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Northwestern 84, Nebraska 74: Short-handed Cats take care of business at home

Northwestern forward Drew Crawford right drives basket as Nebraskcenter Jorge Brian Diaz  (21) guards during first half an NCAA

Northwestern forward Drew Crawford, right, drives to the basket as Nebraska center Jorge Brian Diaz (21) guards during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Evanston, Ill., Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012. (AP photo/Nam Y. Huh)

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Updated: March 4, 2012 8:20AM

Northwestern coach Bill Carmody used only six players against Nebraska, and it was all the Wildcats needed as they beat the Cornhuskers 84-74 Thursday at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

The victory ended a three-game losing streak for the Wildcats, who last won on Jan. 14 when upsetting Michigan State 81-74.

Hoping to mix things up, Carmody started John Shurna at center and benched Davide Curletti (eight assists) until the 11:37 mark of the first half. Guard Alex Marcotullio also started, scoring seven points and dishing out two assists.

Shurna scored a game-high 28 points and played the entire 40 minutes.

NU tried early to own the three-point line and break its school record of 20 three-pointers. The Wildcats were 10 of 21 from behind the arc in the first half, but stalled in the second half and finished 14 of 31.

“I thought sometimes we were shooting too quickly and I think sometimes they were a little quick, but that’s what was there and if you drove the lane you had to throw it out to a guy,” Carmody said.

And after struggling with turnovers during the three-game skid, the Wildcats held onto the ball and only turned it over nine times.

Taking a 41-26 lead into the second half, the Wildcats came out stumbling and allowed the Cornhuskers to go on a 12-1 run that cut the lead to four points. By the 10:35 mark, Nebraska had cut the Wildcats’ lead to 54-53.

“It got to one, but the guys came through,” Carmody said. The Wildcats (13-8, 3-6 Big Ten) then went on a 9-0 spurt.

Nebraska (11-10, 3-7) clawed back again and got back-to-back three-pointers from Dylan Talley (13 points) and Bo Spencer (24 points) to cut the Wildcats’ lead to 75-72 with 1:33 to play. But the Wildcats were able to outscore Nebraska 9-2 in the game’s final 1:13 to put the game away.

“They made a great run and were knocking down shots,” said Drew Crawford, who scored 21 points. “We stayed composed and played great defense and we were able to get back into things.”

Freshman guard Dave Sobolewski added 15 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Wildcats.

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