Maric Leads Huskers to Second Exhibition Win

Sophomore center Aleks Maric poured in 22 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in only 25 minutes of action the Husker big men combined to outscore Holy Family 48-18 in the paint during Nebraska's 76-54 exhibition victory over the Tigers Saturday at the Bob Devaney SportsCenter.

Senior guard Jason Dourisseau added 14 points as the only other Husker in double-figures in a balanced night for the NU offense. Ten players scored for the Big Red, including seven with at least five points as the Huskers finished their exhibition season with a perfect 2-0 mark and improved to 41-5 all-time in exhibitions.

Ryan Haigh led Holy Family with 17 points, but was just 7-of-19 from the field, including 2-of-11 from behind the arc. The Tigers managed to shot just 34 percent for the game (21-of-62), while committing 23 turnovers.

In the first half, Holy Family shot just 30 percent from the field, including 3-of-17 from 3-point range. While the Tigers were content to settle for the long-range shot, the Huskers pounded the ball inside and enjoyed a 24-4 advantage in the paint, led by Maric who totaled 16 points and nine rebounds in 16 minutes in the opening frame. Maric finished 5-of-7 from the floor and a perfect 6-for-6 from the line in the period.

The Huskers' emphasis on attacking the basket also resulted in 14 free throw attempts for NU. Nebraska hit 10-of-14 shots from the charity stripe in the half, while Holy Family did not attempt a free throw in the opening 20 minutes.

Nebraska raced out to a quick 8-2 lead in the game's first five minutes, holding Holy Family to just 1-of-8 shooting to open the game, with the Tigers' lone basket coming on a layup following a Husker turnover. NU used two 6-0 spurts to build a 10-point lead at 14-4 before a Holy Family bucket from Dan Welch and a 3-pointer from Haigh cut the Huskers' lead in half.

In the opening 10 minutes, Haigh scored eight of HFU's first 12 points, while Maric dominated the low post, pouring in eight points of his own on 3-of-4 shooting as the Huskers maintained their five-point lead.

Holy Family cut into the lead at 19-16 before a pair of baskets 33 seconds apart from senior forward Bronsen Schliep pushed the Huskers' lead to seven. The inside play of Schliep and Maric were part of a dominating effort in the paint for NU in the first 15 minutes of the contest as 18 of the Huskers' first 23 points came in the paint.

While NU relied on its inside game early, Holy Family looked to its perimeter game for scoring. The Tigers attempted 14

3-pointers in their first 27 field goal attempts, hitting three led by Haigh's 2-of-6 shooting. In the half, HFU was 3-for-17 from long range and 10-of-33 overall.

Leading 24-21 at the 5:16 mark, the Huskers' defense forced eight consecutive missed shots from Holy Family, while the Nebraska offense responded with 12 points to close out the period. Charles Hook nailed a jumper with three seconds left on the clock to end a 5:13 scoring drought for Holy Family and stop the Huskers' 12-0 run, while cutting NU's lead to 36-23 at the half.

Nebraska carried over its solid play to the second half, where the Huskers extended their 13-point halftime lead to 20 at the 15:41 mark with a 12-5 run to open the second period. Leading 44-28, Dourisseau stole the ball at midcourt and slammed home a one-handed tomahawk jam, then followed that up with a layup on a Husker fastbreak after another Tiger turnover to give NU the 20-point advantage.

The Huskers built a 23-point lead when they led 59-36 with 9:23 remaining in the game following a Maric offensive rebound and put back. That play gave Maric his 20th rebound and his 22nd point. Maric pulled down five rebounds in the first 2:30 of the second half to record his double-double. When NU took a timeout with 17:41 left, the Sydney, Australia, native had already tallied 16 points and 14 boards.

A Jamel White 3-pointer with less than five minutes remaining extended Nebraska's lead to 70-43 and was White's ninth point of the game on 3-of-4 shooting. A Marcus Walker trey a minute later pushed the Huskers' lead to 29, the largest of the game.

An alley-oop dunk from senior forward Wes Wilkinson off a perfect feed from freshman guard Mike Smith punctuated a sound effort from NU in its second and final exhibition of the season. The Huskers committed 12 fewer turnovers than Holy Family, while recording a plus-16 advantage in rebounding.

Nebraska opens the regular season next weekend when it hosts the John Thompson Foundation Basketball Challenge at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. The Huskers open the tournament with a 7 p.m. match with Longwood on Nov. 18 and Yale and Louisiana Tech meet in the second game of the Classic, with tip-off set for 9:20 p.m.

Nebraska Coach Barry Collier Quotes

Opening statement

"I thought that our team struggled to score, but we rebounded well and our defense was solid against a team with two good shooting guards.  We were also able to play everyone that was available to us.  Aleks (Maric) was tough on the board and got a lot of his (22) points off offensive rebounds.  Another important thing was that, as a team, we took better care of the ball."

On Aleks Maric

"As good as he looked by the numbers, I've seen Aleks play a lot better even in the last four months.  He made a big step tonight with his presence on the offensive boards.  He's become a better athlete since last season.  He's worked to change his body to make it better.  Aleks feels more comfortable out there, though he still has occasional lapses.  He's built off the experience he gained as a freshman in going through the Big 12 schedule, but he needs to keep working so that he's more comfortable with the ball."

On the two exhibition games

"These two teams (Holy Family and Nebraska-Omaha) were good for us.  They'll be successful in their respective seasons.  These teams are organized and in shape.  It matters that you take care of the ball against these guys."

On Marcus Walker

"He did a good job.  Marcus did a better job with his ball distribution and in running the offense.  Marcus gets better and he made a perimeter shot tonight, so that will build his confidence."

Nebraska Player Quotes

Sophomore center Aleks Maric

Did Coach Collier light a fire under him in practice this week

"He is just trying to get us ready as much as he can. He is trying to wake us up and obviously he did that this week in practice."

On if he thinks the team is where he thought they would be after two exhibition games

"I thought it was a big difference from the performance against UNO. We played a full 40 minutes this time and we executed what we wanted to and our defense was better also. It was a great effort by the team."

On if the team was disgusted with its effort after the UNO game

"We weren't disgusted, we just thought we let ourselves down as a team. We know we have the talent and depth to do a lot better than we did. So we came out this week and practiced harder and harder to get ready for a good team (tonight)."

On if he has numbers in mind of what he wants to accomplish each game

"Personally I just want to win. That is my goal. Obviously my strength is rebounding and I do what I can to give it 110 percent, but my main goal is to win."

On if he is excited to play games that count now

"Yes. We have three great teams coming in here next weekend and we are going to get ready for them in practice this week."

On how the team is fitting together

"I think our team chemistry is great this year. The older guys are helping out the younger guys and we are great friends off the court and a great team on the court. We have a lot of potential and we just have to put it together and work hard."

Holy Family Coach Alfred Johnson Quotes

On the game

"The key was their size and physicalness. They are a very strong, big and talented team. It was a great experience for our kids. I loved the way we fought and hung in there."

On Aleks Maric

"He played a great game. Not only is he big and strong, but he's a heckuva player and will continue to get better. He had a great summer and just continued his great play tonight. He played super."

On the Huskers' depth in the frontcourt

"We got into some foul trouble and had to go to the bench. When we went to the bench, we went from [players who were] 6-9 to [players who were] 6-4, whereas they went from 6-11 to 6-9, which is a big difference."


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