Evans’ 22 leads No. 11 Wisconsin over Huskers
LINCOLN — Ryan Evans scored a career-high 22 points and No. 11 Wisconsin defeated injury-plagued Nebraska 64-40 in the Cornhuskers’ inaugural Big Ten game Tuesday night.
The Huskers closed within five points early in the second half, but the Badgers went on a 27-5 run to put the game out of reach.
Jordan Taylor added 15 points as the Badgers (12-2, 1-0) won their ninth consecutive Big Ten opener.
Toney McCray led the Huskers (8-4, 0-1) with 16 points and nine rebounds.
The season-high crowd of 10,812 at the Devaney Sports Center began filing out with 5 minutes left and the Badgers leading by 23 points.
Wisconsin extended its streak of holding opponents to 65 points or less to 18 games. The nation’s top defensive team, the Badgers have held 12 of 14 opponents to that team’s lowest points total of the season.
Nebraska’s previous low was 51 against Florida Gulf Coast.
The Huskers had scored the game’s first seven points. But Evans’ swirling 3-pointer tied it 10-all, and then Jared Berggren and Jordan Taylor hit back-to-back 3s and Taylor a fall-away jumper to put the Badgers up 18-10.
It was all part of a 19-2 run in which Nebraska was held to one basket over an 8:44 span.
McCray’s steal and layup just before the buzzer pulled the Huskers within 33-26 at half, and it was a five-point game after he made a couple free throws early in the second half.
Then the Badgers broke it open again, holding Nebraska to two field goals over 11 minutes and Taylor, Evans and Josh Gasser combining for three 3s in a row for a 42-28 lead.
Nebraska needed, and got, more scoring production from McCray because of injuries that kept two of their top four scorers on the bench.
Center Jorge Brian Diaz sat out with sore feet and guard Dylan Talley missed the game with a thigh bruise. The Huskers also were without 6-11, 310-pound Andre Almeida, who has been limited because of nagging knee problems.
Guard Corey Hilliard returned to action for the first time in five weeks after a sports hernia, and guard Caleb Walker played even though he badly bruised his back last week.
In a pregame ceremony celebrating the first Big Ten game, former Nebraska players were introduced to the crowd and then formed a line between the locker room and arena, welcoming the current Huskers to the court with handshakes and high-fives before tipoff.
Nebraska also played Wisconsin in its Big Ten football opener, losing 48-17 in Madison.