Nebraska over Marquette 84-74

Nebraska raced to a 19-point halftime lead and never looked back as three Huskers poured in 15 points apiece to lead Nebraska past Marquette, 84-74, Wednesday night at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.

With the win, Nebraska improved to a perfect 5-0 on the season, the Huskers' first 5-0 start since beginning the 2003-04 campaign with five consecutive victories and the third perfect record at the five-game mark under Coach Barry Collier. Marquette fell to 4-2 on the year in its first true road game.

 Senior forward Wes Wilkinson, junior forward B.J. Walker and sophomore center Aleks Maric each scored 15 points. Walker's 15 points and eight rebounds were a career high, while Maric pulled down 11 rebounds to post his third double-double of the young season. Senior guard Jason Dourisseau added 11 points in a balanced scoring effort for NU.

Nebraska's size paid dividends for the Big Red, as NU enjoyed a plus-nine rebounding advantage over Marquette, 49-40. The Huskers also scored 34 points in the paint to the Golden Eagles' 18 and poured in 20 second-chance points, while Marquette managed just eight.

Nebraska led for nearly the entire first half, exploding for 48 points in the opening period, the Huskers' highest point total in a half this season. NU hit 19-of-42 shots from the field for 45 percent, including 5-of-13 from beyond the arc. The Huskers hit the glass hard in the opening 20 minutes as well, out rebounding Marquette 27-10 and outscoring the Golden Eagles 15-2 on second-chance points.

Wilkinson and Walker paced the Huskers with 13 and 10 points, respectively, in the first half, with Walker adding five rebounds.

Dunks by Dourisseau and Maric gave Nebraska a quick 6-2 lead before Marquette answered with five points to take its first only lead of the game at 16:18 of the first half. Maric answered with a rebound and a put back to regain the lead for NU a possession later, a lead the Huskers would not relinquish.

Sophomore guard Joe McCray nailed a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 11-7 and the Huskers opened up a six-point lead at 16-10 after a basket from Maric and another 3-pointer from Wilkinson.

Junior guard Marcus Perry and freshman guard Jamel White buried back-to-back 3-pointers on consecutive Husker possessions to give NU a 26-14 lead and force the Golden Eagles to take a timeout with 11:03 remaining in the first half. Walker capped a 12-0 Husker run over a 2:18 stretch that gave NU a 28-14 lead with 10:30 remaining in the first period. After Marquette ended the run, Wilkinson answered with a 3-pointer to give Nebraska a 31-16 advantage.

Marquette cut the lead to single digits at 35-27 on a dunk by Dominic James with 5:33 remaining in the half. James was called for a technical foul on the dunk and Perry sank two free throws and McCray nailed a lay-up, as the Huskers capitalized with a four-point possession.

Nebraska closed the period with a 7-0 run to take a 48-29 lead into the locker room. The Huskers held Marquette without a field goal over the final 3:40, while Walker chipped in four points during the run.

The Huskers enjoyed their largest lead of the game with 18:25 left in the game after freshman guard Marcus Walker nailed a 3-pointer to give Nebraska a 53-31 lead. Marquette cut the lead to 12 at 55-43 with a 12-2 run, but Walker scored a pair of buckets to stall the comeback.

 After the Golden Eagles' run, the Nebraska defense turned up the heat, harassing Marquette to 0-of-11 shooting during a 5:59 stretch where MU did not record a field goal. When Wesley Matthews ended the drought, he cut the lead to 59-46 with 9:44 remaining.

Steve Novak cut the Huskers' lead to 10 with just over eight minutes left in the game after he hit an open 3-pointer. Jerel McNeal hit a pair of free throws to cut the lead to eight with 6:23 remaining and hit two more 25 seconds leader to pull the Golden Eagles to within six, the closest they had been since the 12:01 mark of the first half.

 Maric answered for NU with a lay-up off an assist from Dourisseau. Maric was fouled on the shot and converted the three-point play to push the lead back up to nine. Junior guard Charles Richardson Jr. was then fouled bringing the ball up the court and converted both ends of a one-and-one to give the Huskers a 67-56 lead with 5:23 left in the game.

Maric came up big for Nebraska again, rebounding a missed free throw from Perry and scoring a basket to put NU up 69-56. With the lead cut to 71-61, Maric nailed consecutive free throws to extend the Huskers' advantage.

James hit a 3-pointer for Marquette to make it a 10-point game and after a shot-clock violation on Nebraska, Matthews hit 1-of-2 from the charity stripe to cut the Huskers' lead to 75-66 with 2:12 remaining.

James banked in a long 3-pointer to make the score 77-69 with just 1:13 left in the game. The Huskers successfully broke the Golden Eagles' press on their next trip, culminating with a Wilkinson alley-oop dunk. Freshmen Jamel White and Marcus Walker then hit 4-of-4 free throws in the final 30 seconds to secure the Huskers' 84-74 victory.

Although Marquette put up 45 points in the second period, the Huskers held the Golden Eagles to 27 percent shooting from the field, but Marquette countered by hitting 17-of-22 free throws to keep the game in doubt.

Nebraska looks to remain perfect when the Huskers return to action Saturday for a 3 p.m. tip off against UAB at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.

Box Score

Nebraska Postgame Notes

Nebraska improved to 5-0 by scoring a season-high 84 points. It is the third time under Coach Barry Collier the Huskers have opened with five straight wins and the fourth time in the past 10 years overall.

