Wisconsin pounds the Huskers.
Lincoln. — Toney McCray scored a team-high 16 points, but the Nebraska basketball team dropped its Big Ten opener against No. 11 Wisconsin, 64-40, Tuesday night at the Devaney Center.
McCray hit 6-of-15 shots from the floor, but was the only Husker in double figures, as Wisconsin snapped Nebraska's four-game win streak and held the Huskers to their lowest point total since the 2006-07 season.
Ryan Evans led Wisconsin (12-2, 1-0 Big Ten) with a career-high 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting, while All-American Jordan Taylor added 15 points and five assists, as Wisconsin shot 51 percent on the night, including 11-of-21 from 3-point range.
Nebraska got off to a great start, scoring the game's first seven points, while McCray scored eight early point to give NU a 10-5 lead. The Huskers were unable to sustain the early momentum, as Evans scored five straight points to tie the score, as the Badgers ran off 13 straight points to silence the crowd of 11,422. UW capped the 19-2 spurt with a Mike Bruesewitz layup to double up the Huskers at 24-12.
The Huskers chipped away at the lead, pulling to within 29-23 after a McCray dunk and was within 33-26 after a McCray layup and basket beat the first-half horn.
Nebraska pulled to within 33-28 after a pair of McCray free throws with 19:39 remaining, but the Badgers responded with a 9-0 run of their own, starting with a clutch Taylor 3-pointer to beat the shot clock. The Badgers eventually pushed the lead 42-28 lead after a Josh Gassner 3-pointer with 15:21 remaining.
The Huskers eventually pulled to within 42-33 after a Bo Spencer 3-pointer and Brandon Ubel basket, but could get no closer, as an Evans jumper and a Brust 3-pointer started a 10-0 run to put the game out of reach, as Nebraska (8-4, 0-1 Big Ten) shot 21 percent in the second half and 30.6 on the night.
Brandon Ubel also totaled eight points and nine rebounds in a losing effort.
Nebraska returns to action Saturday afternoon when it hosts No. 16 Michigan State at 2 p.m. The game will be carried on the Huskers Sports Network and televised on the Big Ten Network.
*-Nebraska saw its season-long four game win streak snapped in tonight's loss to the Badgers
*-The Huskers' 40 points is a season low and fewest since scoring 39 against Oklahoma State on March 8, 2007.
*-Nebraska's 14 second-half points is the lowest half total by a Husker team since scoring 11 points against Creighton (1st half) on Dec. 11, 2006
*-Toney McCray reached double figures for the third straight game with a team-high 16 points and set a season-high with nine rebounds. McCray has tied or set season best in rebounds in each of the last three games and is averaging 15.7 points and 8.0 rebounds per game over the last three games.
*-Brandon Ubel led Nebraska with nine rebounds, his best total since grabbing a career-high 11 rebounds vs. Florida Gulf Coast on Dec. 7
*-Wisconsin's 13-0 first half run was the largest by a Husker opponent this season.
Wisconsin Head Coach Bo Ryan Opening Statement "First off, what were we doing the first few minutes of the first and second half.. We need to work on our starts. Take away those first few mishaps and we played as well defensively as we have played all season. Offensively, we had guys looking for each other and sharing the ball. I always like to see that."
On Josh Gasser guarding Bo Spencer "He's a solid defensive player for us. He got help from other teammates defending Spencer. (Bo) Spencer is as good of an offensive player as we have faced all season."
On Ryan Evans' play "He got himself open and hit shots. It sends a message that you can't play off of him."
On Playing Nebraska "We approached it like a non-conference game. We have notes on other Big Ten teams, but after time we will get a feel for Nebraska."
Nebraska Head Coach Doc Sadler Opening Statement "I thought obviously, Wisconsin is a very good basketball team. They value everything that a good basketball team does. They don't do anything that is going to get them beat; you are going to have to get them beat. Right now, as I told the team in there, until we understand the offensive efficiency of running the offense and swinging the ball from side to side and getting it inside, you are going to struggle. That's a heck of a lesson to take. They've got a good basketball team and they do it the right way. They don't get in a hurry. Whether they are fast or slow, the fact of the matter is that they are efficient. I'm really concerned at how we are going to score right now with this basketball team. If we don't get to the free throw line, it is hard for us. We need to get there over 20 times, because we are going to struggle to score. Defensively, I didn't think it was that bad. I thought we got tired. We can't play (our starters) 36 minutes - you just can't do it. We've got to get some positive production out of some guys that are not yet ready to play. We'll see what happens on Saturday."
On the substitution pattern in the first 10 minutes "We wanted to pick up the floor. The first guy we decided to come with was Corey (Hilliard) just to get a little break. We were going to go with Corey, Brandon (Richardson) in for Bo (Spencer) to get Bo off the point for a bit. (Brandon) Ubel played about seven straight minutes there, almost eight and then I got him in after the first media timeout after eight. Brandon Ubel can't end up playing 35 minutes. I wanted to stay with him for four minutes or five minutes and then we had gotten into a little hole, but I knew we would need him for the last seven minutes of the half. I knew it would be hard for him, but that's just the way it is - we don't have the bodies for it."
On if this is the best he has been defended in his six years as coach "I think maybe. I think a lot of it had to do with our offensive efficiency. When we ran and got from side to side, I thought we got some good looks. I told the guys if we continue to take as many shots as we did with 15 seconds or more on the shot clock, we are going to get our brains beat out. No disrespect, but this league is not going to let you do that. We may have been able to get more possessions in the past, but you aren't getting possessions in this league. That's one thing I know. And you better have some efficiency. We are going to have to get that thing from side to side and get more shots under 10 seconds if you are going to win in this league."
On if he sees more quality shots with the shot clock under 10 seconds "Yeah, because teams aren't going to play defense as long. You have to get the ball from side to side just like they did. I bet if you look at the number of possessions they took in under 10 seconds, I bet it was a lot. Would you rather play defense for 30 seconds or for 15? That's what I told the team in there. Defenses are going to break down if you swing it from side to side."
Nebraska Forward Brandon Ubel On how much Wisconsin's defense disrupted NU "I think it kind of had to do with their offense as well. They went and executed their stuff. They executed the crap out of it. They were on offense for about 30 seconds, we were playing 'D' and they were jumping up and would hit a shot. We got down 10 or 12 and I think we started to push a little bit and started shooting some quick shots and kept falling more and more behind. Their defense was pretty solid, but I think we just started pressing a little bit when we got down."
On what they need to do different against Michigan State "We just need to execute our stuff a little better. Run our offense, swing the ball from side to side, get the defense moving and spread out. When we did that, we got some pretty good looks and hit some shots. Especially (against) Wisconsin, when they play defense they like to pack it in the lane. To get them more spread out, you have to swing it from side to side and keep it moving, get them chasing screens and wait for them to make a mistake."
Source: University of Nebraska Athletic Dept.