INDIANAPOLIS - Boo Buie scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half and drew a critical charge with 10.5 seconds left as Northwestern erased a 15-point second-half deficit to upend Nebraska 71-69 in the opening round of the Big Ten Conference tournament on Wednesday.
After forcing the Nebraska turnover, Buie was fouled with 7.4 seconds remaining and made the first of two free throws. The Cornhuskers used their last timeout and when Buie missed the second free throw Trey McGowens pushed the ball up court only to have his contested floater in the lane deflected by Robbie Beran.
Northwestern, which had lost its opening game in the last five tournaments, faces fifth-seeded Iowa in the second round on Thursday.
Pete Nance had 14 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for 12th-seeded Northwestern (15-15), which beat Nebraska twice during the regular season.
Alonzo Verge Jr., scored 21 points with nine assists, seven rebounds and four steals for 13th-seeded Nebraska (10-22), but he was the player that crashed into Buie. Verge was trying to get to the basket after Chase Audige made 1 of 2 free throws with 18.1 seconds left put Northwestern on top 70-69.
Derrick Walker added 16 points for the Cornhuskers, who had won three straight, including an upset of No. 10 Wisconsin in the regular-season finale.
Nebraska used a 7-0 run to take the lead midway through the first half and had a 10-0 run, capped by McGowens’ three-point play, to go on top 35-20.
It was 39-25 at the half with the Cornhuskers shooting 52% (15 of 29) and the Wildcats 28% (8 of 29) with 10 turnovers.
Down 15 about five minutes into the second half, Buie had the last five points in a 14-0 run that brought Northwestern within 50-49. Buie followed a Nance 3-pointer with another 3 to put Northwestern on top 63-62.
Buie hit another 3 to make it 69-65 with 1:49 to go, but Verge tied it with two free throws at 1:01.
Northwestern only had four turnovers and shot 53% in the second half to 32% for the Cornhuskers.