The Cornhuskers upset the Aggies 57-48 in a matchup of the Big 12's top two defensive teams Saturday.
"We just weren't tough enough," A&M coach Mark Turgeon said. "It was physical -- real physical -- and we didn't respond. We've been able to in the past, but we didn't today. That's what it came down to."
|More college hoops|
|Eye on College Basketball|
Jorge Brian Diaz scored 16 points and Nebraska held Texas A&M to two field goals over the final 10 minutes.
The Huskers (15-5, 3-3) used a 10-1 spurt to turn a 42-39 deficit into a 49-43 lead, putting the game away on Eshaunte Jones' 3-pointer with just over a minute to play.
Brandon Richardson and Lance Jeter had 10 points apiece for Nebraska, which had lost three straight to the Aggies (17-3, 4-2).
The Aggies were the highest-ranked team beaten by the Huskers in coach Doc Sadler's five seasons as coach. The Huskers are 14-0 at home. This win, which came after a crushing 72-71 loss at Texas Tech last Saturday, prompted students to rush the floor after the final buzzer.
"It's huge," Sadler said. "You're 3 for 3 in league play at home. If you're going to have a chance to compete in this league, you have to take care of home court."
Nathan Walkup scored 13 points and Khris Middleton had 12 for Texas A&M. The Aggies shot 24 percent from the field in the second half and 39 percent for the game. They also committed 14 turnovers and made just 6 of 14 free throws.
"You're talking about the 13th-best team in the country and you just held them to 48 points," Sadler said. "I don't know that it's the best defensive effort we've had, but we've been pretty consistent when we've won."
The game turned after Nebraska's Toney McCray committed an intentional foul early in the second half.
The Aggies were up 34-31 and had a chance to build on the lead when McCray shoved David Loubeau as he attempted a dunk. Loubeau landed hard next to the basket support.
Dash Harris shot the free throws and missed both as Loubeau recovered on the bench, and the Aggies couldn't convert when they retained possession.
Not long after that, Nebraska went on its decisive run.
"They hit Dave on the flagrant foul, and we never busted anybody hard," Walkup said. "Don't play dirty, but you still have to make a statement. We can't let them hit one of our players, and we just never responded."
Diaz's left-handed scoop and Jeter's end-to-end drive put Nebraska back on top 45-42 with less than 6 minutes to play, bringing the fans to their feet.
Brandon Richardson snaked through the lane for an easy basket and, after Eshaunte Jones went high to rebound Harris' missed 3-pointer, Jeter bulled in for another length-of-the-court layup to make it 49-43 with 4:30 left.
Turgeon called Jeter a "one-man fast break."
"When I feel I have the advantage, Coach gives me the opportunity to go all the way," Jeter said. "Some (defenders) stand there. Some don't. If they do, hopefully I get the and-one. If not, I get an easy basket."
That sequence led the juiced crowd of 10,539 to begin chanting "HUS-KER POW-ER, HUS-KER POW-ER."
Jeter said he and his teammates fed off the noise.
"It's so amazing," he said. "It makes you want to play defense. That's something we really take pride in."
The 6-foot-11 Diaz capitalized on his 3-inch advantage over Loubeau, converting entry passes from Jeter and Caleb Walker and finishing 7 of 15 from the field.
Diaz left the Devaney Center immediately after the game to catch a flight to Puerto Rico, where his aunt died Friday after an illness.
"He wanted to stay and play," Sadler said. "You saw a much more aggressive Brian Diaz tonight."
The Aggies led 31-24 at half. But the Huskers turned up the defense and shot better in the second half. They hit 50 percent after making just 9 of 24 shots in the first half.
"That's a great win for us," Richardson said. "I'm sure our team is going to celebrate this one."