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Nebraska's Keisei Tominaga Finishes College Career With a Strong Performance in NCAA Tournament Loss

Senior guard Keisei Tominaga scored 21 points, including five 3-pointers, in the first round against Texas A&M in a tearful farewell to his college career.

University of Nebraska senior guard Keisei Tominaga had a strong performance in the final game of his college basketball career. 

Tominaga scored 21 points, including 5 of 11 from 3-point range in the Cornhuskers' 98-83 defeat to the Texas A&M Aggies in an NCAA Tournament first-round game in Memphis, Tennessee, on Friday night, March 22. (Watch game highlights on the NCAA website.)

It was a tearful farewell for Tominaga to Nebraska's coaching staff, teammates and fans.

Nebraska, appearing in its first NCAA Tournament game since 2014, trailed 58-44 at halftime. The South Region's eighth-seeded Cornhuskers ended their season with a 23-11 record.

Ninth-seeded Texas A&M, which improved to 21-14, advanced to play top-seeded Houston in the second round.

Nebraska trailed by as many as 22 points in the second half and cut the lead to 11 early in the second half. The Aggies' 13-for-23 3-point shooting played a key factor in their win.

A 'Tough Matchup' for the Cornhuskers

"Congrats to Texas A&M," Cornhuskers head coach Fred Hoiberg said after the game. "That team is playing as well as anybody in the country right now with the way they're shooting the ball. It's a tough matchup with the way they drive it. And when they're hitting shots, it's a very tough team to beat.

"I thought we got off to a great start. I was really pleased with how we came out with energy. We were shooting the ball well and unfortunately we just traded baskets."

Hoiberg added, "And Keisei got us off to a great start. Josiah [Allick] was all over the place on the glass, flying in there. Really proud of these two guys for everything that they accomplished this year. But at the end of the day it was a very tough matchup."

Keisei Tominaga
The Cornhuskers' Keisei Tominaga shoots the ball as Texas A&M guard Jace Carter defends in the first half. (John David Mercer/USA TODAY SPORTS)

Keisei Tominaga Scores 11 First-Half Points

Tominaga, playing in his third season for Nebraska, provided an early spark for the Cornhuskers by draining his first three 3-point attempts. Nebraska took a 20-13 lead on guard Brice Williams' 3-pointer with 15:04 to play in the first half.

But the lead slipped away as hot-shooting Texas A&M climbed in front 33-31 on a Wade Taylor 3-pointer at the 8:23 mark.

Tominaga, who had 11 points in the first half (only Williams had more points for Nebraska with 14 in the half), matched his career high with five 3-pointers. That's something he did eight times in his Cornhuskers career.

The Nagoya native wrapped up his Nebraska career with 1,074 points, placing him 30th on the school's all-time points list.

Keisei Tominaga
It was an emotional loss for Keisei Tominaga, who played his final collegiate game in Nebraska's NCAA Tournament opener on March 22. (USA TODAY/REUTERS/via KYODO)

In the postgame press conference, Tominaga didn't conceal the fact that he'll miss playing for the Cornhuskers.

"Of course it's sad that we lost," Tominaga told reporters at FedEx Forum, the home of the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies. "But it's also sad that I can't play for Coach Hoiberg anymore or play with my teammates. That's the [saddest] thing right now."

It's just a shoe!

Hoiberg Pays Tribute to Tominaga and Fellow Senior Allick

In the press conference, Hoiberg was asked to sum up the emotion of seeing Tominaga and Allick walk off the floor for the final time as seniors.

The former NBA player and coach then provided a thoughtful, eloquent answer, beginning his detailed remarks about Tominaga, a fan favorite in Lincoln, Nebraska.

"Those guys mean everything to me," Hoiberg said. "With Keisei, to see his growth over the last three years from when he came in very raw, didn't know the language very well, and to see him become a vocal leader for our team ― you see what he does on the court. His play speaks for itself. But what he has done from a leadership standpoint to how he has ingrained himself in the community, he's one of the most popular players not only in Nebraska but in the country."

Hoiberg will continue rooting for Tominaga, who is expected to suit up for Japan in the 12-nation tournament at the Paris Olympics. The tournament begins on July 27.

"I just love the kid," the veteran coach said. He added, "I told him in the locker room, he now gets to go represent his country in the Olympic Games. How cool is that, for Keisei now to move on to the next phase of his career? That's where it starts.

"And then hopefully get an opportunity with the way he shoots and the way he puts the ball in the basket to play in these types of arenas for a long time."


Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and X (formerly Twitter) @ed_odeven.


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