Dupree McBrayer leads Minnesota to big win days after mom’s death

Carlos Gonzalez/Star Tribune via AP
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Minnesota landed a come-from-behind win over No. 24 Nebraska in The Barn on Wednesday night, erasing a 13-point second half deficit to beat the Huskers 85-78.

The win was particularly emotional for Minnesota’s senior point guard Dupree McBrayer. After a months-long battle with cancer, his mother, Tayra McFarlane, passed away on Monday. She was 58 years old.

“Heartbroken to say the least,” he tweeted on Tuesday. “Woke up thinking yesterday was a dream but it finally hit me. Reality sets in and my mother is gone. RIP Momma and I hope to make you proud everyday.”

The Nebraska program wore t-shirts emblazoned with RIP Tayra to warm-up in on Wednesday:

“In 2014-15, we had a couple players lose [parents],” Nebraska head coach Tim Miles said after the game. “It felt like the right thing to do.”

McBrayer didn’t just play on Wednesday night, he played well. He had four first half assists and buried a three in the second half that helped cap the comeback and seal the win.

“I thought that shot he hit late was quite a moment,” Miles said. “I couldn’t help but think for a brief moment what that was about.”

“It was heartbreaking to see,” Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said after the game, tears in his eyes. “One of my favorite moms. She was a cool lady and raised a great kid. I don’t care about basketball. She raised a really, really good kid.”

McFarlane worked at Rikers Island in New York City for three decades while raising Dupree and his two older brothers. She had recently retired, Pitino said, so that she would have more free time to travel the country and watch her youngest’s senior season.

After the game, McBrayer, clearly emotional, got hugs from everyone on both teams.

“The gas was off and the electric was off,” McBrayer told the Minneapolis Star Tribune earlier this season. “But she would try to earn enough to get it back on. She did the best she could to put me through the best life. I couldn’t be more thankful to her.”