McCray leads Huskers in victory over Montana State

Joe McCray's 19 points led four Huskers in double figures, as Nebraska tuned up for its Big 12 opener with a 78-45 victory over Montana State in front of a crowd of 5,816 at the Devaney Center Sunday afternoon.

The Huskers, who improved to 6-4 on the season, took control of the contest with a 9-0 run to open the second half . The surge turned a 36-25 lead into a 20-point  advantage over the Bobcats (5-8).

McCray hit 7-of-14 shots from the floor, including a trio of  three-pointers, as the freshman fell one point shy of his fourth 20-point game of the season.  McCray also added four rebounds and three assists to spark the Huskers in the first half, while the duo of John Turek and Wes Wilkinson provided a big boost inside.

Turek totaled a season-high 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting in just 19 minutes of action, while Wilkinson matched career bests in points (13) and rebounds (eight) and added a career-high three steals. Wilkinson also blocked  three shots and came off the bench to help Nebraska outscore Montana State 42-20 in the second half.

Nebraska , which has held five of its 1opponents to 50 points or less, forced MSU into a season-low 30.0  percent shooting, including just 5-of-23 from  three-point range.  Montana State's 30 percent shooting was the second-lowest by a Husker opponent in 200-05, as Morgan State shot just 23.5 percent on Dec. 6.

Branden Miller paced the Bobcats with 10 points, but hit just 4-of-16 shots from the field. No other MSU player finished in double figures.  

Leading 36-25 at intermission, Nebraska blitzed MSU for nine straight points to open the second half, holding the visitors without a point for the first 4:18 of the period. Marcus Neal Jr. capped the 9-0 Husker run with five straight points, including a three-pointer that gave the Huskers a 45-25 cushion.

The run put the game out of reach as NU led by at least 17 points the rest of the way and led by as much as 35 points down the stretch.

The Huskers, who never trailed, came out firing, hitting their first four  three-point attempts and quickly built a double-figure lead. Neal drained consecutive three-pointers early on, while McCray totaled 10 of his 12 first-half points in helping Nebraska take a commanding 27-12 lead with 7:37 left in the half.

The Bobcats clawed back, scoring nine unanswered points to get within 27-21 after a Ryan Holmes jumper with 5:11 left in the half. A pair of Ja'Ron Jefferson free throws put MSU within 30-23 before baskets by Wilkinson and Bronsen Schliep and two Jake Muhleisen free throws pushed the Husker lead to 36-23 with 10 seconds left before halftime.

The Huskers open Big 12 play Saturday, Jan. 8, when they play host to Kansas State at the Bob Devaney Sports Center . The game tips off at 7:05 p.m. and can be heard on the Pinnacle Sports Network and Huskers.com. 

 

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