Caupain leads No. 24 Cincinnati past Nebraska, 65-61

NEW YORK (AP) For a kid who grew up on Long Island, playing at Madison Square Garden is the dream.

Troy Caupin has a soft spot for Barclays Center after his performance Friday night.

''I like Brooklyn,'' Caupain said after scoring 17 points to help No. 24 Cincinnati beat Nebraska 65-61 in the Barclays Center Classic semifinals. ''It's newer.''

Shaq Thomas added 14 points, and Octavius Ellis had 12 for Cincinnati (6-0).

''Our big guys started to assert themselves,'' Bearcats coach Mick Cronin said. ''We're not very good if those guys can't score inside for us, and they did in the second half.''

Tai Webster scored 21 points for Nebraska (4-2), and Shavon Shields had 14.

''(Webster told) me after his first five points that he (felt) awful I said we (would) bring (him) out any time,'' Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. ''We tried to manage (Shields') fouls. He had two in about 2 minutes, so we were trying to manage all of that.

''I thought the kids really fought considering we were so undersized.''

The game was tied at 25 after a tight, defensive first half.

''They take things away from you,'' Cronin said about Nebraska. ''There's nothing easy. They had us running in circles in the first half.''

Nebraska took a 41-40 lead 8:08 into the second half when Shields converted Glynn Watson Jr.'s lob for an alley-oop jam.

The lead lasted all of 28 seconds. Troy Caupain's 3-pointer put Bearcats up again at 43-41.

Cincinnati outscored Nebraska 14-11 following Caupain's 3.

Ellis' layup with 5:30 left made it 53-49. The advantage grew to 57-49 on Ellis' half hook from the low post with 3:11 left.

''(He) understands that nobody can stop him with his length and his arms,'' Caupain said about Ellis. ''And the way he jumps, (Ellis) can be a wonderful player. At 6-10, when he plays 6-6, it's hard for him to score. When he plays with his head above the rim and his arms, he can score.

''That's what we tell him. `Stop short-arming your hook. Stop short-arming your little double-pump. Go up strong.'''

Nebraska cut the deficit to three, but got no closer.

''It was just that stretch from seven minutes to about 3 1/2 minutes,'' Miles said. ''They got the eight-point lead and we couldn't get it back in line.

''We just didn't do enough to win.''

UP NEXT:

Cincinnati will face George Washington in the championship game Saturday.

Nebraska will play Tennessee in the consolation game Saturday.

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