LINCOLN, Neb. (AP)—Caleb Walker scored a career-high 16 points to lead Nebraska to a 65-48 win over South Dakota on Friday night. But it was rebounding that got Walker going.
“Caleb shot the ball well,” said Nebraska coach Doc Sadler. “But he got open shots. He’s supposed to make those. What got Caleb off to a good start was he got a couple offensive rebounds.”
Walker, who scored Nebraska’s first seven points, four of them on putbacks, agreed.
“It definitely did,” Walker said of rebounds getting him started. “I just thought I wanted to help my team out, going as hard as I could to the boards.”
The Cornhuskers (1-0) took control with an 11-2 run that ended on a Dylan Talley 3-pointer that made the score 31-18 with 2:55 remaining before halftime.
Louie Krogman had 16 points to lead South Dakota (0-1), which opened the second half with a 3-pointer by Charlie Westbrook that cut the Nebraska lead to nine. But the Coyotes got no closer.
Nebraska struggled to score in the half court against South Dakota’s zone defense. But it got several easy baskets in transition, which Sadler hopes will be a regular occurrence this season.
“I think we’ve got some talented guys on the wing that can score some baskets or just go get a shot,” he said. “I don’t know we’ve had that (before).”
The Cornhuskers held South Dakota to 31-percent shooting from the floor and had a 45-29 rebounding edge.
“I thought (the defense) was pretty good,” Sadler said. “They’re hard for us to guard because they spread out everything so well. Last year, we gave up 68 points (to South Dakota). This year, we held them to 48. That was pretty good.”
What wasn’t good, Sadler said, was Nebraska’s 12 for 19 free-throw shooting and 18 turnovers. Also, South Dakota managed 10 offensive rebounds.
Nebraska has won 11 consecutive season-opening games and 25 straight non-conference contests. Friday’s game was the Cornhuskers’ first as a member of the Big Ten.
Jorge Brian Diaz had 11 points for Nebraska, and Brandon Richardson and Talley added 10 points each.
Westbrook had 10 points for the Coyotes.