Aleks Maric had 21 points and 16 rebounds to lead a dominating inside effort for Nebraska in a 59-45 victory over Alabama A&M in front of 6,129 fans at the Bob Devaney Sports Center Saturday afternoon.
Behind Maric's performance, the Huskers (2-0) outscored the Bulldogs 32-12 in the paint, while Alabama A&M (1-3) struggled against Nebraska's interior defense. The Bulldogs missed 20 consecutive 2-point field goals at one point while failing to make a basket inside the 3-point line for a staggering 25:29 that covered the final 16:19 of the first half and the first 9:08 of the second period.
With the Bulldogs struggling to score inside, A&M relied on a decisive advantage from behind the arc, hitting 9-of-27 3-pointers, compared to 3-of-12 by the Huskers.
Ryan Anderson joined Maric in double figures with an efficient 10-point effort on 4-of-7 shooting. Evan Hilton pacing A&M with 16 points and nine rebounds.
After a slow start to open the game, a 10-0 Nebraska run turned a 7-3 deficit into a 13-7 advantage. Anderson led the way with eight straight points during the spurt, including a pair of 3-pointers as NU connected on four consecutive shots. All eight of Anderson's first-half points came in a stretch of 1:06.
The Huskers then used a 9-0 run to lead 22-10 midway through the half. With Nebraska scoring inside and out, the Bulldogs had to rely on their perimeter shooting to keep the contest relatively close. Alabama A&M hit just three field goals over the final 16 minutes of the first half and each was a 3-pointer.
In the opening 20 minutes, Alabama A&M hit just six shots while shooting only 20.7 percent. While the Bulldogs hit 4-of-13 from beyond the arc, A&M connected on only 2-of-16 shots from inside the arc and hit their final 2-point basket of the first half with 16:20 remaining in the period.
Alabama A&M opened the second half with a 3-pointer before a quick 5-0 Husker spurt forced a Bulldog timeout with NU leading 39-23 at the 17:31 mark. During the spurt, Maric recorded three points and a pair of rebounds to notch his first double-double of the season.
Nebraska extended the run to 7-0 before another Bulldog 3-pointer made the score 41-26. The Huskers continued to pull away, stretching the lead to 47-26 as Steve Harley capped a 6-0 run with a short jumper. Overall, the Huskers stretched their 14-point halftime advantage to 21 in the first seven minutes of the second half.
Two quick Alabama A&M 3-pointers pulled the Bulldogs to with 49-32 at the 11:29 mark. A&M capped an 8-0 run when Reggie Porter had his fastbreak layup count after NU was called for goaltending, marking the Bulldogs' first 2-point basket since the 16:20 mark of the first half.
NU responded to A&M's run and quickly pushed the lead back to 19 on a thunderous Maric follow-up dunk. The Huskers led by at least 15 until back-to-back Bulldog buckets cut the lead to 55-45 with 3:02 remaining in the game.
Needing a basket, NU went back inside to Maric, who converted with a short jumper that ended the Huskers' 5:48 scoreless drought. Alabama A&M would not score again, while Maric added a pair of free throws to eclipse the 20-point plateau and give Nebraska its final 14-point margin of victory.
Nebraska returns to action on Tuesday, Nov. 20, when the Huskers play host to Norfolk State at the Bob Devaney Sports Center in a 7 p.m. tip-off. The game will be heard live on the Husker Sports Network and on Huskers.com.