Huskers Run Past the Jackrabbits

Four players scored in double figures and the Huskers posted a decisive edge in the transition game, as the Nebraska men's basketball team bounced back from its first loss of the season with a 76-67 win over South Dakota State Thursday at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.

NU moved to 6-1 on the season with the victory, while the Jackrabbits dropped to 1-7.


Senior forward Wes Wilkinson posted his second straight double-double with a game-high 17 points and 10 rebounds, while senior forward Jason Dourisseau and sophomore guard Joe McCray each added 12 points to power the Huskers. Freshman point guard Marcus Walker chipped in 11 points and junior forward B.J. Walker finished with eight points and a career-high 11 boards in his first career start.


NU made its mark by dominating SDSU in the transition game to regroup from Sunday's loss to UAB. While the Huskers lost the rebounding battle, 49-45, they posted a 14-0 advantage over the Jacks in fastbreak points.


Trailing 34-26 at the half, SDSU came out firing in the second period and quickly cutNebraska's lead to three points at 36-33 with help from a 3-pointer from junior forward Ben Behran and a pair of jumpers by junior center Mohammed Berte, who led the Jacks with 14 points.


NU quickly responded with a thunderous dunk by Wilkinson and two layups from sophomore center Aleks Maric. Maric added a free throw after his second layup to push NU's lead back to nine at 42-33. Nebraska did not look back from there, shooting 52 percent from the field in the second half.


The Huskers put together another big run to extend their lead to 55-40 with just under 13 minutes remaining. Following Wilkinson's second 3-pointer of the game, Dourisseau notched a layup and a free throw before McCray gave NU a 15-point lead with a layup of his own.


Sophomore forward Michael Loney tried to keep SDSU close, as he drilled his first trey and added two free throws to cut Nebraska 's lead to 11 with 9:18 remaining. The Huskers were able to answer with a jumper from Marcus Walker and a free throw by B.J. Walker to put NU back up by 14 with just over eight minutes to play. The lead extended to 17 after McCray added his second 3-pointer of the night.


The Jacks made one final run at the Huskers by cutting the lead to seven with an eight-point streak with just over four minutes left. Junior guard Eric Heien, who shot 4-for-6 from behind the arc, nailed a pair of 3-pointers to close the gap to 66-59 after freshman guard Matt Caldwell started the rally with a jumper to the right of the free-throw line.


Nebraska missed a chance to ice the game at the charity stripe with a 1-for-3 effort on subsequent possessions, but aggressive work on the offensive glass kept the ball in the Huskers' grasp. Wilkinson's 3-pointer at 2:51 put NU up 72-59. The two teams traded points down the stretch to close out the contest.


Both teams started the game cold from the floor, combining to shoot 2-for13 from the field in the game's first four minutes. SDSU slowly built an 8-4 lead by the 11:42 mark after B.J. Walker opened the scoring with a turnaround jumper from the right block.


The Huskers went 2-for-10 from the floor in the early going before Marcus Walker provided a spark to key a 9-0 run. Walker hit a 3-pointer from the left corner, then nailed a pair of free throws after a transition seal and subsequent drive to the bucket. The true freshman then hit another jumper to give Nebraska a 13-8 advantage at the 9:38 mark.


Following a Loney jumper that stopped the run, McCray continued the Huskers' hot streak, including scoring on a driving layup and a foul shot, to give NU an eight-point lead. Heien ended the streak for the Jacks with his first trey of the game, while junior guard Jose Frias added two free throws on the following possession.


After SDSU cut Nebraska's lead to five, NUresponded by pushing the lead to 10 at 25-15 after junior guard Marcus Perry drained a 3-pointer and McCray added a layup off a steal.


NU controlled the game's tempo following its cold stretch to open the game. While the Huskers were outrebounded, 27-22, in the first half, they won the turnover battle, 8-4, and posted a 13-2 advantage in points off turnovers.


Nebraska eventually pushed the lead to 12 before the Jackrabbits responded with a run of their own. Beran and Heien each drilled 3-pointers, and Berte later added a layup as the lead dwindled to four with 1:31 remaining in the first period. The Huskers finished the half with a four-point run on buckets from freshman point guard Jamel White and Marcus Walker for an eight-point advantage at 34-26.


