KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Keandre Cook scored a career-high 22 points for Missouri State, but a strong surge by No. 24 Nebraska in the final 10 minutes sealed the Bears’ fate here Monday, falling 85-62 in the semifinals of the Hall of Fame Classic.
Jarred Dixon added 12 points for Missouri State (3-1) with Kabir Mohammed contributing 10 off the bench, and Obediah Church snagging a game-high 10 rebounds for Dana Ford’s squad.
It was Cook’s third straight 20-point scoring effort for the young Bears.
Nebraska (4-0) got a game-high 23 points from Isaac Copeland, Jr., with Glynn Watson, Jr., pouring in 16 points behind four 3-pointers.
The Cornhuskers shot 50.8 percent from the field and knocked down 13 triples while forcing 18 turnovers.
MSU stayed with the Big Ten squad for three-fourths of the contest, closing a seven-point halftime deficit to five early in the second half on a 3-pointer by Szymon Wojcik. A dunk by Church at the 16:30 mark later made it a 43-37 contest.
The Bears held off a 7-0 outburst by the Cornhuskers from there and rallied hard over the next four minutes. A fast-break layup by Webster reduced MSU’s deficit to nine. Cook added a traditional 3-point play at the 11:50 mark, and Dixon added a baseline floater moments later.
Cook’s free throw with 10:24 left made it a 58-49 contest with the Bears’ rally bringing the Sprint Center crowd to its feed.
However, Nebraska got back-to-back threes from Allen Thomas and Copeland on its next two trips to push its lead back to 15, and Missouri State was unable to keep pace down the stretch.
Nebraska outscored Missouri State 27-13 over the last 10 minutes.
Cook finished 3-of-8 from long range with a pair of bombs in the final eight minutes to show a spark from the colorfully-clad Bears in the closing moments.
Missouri State finished 24-of-59 (.407) from the field and 7-of-24 (.292) from long range. The Bears also converted 7-of-9 (.778) free throws with 38 rebounds.
The Cornhuskers made 31-of-61 shots overall and 13-of-13 (.394) from 3-point range and 10-of-16 (.625) from the stripe.
Early in the first half, the lead changed hands four times, including a traditional 3-point play by Webster that put Missouri State ahead 10-8 at the 14-minute mark. But the Cornhuskers retaliated with an 11-2 run to push ahead 19-12 four minutes later.
Dixon stopped the bleeding with a layup before the nine-minute mark, but Nebraska responded with seven straight for its biggest lead of the half, 26-14.
Cook helped lead the Bears back into in the last five minutes of the half, scoring nine of 14 Missouri State points before the intermission. His second trey of the opening stanza got the Bears within 29-26 at the 2:33 mark before Dixon’s triple in the final seconds of the period made it a 36-29 game at the break.
Missouri State continues play in the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame Classic, powered by ShotTracker, on Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. against the loser of the USC-Texas Tech Game.
(Information provided by Missouri State University)