The Cornhuskers (5-2) used a 21-5 run spanning halftime to take command and their biggest lead was 60-38 with 12:29 to play. Nebraska used some stifling defense and control of the boards to take control, holding the Volunteers to 2-for-16 shooting during the big run.
Tennessee (4-3) was able to get to 70-60 with 7:19 to go but couldn't cut the lead to single digits until the final minute.
Shavon Shields and Jake Hammond both had 11 points for Nebraska, whose only losses this season have been to ranked teams: then-No. 11 Villanova and No. 24 Cincinnati in the opening round of this tournament.
Hammond had 10 rebounds to lead Nebraska, which dominated the rebounding 46-30. Tennessee was outrebounded 47-30 in its opening-round loss to George Washington,
There were five ties and five lead changes in the opening 14:30 before Nebraska's defense turned the Volunteers' shooting cold and the Cornhuskers took a 40-32 halftime lead. Nebraska opened the second half with a 7-0 run.
Tennessee: Hubbs has scored in double figures in every game this season. ... The Volunteers had six turnovers against George Washington, none in the final 20 minutes. They had seven at halftime against Nebraska and finished with 11. ... Punter has scored (97) points in the last four games.
Nebraska: The win gives coach Tim Miles a 52-51 record in his four seasons with the Cornhuskers. ... This was the Cornhuskers' seventh game in 15 days. ... Nebraska leads the all-time series 3-0 and the last win before Saturday was in December 2004.
Tennessee is at Butler on Dec. 12.
Nebraska hosts Miami on Tuesday.