Next up for Nebraska is its annual in-state matchup with Creighton on Sunday. The Huskers meet the Bluejays at 1 p.m. at the Qwest Center in Omaha.


Box Score


Nebraska Postgame Notes

• Guard Charles Richardson Jr. made his first start of the season and 13th of his career. Richardson was not the only first-time starter as junior college transfer B.J. Walker made his first career start, giving the Huskers their third different starting lineup of the season.  

Nebraska scored 34 points in the first half on 13-of-36 shooting. Nebraska started the game 2-of-10 from the floor. The Huskers had scored 48 and 41 points in the first half of the last two games, respectively.  

• Senior forward Wes Wilkinson had three blocks in the game, including two in the first period. Wilkinson led the Big 12 Conference in blocks with 2.60 bpg entering the contest. Only four players in the league have recorded at least 2.0 blocks per game so far this season.  

• Wilkinson had not collected a double-double in his first 90 career games but with 17 points and 10 rebounds has now had a double-double each of the past two games. 

• Freshman Marcus Walker recorded his second straight double-figure scoring night of the season with 11 points, one off his career high of 12 set against UAB.  

• B.J. Walker set a career high with a team-best 11 rebounds, bettering his previous best mark of eight against Marquette. Walker is the third Husker to record double-figure rebounds in a game this season, along with Aleks Maric and Wes Wilkinson.  

• Joe McCray finished with 12 points, just two off his season high of 14 set in the Huskers' season opener against Longwood.  

Richardson tied his season high with four assists and now has 11 assists against four turnovers this season. 

Nebraska Coach Barry Collier quotes
Opening statement
"I thought we played well in a couple of spurts and could have had an overall better defensive result but we were not in position consistently. There were a lot of rebounds because there were a lot of missed but South Dakota State got to a lot of them. But again, I thought we had a couple pretty good spurts." 

On the team's mindset playing a 1-6 opponent
"It is really tough to read people's minds and I can't really point to a reason on why we didn't have more intensity. We had a different lineup and it didn't produce a better result in my opinion. We need to find a way to do a better job with that."

On the new startling lineup
"B.J. (Walker) had been playing really well and if there was six starters Joe McCray would have been the sixth man. Joe had not been playing very well but he played a lot better tonight. Hopefully he is now on his way back."

On playing Creighton
"I am excited about this game and I think the players are too and now we can shift our focus to Sunday. I have been impressed with Dana (Altman) both professionally and personally for a long time. They do a good job executing and as of right now Nate (Funk) is playing this Sunday and we are going to prepare that way. It will be a great atmosphere with a big crowd and we are going to have to play our best game to win in that environment."

Forward Wes Wilkinson
On the game
"We shot the ball real flat tonight and we didn't play good defense in the first half. We have to take it game by game."

On facing Creighton on Sunday
"We definitely want to get a win. It's a big game, they'll give us everything they have got and we've got to play well."

On the atmosphere for the Creighton game
"It will be like a Big 12 atmosphere. It will be a great crowd. Creighton is a good team and it will really be like a Big 12 atmosphere."

On his good start to the season
"It was a lot of hard work over the summer. I have been more aggressive and have been trying to play hard. It has been kind of a gradual thing."

On Joe McCray's game
"It is important for Joe to gain confidence shooting the ball. I wish you guys could have seen him in practice yesterday because he couldn't miss. He'll be back and he'll keep shooting the ball."

SDSU Head Coach Scott Nagy quotes
Thoughts on the game
"I was frustrated because I felt like we gave the game away.  We had three or four turnovers at the end of the first half and that really cost us.  We should have been up by eight at the half.  I am proud of our kids, but I don't want them to settle for losing at Nebraska.  We were messing up not because we were playing Nebraska, but because we were not doing what we should do.  It's a fine line I have to walk between kicking them in the rear and patting them on the rear."

On SDSU's offense
"We need to figure out how to stay out of foul trouble.  They beat us in the open floor.  When we took quick shots they were able to get into a transition game."

On Husker forward B.J. Walker
"They didn't really hurt us from the inside.  They beat us in the transition game.  They have really good athletes.  In the last eight minutes we gave up less turnovers and that led to less fast break points.  That got us back in the game."

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