"A lot of people came to see Coach Knight. That may be the understatement of the year. But the truth of the matter is they came to cheer for us against him," said Cary Cochran, who led Nebraska with 19 points. "We'll take fans any way we can get them."
John Robinson and Brennon Clemmons each scored 13 points and Jon Turek had 10 rebounds as the Cornhuskers (10-9, 3-5 Big 12) won consecutive games for the first time in conference play. It was also Nebraska's first win in five games against ranked opponents this season.
"I think they're all really big when you win a league game. But it gets people's attention when you win against a ranked team," Nebraska coach Barry Collier said. "I don't want to make this more than it is."
Andre Emmett scored 17 points and Andy Ellis had 16 points and eight rebounds for the Raiders (15-4, 4-3), who had 20 turnovers and never recovered from a sluggish start in the second half.
"In a game it's simply electric energy. They had it and we didn't," Knight said. "We had three of four guys who just didn't play very well."
The crowd of 13,530 was Nebraska's largest since Kansas visited Lincoln in 1999. Fans braved a winter storm to see Knight coach his first game in Lincoln and the Raiders play their first game as a ranked team in five years.
Knight drew a slight round of "boos" when Tech took the floor and a few heckles from fans in the student section, who wore orange vests in reference to Knight's 1999 hunting accident.
"I thought it was a great basketball crowd. Unfortunately it wasn't for us," Knight said.
The Huskers took advantage of the big turnout with a 22-6 run to open the second half. Nebraska, which shot just 35 percent in the first half, was 9-of-12 in the first seven minutes of the second half, including 4-for-7 from 3-point range.
Tech, meanwhile, was just 3-for-16 while falling behind by 20 points.
The Raiders regained their shooting touch and cut the lead to 56-64 on six straight points by Ellis with 8:05 left.
Nebraska went 0-for-13 during a scoreless stretch that lasted 7:37. Wilson Thomas stopped the skid with two free throws with 5:35 to go, then put back a rebound that gave Nebraska a 66-56 lead.
Tech drew within 68-61 on two free throws by Ellis, but Thomas made two free throws with 1:54 left and Ellis was called for goaltending on a layup by Robinson to put Nebraska back up by double digits.
"It may have of the funnest games I've ever been a part of. I'll remember that one for a while," Cochran said.
Turek and Clemmons each added layups to put Nebraska up 76-63 with less than a minute to play, prompting cheers of "over-rated" from crowd, which rushed the floor when the buzzer sounded.
"We've been picking it up each game. It's our turn now," said Clemmons, who got seven stitches in his left eyebrow after a collision midway through the second half. "I think we can play with anybody in our conference. We're not dead last like everybody was picking us to be in the preseason."
Nebraska had not won consecutive games since beating Western Illinois and Oral Roberts in early December. It was the Huskers' first win over a ranked opponent since Nebraska upset No. 23 Texas last season.
Jake Muhleisen scored 11 points for Nebraska and Kasib Powell added 13 points for Tech.
Knight was short when asked after the game what the Raiders did as they tried to rally.
"A lot of things -- none of which worked," he said.