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MINNEAPOLIS — It wasn’t looking good.

James Palmer was on the bench with four fouls. Minnesota had rallied from a 15-point hole to tie the game at 62 with about nine minutes still to play in a building that has been more than unkind to Nebraska basketball since the Huskers joined the Big Ten.

Then, on a seemingly innocuous play, Minnesota coach Richard Pitino blew his top and earned a technical foul.

It was the spark for what turned out to be a game-deciding 8-0 run that took all of 61 seconds.

And it could turn out to be one of the biggest minutes in Nebraska’s season.

Nebraska improved to 18-8 overall and 9-4 in the Big Ten with the 91-85 win over the Gophers at Williams Arena that was its first victory in the 90-year-old building since 2003.

"I think it was just a team effort. Everybody was contributing in some way," said senior guard Evan Taylor. "Every night could be somebody's night. Like tonight was Roby's night, but other guys made plays and that's just a sign of a good team that's really mature."

Roby's maturation continued with a night that saw him score a career-high 19 points to go with eight rebounds, five blocked shots and two assists in a team-high 34 minutes while also guarding Minnesota star Jordan Murphy.

The 6-foot-8 sophomore was 8-for-10 from the field and often on the receiving end of Nebraska's most spectacular plays.

"Robes just hung in there, then he started blocking shots," Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. "It's so impressive to me when he gets a rebound, busts out on the break, and he just looks like a gazelle out there. Not many guys in a lot of leagues can do that, and he does it as well as anybody.

"He was just really good all night... we needed every bit of that Roby tonight."

In what ended up being the game's deciding stretch, an Isaac Copeland jumper and two Anton Gill free throws sandwiched around Pitino's technical put Nebraska in front, and Roby followed with a basket to put the Huskers up 68-62.

After Nate Mason missed a jumper on the other end, Taylor caught the Minnesota defense sleeping for a layup to put the Huskers up 70-62 with 8:14 left.

That Nebraska made the run with Palmer on the bench said plenty about where this team is, and where it could possibly go.

"This game was real big just because we know they're not as bad as their record looks," Roby said. "We practice situations like that, so that's just stuff you learn in practice, and just playing basketball."

Still, Nebraska's sixth win in its last seven games wasn't secure until the closing seconds.

Mason, who scored a career-high 34 points, hit back-to-back three-pointerss in the final 40 seconds after Nebraska had opened up a 10-point lead.

The Huskers were up 87-83 with 30 seconds left when Isaiah Washington missed an open three-pointer after a NU turnover, and were able to hang on.

Nebraska overcame monster efforts from two of the Big Ten’s top players.

With the Gophers' roster depleted, Mason and Murphy combined to score 56 of Minnesota’s 85 points on 21-of-37 shooting. Mason went 7-for-9 from three-point range. Murphy had 22 points and 13 rebounds.

"When Nate got going, and Murphy got going, you knew there wasn't a lot we were going to do to stop them," Miles said.

The Huskers countered with a balanced attack.

Palmer saw his string of 20-plus point scoring games end, but nearly had a triple-double — 19 points, nine assists, and seven rebounds.

Glynn Watson, tasked with chasing Mason around most of the night, had 10 points, six assists and three rebounds.

And Copeland finished with 12 points as eight Huskers scored and Nebraska shot 51 percent from the field while hitting 11 three-pointers.

It looked like another slow start for the Huskers, as Minnesota bolted to a 7-0 lead in the first minute and a half and forced a Nebraska timeout.

Then came one of the best stretches of Nebraska hoops all season.

The Huskers responded with a 15-5 run to take the lead, and hit 7 of 9 shots to score 23 points in an 8-minute stretch, with none of the baskets coming from Palmer.

A 9-0 run gave Nebraska its largest first-half lead at 37-22 with 4:23 left. At that point the Huskers were shooting 67 percent, with Palmer getting seven points in three minutes.

Behind Mason, who hit four first-half threes, Minnesota (14-12, 3-10) closed with a 7-0 run to get within 44-37 at the break.

But Nebraska's players stayed composed. Really composed.

"I thought (their composure) was good. It was better than mine for a while. But coaches kind of lose their minds this time of year," Miles said.

With another win under their belt, the Huskers can turn their minds ever so slightly more toward any larger goals that lie ahead.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7436 or cbasnett@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.

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