Montana State 45

(5-8, 0-5 away)

Nebraska 78

(6-4, 5-2 home)

    2:05 PM ET, January 2, 2005

    Bob Devaney Sports Center, Lincoln, Nebraska

    1 2 T
    MTST 25 2045
    NEB 36 4278

    Top Performers

    Montana St: B. Miller 10 Pts, 7 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl

    Nebraska: J. McCray 19 Pts, 4 Reb, 3 Ast

    Nebraska 78, Montana State 45

    LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- Nebraska coach Barry Collier watched his team roll over Montana State 78-45 Sunday afternoon, then pronounced them ready for Big 12 conference play. That is, if they play hard for all 40 minutes of the game.

    Nebraska stood at 6-4 in non-conference play following Sunday's win. Collier said his team is improving, particularly on defense.

    Montana State struggled to score against Nebraska's stifling defense. The Huskers held the Bobcats to just 30 percent shooting while forcing 20 turnovers and blocking six shots.

    "Overall tonight, we played well defensively," Collier said. "One thing we wanted to improve this year was defense. Now, to a great extent, the real test begins.

    "We've played some opponents who have given us fits," Collier said. "We played a good schedule that's prepared us for the Big 12. If you're not fired up about playing here, the butter has slipped off your biscuit."

    Nebraska faces Kansas State in Lincoln on Saturday in its conference opener.

    "The biggest challenge we have is to prepare mentally for the game regardless of the opponent," he said.

    Collier said he is hoping the Huskers don't repeat Sunday's start against the Bobcats.

    Nebraska used a 17-5 run to take a 27-12 lead on Joe McCray's layup with 7:59 remaining in the first half. But Montana State (5-8) countered with nine straight, cutting the Husker lead to 27-21 on Ryan Holmes' basket with 5:10 left.

    "In the first half, we didn't play 100 percent all the time," said Wes Wilkinson, who came off the bench to tie his career high with 13 points and eight rebounds. "We had minutes where we played hard. That's when we built our lead. Then we let them back in the game. We have to play hard the whole game."

    Nebraska closed the half on a 6-2 run, then opened the second period with a 13-2 spurt. The Bobcats outscored the Huskers 7-2 in the next three minutes, but Nebraska put the game away with a 16-0 run capped by a McCray 3-pointer that made the score 67-34 with 7:06 left.

    That second half performance and last week's one-point win at Tennessee had freshman McCray encouraged as he prepares for his first conference game.

    "People are stepping forward and making the extra pass and playing as a team," he said. "I think we're going to come out and surprise some people."

    McCray scored 19, leading four Huskers in double figures. Joining McCray were John Turek with 15, Wes Wilkinson with 13 and Marcus Neal Jr. with 11.

    As a senior, Turek knows what it will take to be competitive in the Big 12.

    "If we get guys to consistently play well for us, we're going to be a tough team to beat," Turek said. "I think things do step up at this level. We're going to have to step up our intensity in practice and in the games."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 45 78
    FG Made-Attempted 18-60 (.300) 28-62 (.452)
    3P Made-Attempted 5-23 (.217) 7-18 (.389)
    FT Made-Attempted 4-10 (.400) 15-20 (.750)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 17 (0/0) 16 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 0 35

    2004-05 Season

    » Jan 2, 2005 @NEB 78, MTST 45Recap