Huskers ease past Cougars

Lincoln -- Senior forward Wes Wilkinson scored 20 points and sophomore guard Joe McCray added a season-high 19, as the Nebraska men's basketball team downed Chicago State, 76-65, Saturday night at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.

NU rebounded from its second loss of the season by shooting a season-high 52.8 percent from the field against the Cougars. While the Huskers were sizzling from the field, their big men were dominating inside, helping the squad to a 40-16 rebounding edge and 30-14 scoring advantage in the paint. 

Freshman point guard Marcus Walker chipped in 11 points and four assists for the Huskers, while senior guard Jason Dourisseau pulled down a game-high nine boards.  

Junior guard Royce Parran led CSU with a game-high 25 points on 9-of-16 shooting, including a 6-for-9 effort from 3-point land, while sophomore guard David Holston and junior guard Kevin Jones Jr. added 11 and 10 points, respectively. 

Leading by only one at halftime, 35-34, Nebraska came out of the locker room with a red-hot hand from the floor. McCray put the Huskers up by four on his third 3-pointer with just over 17 minutes remaining, while NU pushed its lead to six on a Marcus Walker jump shot. CSU's Kevin Jones Jr. cut the deficit in half with a trey on the Cougars' ensuing possession.  

The Huskers then rattled off an eight-point run to build an 11-point lead and take control of the game. Wilkinson started the streak with a 3-pointer to help NU regain its six-point cushion. The lead was extended to eight on a McCray layup at the 12:45 mark, before Wilkinson drilled his third trey of the game.  

After a pair of foul shots by Jones Jr. ended the run, Marcus Walker sank a jumper and senior point guard Charles Richardson Jr. added a pair of free throws to give Nebraska its biggest lead, 59-46, with 10:30 remaining. Chicago State was held without a field goal for more than four and one-half minutes during the crucial stretch. 

While CSU eventually cut NU's lead to eight on Holston 's third 3-pointer at the 3:25 mark, the Huskers' advantage on the boards proved to be too much for the Cougars. Following a McCray misfire from behind the arc, junior forward B.J. Walker was fouled after grabbing his third offensive board of the night and sank a pair of free throws to push the lead back to 10 with just over two minutes left. 

Both teams shot lights-out in the first half. The Huskers hit at a 56 percent clip, while the Cougars shot 57 percent, including a 6-for-9 effort from behind the arc. Parran, who did not start the game, was CSU's main weapon, as he nailed four of five treys for a game-high 17 first-half points. He helped the Cougar bench post a 23-3 first-half advantage in bench points. 

Nebraska opened the game with the hot touch, scoring on its first three times down the floor, while forcing three turnovers on CSU's first four possessions. McCray opened the scoring with a long baseline jumper on the Huskers' first possession. B.J. Walker followed with a turnaround hook shot off the glass to give NU a quick 4-0 lead less than two minutes into the game. The Nebraska defense then forced a shot-clock violation before Marcus Walker drove the length of the floor for a layup. Wilkinson later added a basket to give the Huskers an 8-0 lead before the 16-minute mark. Senior forward Nikko Briteramos finally put the Cougars on the board with a 1-for-2 effort from the free-throw line, and Parran followed with a trey on their next possession. 

With Nebraska leading, 16-13, at the 10:30 mark, Wilkinson ended a 9-3 CSU run with a short jumper off the glass. Holston answered with a jumper of his own before Wilkinson forced a steal and drove the floor for a dunk to put NU back up by five. Parran followed with his third 3-pointer of the first half to cut the lead to two, but freshman forward Kyle Marks slammed home an alley-oop pass from fellow freshman Jamel White on the Huskers' ensuing possession.  

After Marcus Walker hit a transition pull-up jumper from the foul line to give NU a one-point lead, 24-23, Chicago State went on a 10-2 run in less than two minutes. Holston nailed a pair of 3-pointers, while Parran added two transition buckets, to push the Cougars' lead to seven, 33-26, with three minutes remaining in the half.  

Wilkinson ended the run with a transition dunk that he followed with a foul shot. NU then forced a CSU turnover before McCray iced a pair of free throws to cut the lead to two. McCray would later tie the game at 34-34 with 55 seconds remaining on his second trey of the first half. Senior forward Bronson Schliep put the Huskers back on top on a free throw after being fouled in the paint with only two seconds remaining in the half. 

Nebraska returns to the Devaney Center floor Monday for a 7 p.m. matchup against North Carolina A&T. The game will be seen in the state of Nebraska on FSN Midwest.  


Nebraska Postgame Notes

Nebraska used its fifth different lineup in nine games, as the Huskers started Jason Dourisseau, Marcus Walker, Joe McCray, B.J. Walker and Wes Wilkinson. It was B.J. Walker's second career start and the seventh Marcus Walker's career after coming off the bench each of the past two games.

 • Sophomore guard Joe McCray finished the game with 19 points on 6-of-14 shooting, including hitting 3-of-8 from 3-point range. McCray, who recorded 12 points with three assists and two steals in the first half, needs one 3-pointer to tie for 10th place on the Nebraska career chart for made 3-pointers as he now has 94 in his career.  

