up short.
Former Michigan player Ibi Watson added 14 points for the Flyers, who shot 53.7 percent (29-of-54).
►No. 9 Villanova 64, (at) Providence 60: Collin Gillespie grabbed a rebound and found Jeremiah Robinson-Earl on the fast break for a dunk to turn back a Providence rally with 55 seconds left.
Gillespie, who also hit a pair of free throws with 28 seconds to play, scored 18 with eight rebounds for the Wildcats (16-3, 6-1 Big East). Robinson-Earl finished with 17 points, making one of two foul shots with 13 seconds left to keep it a two-possession game.
Villanova won its sixth in a row.
Nate Watson scored 18 points with nine rebounds and David Duke had 11 and 10 for Providence (11-10, 4-4). The Friars have lost four of their last five games — with all of the losses coming against ranked teams.
►(At) No. 14 West Virginia 74, Missouri 51: Jermaine Haley had 15 points and nine rebounds, Miles McBride scored 15 points and West Virginia broke open a close game with a huge run early in the second half to beat cold-shooting Missouri in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
West Virginia’s Bob Huggins earned his 876th win to tie Adolph Rupp for seventh place on the NCAA Division I coaching list.
Oscar Tshiebwe added 14 pounds and eight rebounds, Gabe Osabuohien grabbed 12 rebounds and Derek Culver had 11 rebounds for the Mountaineers (16-3).
Torrence Watson scored 19 points to lead Missouri (9-10).
►No. 15 Kentucky 76, (at) No. 18 Texas Tech 74, OT: Nick Richards scored seven of his 25 points in overtime, including the game-deciding free throws with 10 seconds left, and No. 15 Kentucky beat No. 18 Texas Tech in the only Big 12/SEC Challenge game featuring two ranked teams.
Richards scored the first five points in overtime for the Wildcats (15-4), who blew a 10-point lead in the second half and went the final six minutes of regulation without a field goal. His last two free throws came after he fouled when Terrence Shannon missed on an awkward shot when defended by EJ Montgomery.
Texas Tech (12-7), which had won 54 consecutive non-conference home games since December 2013, had one last possession. But Davide Moretti was stripped by Ashton Hagans when starting a drive in the lane.
Immanuel Quickley had 21 points for the Wildcats, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from halfcourt that put them up 36-34 at halftime.
Kyler Edards had 18 points for the Red Raiders, while Moretti had 15 and Shannon 12.
►(At) No. 16 Auburn 80, Iowa State 76: Isaac Okoro scored 19, Samir Doughty had 18 and Auburn held off Iowa State n the opening game of the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
Okoro had 10 straight points to help the Tigers (17-2) take a 76-62 lead with under six minutes to play. The Cyclones (9-10) responded with 10 points in a row.
Okoro, a true freshman, hit two foul shots with nine seconds left to seal it.
Rasir Bolton led the Cyclones with 23 points and Tyrese Haliburton, the team’s leading scorer going into the game, added 12.
Auburn made nine 3-pointers in the first half, with Danjel Purifoy hitting shortly before the buzzer, in taking a 42-31 lead. The Tigers finished 10-of-28 from behind the arc.
►SMU 74, (at) No. 20 Memphis 70: Kendric Davis had 20 points and five assists, Emmanuel Bandoumel added 14 and SMU used a late run to upset Memphis.
Isiaha Mike scored 13 points, all in the second half, and Tyson Jolly finished with 10 as the Mustangs (15-4, 5-2 American Athletic Conference) won their third straight.
D.J. Jeffries led Memphis (14-5, 3-3) with 18 points while Precious Achiuwa had 15 points and nine rebounds. The loss was the Tigers’ second in a row and fourth in the last six.
The Mustangs, who trailed by as many as 12 points in the second half, finally overtook the Tigers with a 15-2 run, erasing a double-digit deficit for a 71-70 advantage. Memphis failed to score in the final 6 minutes.
(At) Arizona State 66, No. 22 Arizona 65: Alonzo Verge Jr. scored on a layup with 10.9 seconds left and Remy Martin led Arizona State’s comeback from a 22-point deficit in a victory over Arizona.
The Wildcats (13-6, 3-3 Pac-12) shook off a shaky start with a massive run, building the 22-point lead midway through the first half.
The Sun Devils (12-7, 2-3) stormed back with a 16-0 run spanning halftime, putting a charge into an already-lit-up home crowd.
The rivals traded blows the rest of the way until Verge scored on a contested layup to put the Sun Devils up one. Arizona got a final look, but Josh Green was bumped and couldn’t get a shot to the rim.
Martin finished with 24 points, Rob Edwards 15 and Verge added 13 — none bigger than his final two.
Zeke Nnaji had 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Nico Mannion added 16 points for the Wildcats.
(At) No. 23 Colorado 76, Washington 62: Tyler Bey returned to the lineup and scored 16 points, McKinley Wright IV had 15 and Colorado beat Washington, snapping a five-game losing streak to the Huskies.
Lucas Siewert added 12 points for Colorado (16-4, 5-2 Pac-12), which has won nine of its last 11 games. Bey missed Thursday night’s win over Washington State with a hand injury suffered in practice earlier in the week.
Freshman Isaiah Stewart had 23 points and four blocks, including two on Bey on consecutive possessions, for the Huskies.
Nahziah Carter and RaeQuan Battle each scored 12 points for Washington (12-9, 2-6), which lost its third straight, its longest skid of the season.