Walker Leads Huskers Past Bulldogs

LINCOLN--Freshman point guard Marcus Walker notched his second straight career-high scoring effort, and sophomore guard Joe McCray added his second career double-double, as the Nebraska men's basketball team held on for a 67-60 win against Alabama A&M Wednesday night at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.

Walker scored a career-best 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting to propel the Huskers (9-2) to their third straight win. McCray collected 14 points and a season-high 10 rebounds, while senior forward Wes Wilkinson added 15 points. The trio was lethal from behind the arc, combining to shoot 8-for-15 on 3-pointers.

 

Senior forward Joe Martin, the nation's leader in rebounding average, notched 16 points and a game-high 14 boards for the Bulldogs (2-3), while Obie Trotter and Michael Ford chipped in 14 and 12 points, respectively.

 

Leading by four at the start of the second half, Nebraska steadily built an eight-point lead. After the two teams traded buckets to open the period, McCray hit his second 3-pointer of the game to put his team up seven. While sophomore Kudus Ogbura cut the lead to five with a jumper, Marcus Walker gave NU its then-biggest lead of eight points, 42-34, with his third 3-point basket from the top of the key four minutes into the half.

 

The Bulldogs cut the advantage to three on a trey by Trotter and a pair of foul shots by Ford, but McCray hit his third 3-pointer after a free throw from junior forward B.J. Walker to put the Huskers back up by seven, 46-39.

 

Nebraska put together a 10-2 run at the 12:29 mark of the second half to take control of the game. After Wilkinson drained his second from behind the arc to push NU's lead to double-digits, the Huskers surprised A&M with a trap defense to force a turnover that led to a Wilkinson dunk and a 53-41 advantage. NU held the Bulldogs without a field goal for nearly three and one-half minutes during the run. Following a Mickell Gladness jumper that ended the streak, McCray hit his fourth 3-pointer before Wilkinson gave the Huskers a 15-point edge, 58-43, with about nine minutes remaining on a short jumper in the paint.

 

A&M made a run near the end of the contest, cutting the lead to seven points, 65-58, with 33.6 seconds remaining, but Marcus Walker drained a pair of foul shots with 10 seconds left to seal the victory for Nebraska.

 

Alabama A&M grabbed an early lead coming out of the locker room, forcing Nebraska to call a timeout just more than 1:30 into the contest. Marcus Walker put NU on the board coming out of the break with a jump shot from two feet inside the arc, followed by a transition layup on the Huskers' following possession to tie the game. The freshman scored six of Nebraska's first eight points, mostly coming on the transition against the Bulldogs' full-court pressure defense.

                                                                                                                    

NU grabbed its first lead less than five minutes into the game, breaking an 8-8 tie. Senior forward Jason Dourisseau began the march with a transition dunk off a pass by freshman point guard Jamel White, and later added a layup after out-hussling A&M on the offensive glass. Following a Bulldog bucket, B.J. Walker hit a short jumper to give the Huskers a three-point lead midway through the first half.

 

Alabama A&M struck back to claim a two-point lead on back-to-back baskets by Martin, including one three-point play, but B.J. Walker tied the game at 18-18 on the ensuing possession with his second field goal of the first half. Miscues were costly for the Huskers early, as seven turnovers led to seven of the Bulldogs' first 18 points.

 

Nebraska asserted itself inside late in the half, as freshman forward Kyle Marks entered the game and put his team up by two with a layup, before adding a free throw following an A&M intentional foul. Marcus Walker then gave the Huskers a six-point lead on his first 3-pointer with 5:07 remaining in the half after Wilkinson pulled down an offensive board.

 

The Bulldogs quickly struck back on a basket by Martin, followed by Trotter's first trey and a transition layup by Ford, to retake a one-point lead. Marcus Walker then answered with his second 3-pointer, and Dourisseau added a layup on the following possession to give NU a 29-25 lead. McCray then drilled his first trey for a six-point lead before Trotter notched a layup with only three seconds remaining to make the score 32-28 at the break.

 

McCray has now hit at least three 3-pointers in his last three contests, after recording at least three treys just once in his first eight games.

 

The Huskers return to the court Saturday, Dec. 31, when they travel to Miami, Fla., to face Florida State in the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic. Tipoff is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Central Time, and the game will be televised in the state of Nebraska on FSN Midwest.

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