• Wes Wilkinson had his streak of double-figure rebounding games snapped at three as he recorded seven boards to go with 20 points and two blocked shots. Wilkinson, who leads the Big 12 Conference in 3-point percentage and blocked shots, was 5-of-9 from the floor in the first period and finished 8-of-13 from the floor.  

• Wilkinson recorded his third 20-point effort of his career and his second of the season. It was also the sixth time this season he had at least two blocked shots in a contest, including each of the past five.

Nebraska hit 52.8 percent for the game, a season high. The Huskers hit 56.0 percent from the floor in the opening frame, the second-highest percentage for any half this year and the third time this season NU hit better than 50.0 percent from the floor, with all three coming in the first period.  

Nebraska allowed Chicago State to hit an opponent season-high 57.1 percent from the field in the opening frame. It was only the second time this season the Huskers had allowed an opponent to hit 50.0 percent or better for a half. CSU finished by hitting 47.9 percent from the floor after going 11-of-27 from the field in the second period.  

• The 47.9 percent is a Nebraska opponent high this year and only the second time this season the Huskers have allowed a team to hit better than 40 percent from the field.   

Nebraska improved to 2-0 all-time against Chicago State, with both wins coming at the Devaney Center . The Huskers also improved to 7-1 this season when holding a lead at the intermission.  

Nebraska took four charges (Charles Richardson Jr. 2, Jamel White 1, Marcus Walker 1), marking the fourth time this season the Huskers had at least three charges in a game, and the second time they had at least four charges in a contest.

 Nebraska Coach Barry Collier quotes
Opening Statement

"I thought we had some pretty good plays tonight against a team that's really hard to guard with its quickness and penchant for shooting threes. They shot them really well, I know that. Too many of them were when we weren't into them enough off a screen or playing quite tight enough. But some of them were just long (shots). We had some good balance offensively, and we played a little more poised. We turned the ball over a couple of times on the break, which is not good. I'm hoping we can continue to work on that."

On rebounding from the Creighton loss:
"I thought we had some good practices, but we had some good practices last week, too. We gave a much better effort and we did a lot more good things tonight."

On the concern of not winning games big:
"No, not really. We play to get a big lead there midway through the (second) half, and they drain some threes in and come back on us. Our goal is to win by one or more. We'd love to play great on every possession, both ends of the floor, but we have to live with what we do."

On coming back from the first-half deficit:
"I think the start of the second half was key, as well. But being down like we were, I just felt that we had a stretch there where we mishandled the ball a time or two, we didn't defend and cut off the screen. So when we came back, I thought most of our veterans established themselves well, and I thought we got good play out of Kyle Marks."

On Aleks Maric:
"He was injured in practice yesterday. We tried to see if he could go tonight, but he couldn't. Hopefully soon he will be back." 

Nebraska player quotes
Forward Wes Wilkinson
On letting Chicago State back in the game in the second period
"We came out and played with more intensity but we were just not consistent enough throughout the game. But they made shots late in the half and that helped them. You have to credit them because they hit big 3-pointers. We did not do a very good job trailing and getting a hand in their face. We just need to pick it up on the defensive end."

On if the team panicked late in the first half when CSU made a run to take the lead
"We could have panicked but we talked about that in practice and before games. There is a point in a game where you break or you come back. I was pleased with the way we came back tonight."

On whether it was tough to get going without a big crowd
"It was not after a blowout loss to Creighton. We had to prove something to ourselves and it was important for us to get on the floor and just play with intensity, so the size of the crowd did not matter."

Guard Charles Richardson Jr.
On know Chicago State's team and mentality since he's from the Chicago area
"I knew about 50 percent of the team and know the point guard fairly well. I told our team that they would not be bashful about shooting the ball. They came out gunning and made us think the worse."

On what the team was thinking when it went down seven points in the first half
"I didn't know we were down seven points until a timeout, but I told everyone on the bench that when we get back in the game, we have to get it under control. I just wanted to bring some intensity and effort off the bench and be a spark."

On if finals were a distraction this week during practice
"We have practiced fairly well this week even with finals going on. They have been shorter practices and help us come out and get off and get a better effort. "

Chicago State Head Coach Kevin Jones quotes
On the game
"I knew coming in that this game would be tough, but I felt like we put ourselves in a position to win.  If not for them beating us in rebounding, we may have won the game.  They simply had better inside players than us tonight.  I'm pleased with our effort.  We never gave up during the game.  We weren't expected to win, but we put ourselves in a position to win."

On the performance of Royce Parran and Chicago State's backcourt
"He did everything that we needed him to do tonight.  He didn't start because of disciplinary reasons after the Louisville game, but Parran and the rest of our guards were great tonight.  We depend on our guards solely tonight, because our inside guys aren't giving us what we need right now."

On playing a difficult non-conference schedule
"We have set up a difficult non-conference schedule because we want to play in the best atmospheres so that we'll be able to compete in the conference."

On Nebraska compared to other opponents
"This is a well-coached team.  Wes Wilkinson is one of the best inside guys that we've faced this year.  He's able to handle the ball well and shoot for a big guy."

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