"Overall, I can't say enough about our team," head coach Doc Sadler said. "They had a good week last week as far as effort was concerned, but we didn't get anything done that we set out to do. Then we turned around and came right back against a very good basketball team that was playing with a lot of confidence. I thought our guys rose to the occasion. I've said this - if we continue to improve, this team could be a good basketball team."
McCray, who played a season-high 30 minutes, was an impressive 8-of-14 from the floor and also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds, as the Huskers shot 56.6 percent from the floor and took advantage of its height inside. Brian Jorge Diaz hit 7-of-8 shots from the floor en route to 14 points, as the Huskers out-scored Colorado, 44-22 in the paint.
In addition to McCray and Diaz, senior guards Lance Jeter and Drake Beranek also pitched in 10 points apiece as Nebraska placed four Huskers in double figures. Jeter nearly produced a double-double, dishing out a season-high nine assists and grabbing six rebounds, while Beranek came off the bench to match his season high in points and pulled down four rebounds.
Nebraska, which led 31-30 at the break, used a 13-2 run to seize control of the game, as McCray's 3-pointer opened the run and the junior had five points to help the Huskers build a 46-35 advantage. The Huskers eventually pushed the lead to 17 before Alec Burks led a late Colorado comeback. He scored seven straight points to cut a 63-47 lead to nine points and his two free throws with 2:25 left made it an eight-point deficit at 67-59.
That would be as close as Colorado would get, as baskets by Brandon Richardson, McCray and Jeter pushed the lead back to 14 and ended the Buffaloes comeback bid. . The Huskers hit all six of their free throw attempts in the final 1:18 to maintain the double-digit margin, finishing the night 15-of-18 from the charity stripe.
Nebraska shot 56.6 percent for the game, including 64 percent in the second half in snapping a two-game losing streak.
Levi Knutson had 17 points for CU, while Alec Burks led the Buffs with a game-high 22, as Colorado was held under 70 points for just the second time this season. The Buffaloes entered the game ranked eighth nationally in points per game (83.9 ppg).
Much like the second half, Nebraska was off to a hot start from at the opening tip, hitting six of its first seven field goals en route to grabbing a 13-3 lead. The burst forced Colorado to take its first timeout just 3:52 into the game. After the Buffs regrouped, they scored four straight to cut NU's lead to 13-7 before McCray slammed home a Caleb Walker missed to make it 15-7. The Huskers ended up hitting 8-of-10 field goals to start game and take a 17-9 lead with seven points from McCray during the opening six minutes.
Colorado continued to chip away at Nebraska's lead and scored five straight to make it 17-14 before a lay-up from Andre Almeida and 3-pointer from Beranek pushed the Husker lead to eight at 22-14. Colorado then found its groove behind the arc and hit back-to-back 3-pointers from Andre Roberson and Marcus Relphorde to take its first lead of the game at 23-22 with 6:42 left. Knutson added another trey to give CU a 26-23 lead. Diaz went on to score four more points in the final five minutes, while Almeida hit a jumper in the paint with 22 seconds left to give NU a 31-30 halftime lead.
Nebraska now hits the road as it takes on Texas Tech this Saturday in Lubbock at 6:30 p.m. The game will not be televised, but it can be seen online on ESPN3.com and on ESPN Full Court. The next Husker home contest is slated for Saturday, Jan. 29 against No. 10 Texas A&M at 1 p.m.