Lincoln – Nebraska used a 16-0 second-half run and had five players in double figures, as the Huskers cruised to a 76-57 win over Jackson State on Wednesday night at the Devaney Center.
The Huskers, who have won three straight, improve to 5-2 overall as they head into Sunday’s non-conference battle against Creighton.
A pair of guards - Caleb Walker and Eshaunte Jones – led Nebraska with 13 points each, while Drake Beranek, Brandon Ubel and Brandon Richardson added 10 apiece, as Nebraska placed five in double figures for the first time since November of 2009.
Richardson’s 10 points all came at a critical time in the second half, as the hot start out of the locker room helped the Huskers build their biggest lead at 52-32 with just over 12 minutes remaining. The Los Angeles native did not score in the first half, but had eight of his 10 points in a two-minute span, as the Huskers turned a four-point lead into a 45-32 with 15 minutes left.
Richardson’s spark, which was capped by a steal and lay-up to give NU its 20-point lead, was much needed to escape a hot-shooting Jackson State team that connected on 12-of-22 three-pointers. The Tigers shot 43 percent (18-of-42) for the game, while Nebraska hit 60 percent (30-of-50) of its field goals, its second-best shooting percentage of the season.
The Huskers hit a season-high nine three-pointers on 19 attempts, including three from Jones off the bench. The Fort Wayne, Ind., native hit his third and final trey after JSU’s Tyrone Hanson connected from long range to cut NU’s lead to 56-43. Jones’ response ensured Nebraska control of the game throughout the second half, as the Huskers did not relinquish its double-digit lead. Beranek hit Nebraska’s last three-pointer with just over four minutes left to complete his season-high 10-point performance.
The Huskers were slower offensively in the first half, but ended the half on a 6-1 run to take a 28-21 lead into the locker room. Although the Huskers never trailed, NU struggled to separate itself from the Tigers, as JSU hit 5-of-13 three-pointers in the first 20 minutes to keep within striking distance. Jackson State accounted for all 21 first-half points via three-pointers and free-throws, but shot just 29 percent from the field in the opening half.
Walker led all NU scorers in the first half with nine points, including the game’s first points on a 3-pointer from the corner. While Walker scored the first five points, the Husker defense held Jackson State to just two points in the first four minutes and only one field goal in the first seven minutes as it shot 2-of-10 from the field.
Beranek and Jones each hit three-pointers in the first half and had five points apiece to hold NU’s slim lead. Jones’ scored his field goals on back-to-back possessions with five minutes remaining to give Nebraska a 20-15 lead. Jackson State closed the lead to 22-20 on a Hanson trey, one of three three-pointers in the first half, before Walker and Ubel sparked the late run to close the half.
Hanson finished with a game-high 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting from behind the arc, while Jenirro Buch added 14 points with four three-pointers on six attempts.
Nebraska continues its 10-game homestand this Sunday when the Huskers host in-state rival Creighton at 1 p.m. The game will be televised by Fox Sports Midwest. To purchase tickets, visit Huskers.com or call 1-800-8-BIG-RED.
*-Nebraska started Lance Jeter, Brandon Richardson, Caleb Walker, Brandon Ubel and Jorge Brian Diaz against Jackson State. It marked the second straight game NU had the same starting five.
*-Nebraska put five players in double figures for the first time since Nov. 21, 2009 against TCU.
*-Nebraska shot over 50 percent for the third straight game and fourth time this season. NU hit 60 percent on Wednesday, marking the second time this season and eighth time in Sadler’s five seasons at Nebraska.
*-Nebraska hit 73 percent from the floor in the second half, including 6-of-9 from 3-point range.
*-Nebraska used a 16-0 run over a span of 4:36 to turn a 36-32 lead into a 52-35 lead. The 16-0 spurt equaled NU’s largest of the season (vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Nov. 15)
*-Brandon Richardson set season highs in both points (10) and rebounds (four) in tonight’s win. Richardson reached double figures for the first time this year with 10 points, all coming in the second half. His previous high in point was six against Hofstra. Richardson was just 1-for-12 in 3-point attempts before hitting consecutive 3-pointers in the Huskers’ second-half run.
*-Nebraska held Jackson State without a two-point field goal the entire first half. All five of Jackson State’s baskets in the first half were 3-pointers.
*-Caleb Walker has now been in double figures in three game this season, as he matched his season high with 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting and had a season-high five assists. Walker also had 13 points against Arkansas Pine Bluff.
*- Eshaunte Jones finished with a team-high 13 points, coming off the bench. Jones hit 4-of-8 shots from the floor and topped his previous season best of six on two occasions.
*-Drake Beranek had a season-high 10 points. His previous NU best was seven against Hofstra on Nov. 21. NU’s bench out-scored Jackson State, 29-10
Nebraska Head Coach Doc Sadler
On Nebraska’s defense against Jackson State
“I knew they were going to be a good basketball team. They controlled the tempo much better than they have on tape. They really did a nice job of taking 15-20 seconds before they tried to score. The tried to run the clock and get into things. Again, that really causes us issues with our big guys. At halftime, I told them ‘I can’t be any prouder of your defense.’ You hold a team to 21 points and all five field goals are three-pointers - I don’t know if that’s ever happened in basketball. Our defense, I couldn’t be any happier with how we played defensively in the first half.”
On Nebraska’s offense
“We’re starting to make shots, but I’m not for sure that our offense is getting much better except for that area. Now, if I have the choice of not having a good offense and having shots I’ll take what happened tonight. Obviously, when we play really good teams you have to execute better than we’re executing. We’re not getting the high-low inside stuff that we need to get and we’re going to have to get that. We have to work on that the next few days.
On Caleb Walker
“He looks to be playing more confident. He went and rebounded in the first half and that got him going. Again, he hit a shot and he got some things on defense. The guy went 6-of-7 (shooting) and you’re not going to get much better than that. He didn’t have any turnovers. I’ll take that nine times out of 10.”
On Brandon Richardson
“I think Brandon’s situation is he has to score points for us. He took the shots that were there. He can really shoot the basketball. So tonight, he did shoot the shots that were open and you saw what he did.”
Junior Guard Caleb Walker
On if he felt different offensively tonight
“I think I’ve got to start getting more into a flow, being more confident and bringing something to the team. When you’re out there, you’ve got to be able to bring something to the team. I think at the start (of the year), I was not in the flow yet of getting used to playing with the guys, but now I’m starting to come along.”
On the play of Jackson State
“They were pretty good. They were a real good team. They’re really athletic and they can really shoot the ball. They can mix it up with driving and kicking, and they also had rebounders. They had an all-around good team; they played us tough.”
On what led to Nebraska’s increase of threes in the second half
“I think just confidence and more energy, pushing the basketball and getting in the flow. Everybody was feeding off of each other. I think it started with Brandon Richardson, just feeding off his energy with him getting the steals. That can just feed off of everybody.”
Junior Guard Brandon Richardson
On if his energy is a big part of what he brings to the team
“It’s not just me. Everybody contributes in our defensive efforts. I’m just one guy, but it’s a team effort. I just have to do my part by doing the small things. It may not show up in the stat book but it’s just things that are momentum plays - hustle on the floor, taking the charge, whatever to do to get the crowd going, and then that feeds the players. After that, it’s just time to make plays. Like I said, it’s not just me, it’s a collective effort and the credit goes to our teammates for working hard and trying to make stops.”
On what Caleb Walker has brought to the team
“He’s scoring the ball. I think his rebounding, being his size and he’s very athletic. His effort on the offensive and defensive end helps this team, and that’s what we need him to do each and every night.”