The Huskers beat Penn State for their first Big Ten victory
Lincoln. — Bo Spencer's 19 points led four Nebraska players in double figures, as the Huskers picked up their first-ever Big Ten win, a 70-58 decision over Penn State Wednesday night at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
The Huskers shot 55 percent on the night and got to the free throw line a season-high 29 times against the Nittany Lions in snapping a four-game losing streak Spencer was 10-of-12 from the charity stripe and 4-of-8 from the field while also dishing out a game-high five assists to pace the Big Red.
Seniors Toney McCray (13 points) and Caleb Walker (12 points) joined Spencer in double figures, while junior Dylan Talley came off the bench to score 12 points and grab five rebounds, as the quartet accounted for 56 points in the win.
Nebraska took control early, using a 14-2 spurt after Penn State jumped to a quick three-point lead. Baskets by Walker and Brandon Ubel got the Huskers going before a McCray 3-pointer and three foul shots by Spencer capped a run of 10 straight points to give NU a 13-6 advantage. After a Sasa Borovnjak basket, Walker and Ubel came right back and closed the run with a pair of hoops to stake Nebraska to a 17-8 advantage.
Penn State (9-9, 1-4 Big Ten) fought back and was within 19-15 after a Tim Frazier 3-pointer, but Nebraska responded with another 8-0 spurt, building a 27-15 lead after a McCray 3-pointer with 5:49 left in the first half. The Huskers shot 52 percent in the first half and enjoyed a 19-10 advantage on the glass to build a 34-22 halftime lead.
Frazier, who scored 19 of his career-high 30 points in the second half, kept Penn State within striking distance as PSU was within 37-27 after his layup with 18:22 left before Nebraska broke the game open with eight unanswered points, making it a 45-27 lead after consecutive 3-pointers from Talley and Walker.
Penn State, which shot just 33 percent from the field, pulled to within 11 points on several occasions, but Nebraska kept a comfortable double-digit lead down the stretch, getting to the foul line 22 times in the second half and holding PSU to just 3-of-24 from long distance.
Nebraska will continue Big Ten play Sunday afternoon, as the Huskers travel to Wisconsin. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. and the game will be carried on the Husker Sports Network and televised on BTN.
Notes: *-Nebraska's 70 points was its highest output in Big Ten play, as the Huskers' previous best was 55 against No. 16 Michigan State on Dec. 31
*-Nebraska's win tonight was its first-ever Big Ten Conference win and snapped the Huskers' four-game Big Ten losing streak
*-Nebraska shot 55 percent from the floor, its highest percentage since shooting 57 percent against Rhode Island on Nov. 20.
*-The Huskers have shot 50 percent or better in its last two games, the first time this season Nebraska has shot 50 percent or better in consecutive games.
*-Nebraska held Penn State to 33 percent shooting, the lowest by a Husker opponent since USC also shot 33 percent on Nov. 14
*-Bo Spencer got to the foul line a season-high 12 times against Penn State. His previous best was seven on two occasions, most recently against Central Michigan on Dec. 20. Spencer finished with 19 points - his highest point total on Big Ten play.
*-Nebraska got to the foul line a season-high 29 times (previous high was 26 against Central Michigan).
*-Caleb Walker had 12 points, his fourth double figure scoring effort of the season and highest total since scoring a career-high 17 points against Rhode Island on Nov. 20
*-Toney McCray finished with 13 points - his seventh straight game in double figures.
*-Dylan Talley reached double figures for the first time since Dec. 7 with 12 points and five rebounds in 27 minutes of work.
Nebraska Head Coach Doc Sadler Opening Statement "Most importantly, I think the game went like I would have expected it to. Penn State plays so hard. I thought we did a nice job the first half on the defensive boards, and then we were able to get some-not easy-but we were able to get some transition baskets. In the second half, they did a much better job than we did on the offensive glass and probably got 12 or 13 rebounds there. Probably, besides the couple of run-outs that we did get off of missed long rebounds, we weren't able to get in transition like we'd like to. We're having trouble scoring points, as most of you have seen, and we know transition is one way that you've got to, but we've not had the rebounding that we've needed to have and we haven't gotten to the free throw line. But we got to the free throw line tonight 29 times, and we didn't shoot the ball from there as we had been. Overall, it was a tough game. Penn State's tough; I mean, they play for 40 minutes, they don't give you anything and it was a good win. It was hard-earned, which every game's going to be for us in this league."
On if it's valuable for the players to get this first win out of the way "Really, I hadn't talked much about it, but I'm sure that for the players it is. As you well know, they're getting asked about it by students, parents, girlfriends, everybody. As a coach, you understand. Guys, it's an 18-game schedule. We haven't had the cleanest deck of cards, and I've loved this group though. For four games, these guys have competed and played hard. We didn't win. But at no time during those four games have I gotten down about it. But if somebody asks if it's a must win, sure it's a must win. I think every game in this league is a must win. In that aspect, it was good to get it, no doubt."
On Penn State guard Tim Frazier's 30 points "I thought we really did good in the first half, but, you know what, he's in every play offensively, so he's going to score 30 points a game. In league play, I think he's getting right at 20. But yes, I think we did a really nice job on him, because he could have 40 or 45 because he's in every play. I thought we did an excellent job, except once or twice. And then late, we lost (Billy) Oliver, which could have been costly. But I thought, for basically 37 minutes, we did a really nice job of not losing him."
Penn State Head Coach Patrick Chambers
On Penn State's three-point shooting not working like he wanted it to and if it's been a season long deal
"That's an understatement. It just seems like on the road, we can't make shots. That's a credit to Nebraska. They played great defense. They did a great job. Doc [Sadler] had a great game plan. They did some great things. The game becomes very difficult if you can't make shots, though."
On if he was surprised to see Nebraska shoot 55 percent against them
"When you're at home, nothing surprises me. The last two games for us we shot lights out, and we didn't really do that all year long. I knew going into this game that [Nebraska was] going to make some shots, definitely in the first half. We did a better job in the second half, and then obviously you have to foul so the numbers are probably a little skewed. [Jorge Brian]Diaz hit two layups that were huge. [Tony] McCray did some good things. If you look at their numbers, they were very efficient."
On if he expected his full court trap to be as effective as it was
"Just effort. We played harder. We did some better things, but you have to learn to play that hard from the tip. I thought we had two really good practices. We had a heck of a shoot around today. For whatever reason, put some people in the stands throw the lights on; sometimes with a youthful team you get what you think you're going to get."
Nebraska Guard Bo Spencer On if the team feels like they shed a little weight today "It feels like we got a big monkey off our back, and we finally got over that hump. We come in, come to practice tomorrow we're going to practice with the same preparation and intensity we had preparing for Penn State and get ready to go to Wisconsin on Sunday."
On whether or not they lacked confidence "It's kind of tough to lose four straight and stay as confident as you would like. We still had players that had confidence, but it was kind of tough being on a losing streak. I think if we had any gone, we got it back tonight."
On what the team is like now that they have gotten players back "Having them back is a big difference. (Jorge Brian) Diaz is a big force on the inside, and he helps out a lot with scoring and defense. Dylan (Talley) gives us some big scoring, and he's instant offense off the bench. It's just great to have everyone healthy. We're all happy to be out there and I think we were all truly on the same page tonight."
Source: University of Nebraska Athletic Dept.