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The Huskers, who came in shooting 31 percent on 3-pointers in conference games, made 7 of 14 in the first half while getting out to a 35-30 lead.

The Gophers wouldn’t have been that close if it weren’t for Smith, who matched his season high for 3-pointers with five in the opening 20 minutes.

Nebraska fans razzed Minnesota center Elliott Eliason, a Chadron native who took a scholarship offer from Minnesota instead of Nebraska. He drew boos whenever he touched the ball and went to the bench with four fouls with 5:14 to play. He finished with five points and four rebounds.

“I thought we played hard and didn’t give up, but they really made some big-time shots and they did a great job preparing,” Pitino said. “I can’t say enough about coach Miles. He took over a tough situation, but he’s building it the right way. I have no doubt they’ll continue to improve.”