Nebraska's 48 points in the first half were the most by the Huskers in any period this season. The previous high was 41 points in the opening half of the season against Longwood. The 48 points were also the most given up in a half by the Golden Eagles, surpassing the 43 points allowed when they trailed by one, 43-42, against South Carolina in the title game of the Great Alaska Shootout on Sunday.

Nebraska's 12-0 run between the 12:48 mark and 10:30 remaining in the first half tied for the Huskers' longest run without an opponent scoring this season. NU opened a 28-24 lead with the run. The last time NU had a 12-0 run was in the season opener when the Huskers defeated Longwood, 80-65.

Nebraska's 22-point lead at 53-31 tied the Huskers' largest lead of the year. NU also held a 22-point advantage over Longwood in the second half of the season opener.

• Guard Marcus Perry came off the bench to score seven points on 2-of-6 shooting. Perry hit one 3-pointer and has had at least one 3-pointer in three of the Huskers' five games this season. Perry also had three rebounds after recording just one board in the first four games combined.

•Senior forward Wes Wilkinson made his second consecutive start and 14th career start overall.  He finished with 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting and seven rebounds.

• Wilkinson tied his career high with five blocked shots in the game, marking the second time in his last three games he has had five blocks. He also had a career high five blocks against Yale before leaving with an injury. Wilkinson had four blocks in a game only once in his first 87 career contests, with that coming against Tennessee in 2003.

 • Forward B.J. Walker had 10 points in the first half and finished the game with 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting and added eight rebounds. The points and rebounds were both career highs.

 • Freshman Marcus Walker had a career-high six assists, bettering the mark set in the season opener against Longwood. Nebraska had 20 assists as a team, setting a season high with three more than its previous best of 17 set against Longwood.

 Nebraska's 21 offensive rebounds was a season high and the 49 rebounds were the most of the year, besting its previous high of 47 boards in the Longwood contest to open the season.

 • Sophomore center Aleks Maric recorded his team-high third double-double of the season with 15 points and 11 boards. Maric also tied his season and career high with three assists. Last year, Maric led Nebraska with three double-doubles on the campaign.

Nebraska Coach Barry Collier quotes
Opening statement
"I thought we played very well.  The first half we had a lot of energy and dominated the boards.  They turned that around in the second half but we were able to execute efficiently enough to hold on and get the win."

 On Marquette staying in the game
"Marquette is a very good team.  We expected them to fight.  We were obviously not making enough plays to keep them totally at bay and they just kept coming.  But I always say that we want to win by one or more and we were able to do that tonight."

 On Nebraska's improved play execution
"We've had more days to work on sets this past week and we were able to use some new things tonight.  So Marquette saw some things today that they wouldn't have seen on tape."

 On B.J. Walker
"He did a great job in terms of his effort and blocking out.  He is able to play down on the floor and get in there to maybe draw some attention off of Aleks (Maric) and that helps us out a lot."

 On Nebraska spreading points across the team
"We rode the momentum that was created at the beginning of the game.  A lot of people played well because of how we started out.  B.J. (Walker) had a great game.  Wes (Wilkinson) was good and so was Aleks (Maric).  There was a lot of good play across the board."

 Nebraska player quotes-Center Aleks Maric
On key baskets down the stretch
"It was like a dog going after a bone.  I go up and get the bone and then go back up strongly."

On B.J. Walker
"I think he did great.  He really played well and (his play) frees things up.  His play really helps lead one thing to another."

 On the team's first big test of the season
"Everyone responded well.  We all played with urgency and played hard.  I think it showed."

Forward B.J. Walker
On the end of the game
"I was getting nervous but we just kept our composure.  We didn't lose our heads and it showed."

On the rebound domination
"We feel that we shouldn't get out rebounded in any game.  Coach said that Marquette hits the glass hard.  We wanted to make rebounding a factor."

On what we learned as team
"I can see that we can be a really good team.  We didn't lose our composure at the end."

Marquette Coach Tom Crean quotes
On the effect of traveling on his team during the loss
"I'm not going to make that excuse. We have to work through that. It's always a challenge when you go that far and then decide to play a road game, but we wanted to do that. We wanted to be on the road and we wanted to have some preparation. It's the way that it worked out.

"We played very hard in the second half and really moved our feet well. I think what happened is we weren't very physical early, and they were. They were extremely good on the backboards. They were extremely good in getting (the ball) out and making the extra pass. We were late at getting on the shooters. We didn't control the dribble well enough, but really the rebounding was the story in the first half. As much better as we were in the second half, it was still the biggest story of the game and why we weren't successful tonight."

On his young team
"Our goal is to search for a 40-minute game. We learned a lot about that last week, and I think this is just one of the parts of it. When you do have a young team, they have to go through it, go through it and go through it before they really understand how important playing every possession is. That's part of the experience factor we have to go through.

 "We have this experience now, we have the experience from last week, but we lost to a good team. They are so much more athletic than they were a year ago. They are definitely more physical than they were. Those guys, when they were playing freshmen, like with Joe (McCray) and Aleks (Maric), those guys are now sophomores. (Jason) Dourisseau and Wes Wilkinson give them excellent leadership up front, the new guys are adjusting, and I think Charles Richardson really gave them a good game tonight."

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