Photo by Pat Radigan
Story by Becca Mann
Huskers break 100 for the first time in 12 years
Four days after falling by just one to No. 13 Kansas in a jam-packed arena, the Nebraska men’s basketball team continued a four-game non-conference home stand with a slow moving, yet monumental, 104-94 win against UTSA.
James Palmer Jr. and Anton Gill scored 21 points apiece, and Nebraska got comfortable at the free throw line to key an offensive explosion in the 10-point win over UTSA. Wednesday was the first time in the Tim Miles era that the Huskers found their way to triple digits. The last time NU broke 100 was in 2005 in a 107-57 win against North Carolina A&T. Before that was a 114-106 overtime win against Oregon during the 1995-96 season.
The win improved Nebraska to 8-5 on the season (1-1 Big Ten) while UTSA drops to 7-6, and snapped its two-game win streak.
Efforts on both sides of the court were slow early on, as it took Nebraska nearly four minutes to make an offensive run. UTSA nabbed an early 2-0 lead, off a Keaton Wallace jumper, and that lead stood until the 16:29 mark with a Glynn Watson Jr. layup to give the Huskers a 3-2 lead.
“Tonight was one of the nights where we felt like we were running in mud early with not a lot of spark,” Miles said. “It felt like we were in a fog.”
Once UTSA got in rhythm, it didn’t take long for the offense to strike. The Roadrunners dropped their lead in the game with just under 10 minutes left in the game off an Isaiah Roby dunk but managed to tie the score five more times over the course of the night.
“I think there were some guys who weren’t at their best tonight,” he said. “We kept telling our players that this team has a same similar offense as Michigan State’s and Creighton’s and Kansas’, the just don’t look like it.’”
The Husker offense struggled to keep guard Jhivvan Jackson under control. Jackson led all players with 26 points during his 27 minutes of play, and the freshman hit 9 of 20 from the field and 5-for-10 from beyond the arc, while also tacking on three rebounds and three assists.
Entering into Wednesday’s match-up, the Roadrunners ranked No. 20 rationally in scoring, averaging 86.6 points per game with at least six players averaging at least eight points per game. While the team kept up its scoring average, only five players nabbed more than six points and four ended their night with six or fewer.
Across the court, Nebraska hit just 33.3 percent from 3-point range in the first half, but found a way to improve to just over 58 percent in the second. Roby finished the game in double digits, hit both his attempts from the field and finished 6-8 at the line. The sophomore forward added points off the bench, and also grabbed six rebounds in his 22 minutes of play. Nebraska’s bench accounted for a season-high 40 points led by Roby and Gill.
Miles said Gill had a migraine to start off practice before the game, yet was still able to drop a career-high 21 points and convert all five trips to the free-throw line. Palmer’s 25 points was also good enough for a new career high, and it put Palmer in double figures for the 12th time in 13 games. Senior guard Evan Taylor also earned a Nebraska career-best with 16 points on the night, while also contributing four rebounds and four assists.
The Huskers shot 50.9 percent from the field, including 74 percent from the line and grabbed 44 total rebounds along the way.
In addition to an offensive spark by Gill, Nebraska’s saving grace came at the line with 50 attempts, just five fewer than NU had FG attempts. Against Kansas and Creighton, Nebraska had just 11 combined attempts at the line to, finishing 6-8 against the Jayhawks and 2-3 against CU.
“We added a couple little things to try and get to the foul line more. We ran them and did get fouled so that’s a good start,” Miles said. “When we can get down hill a little bit I think it opens everything else up too.”
Miles said Wednesday’s match up was one they easily could have dropped had they not been mentally tuned in, and Taylor agreed.
“[We are] happy after any win,” he said. “We’ve lost this game three years in a row and today we won. It was tough, we knew the game was going to be hard. We can’t underestimate any opponent, but shout out to our guys and our coaches. We were able to weather the storm and win a tough one.”
The Huskers will continue their non-conference home stand with a game against Delaware State, which is set to tip on Friday night at 7 p.m.