Alonzo Verge Jr. netted 20 of his 22 points in the second half, as Nebraska put together one of its best performances of the season in a 78-65 win over Minnesota Wednesday evening.
Verge keyed NU’s decisive second-half run, with five points and a pair of assists as the Huskers (7-17, 1-12 Big Ten) broke open a 40-32 lead with 12 unanswered points to take a 52-32 lead after basket from Derrick Walker with 11:43 remaining. Following that run, the Huskers, who shot 58 percent after halftime, kept Minnesota at bay the rest of the way.
In addition to Verge’s fifth 20-point game of the season, Bryce McGowens had 16 points, while Walker added 11 points and seven rebounds. All nine Huskers who played scored in the first half, as Nebraska never trailed.
Nebraska won the game on the defensive end, holding Minnesota to 39 percent shooting and forcing 18 turnovers against a Gopher team which entered the contest averaging fewer than 10 turnover per game. NU converted those miscues into 25 points.
Nebraska made its mark early, jumping out to a 9-2 lead, including a pair of alley-oops between Trey and Bryce McGowens. Minnesota got to within 9-6, but Nebraska used an 11-2 spurt to extend its lead to 20-8 and kept that margin the rest of the first half in taking a 32-21 lead.
NU limited Jamison Battle and Payton Willis to a combined 1-of-6 in the first half. Battle, who scored all 21 of his points in the second half, connected on a trio of 3-pointers in a 10-4 spurt that made it 38-31 with 15:05 left. Battle finished with 21 points, including five 3-pointers, and a game-high 10 rebounds.
Lat Mayen’s putback on the next possession stretched the lead to nine and started a streak of six straight made baskets for NU, culminating with a 12-0 spurt to build a 20-point cushion.
Willis finished with 13 points on just 3-of-8 shooting, while Sean Sutherlin had 11 points off the bench for the Gophers (11-10, 2-10 Big Ten).
Up next, the Huskers will hit the road to face Iowa on Sunday at 12 p.m.