Photo by Pat Radigan
Story by Becca Mann
Nebraska holds Delaware State to 37.9 shooting in first half to pull away early
The Nebraska men’s basketball team found smooth waters Friday night to take the helm early in an 85-68 victory against Delaware State on Friday night.
The win moves the Huskers to 9-5 on the season (1-1 Big Ten), with Nebraska able to find its footing early, using a 14-point run to take a 20-6 lead and set the tone for the night.. The Hornets entered into the contest on a seven-game losing streak dating back to November 27, and dropped to 2-12 this season on their second visit to Lincoln in two years.
While the Hornets were able to make short bursts during the night, they never led and shot 45.2 percent from the field, and just 40 percent from beyond the arc.
Both NU and DSU had four players each reach double figure scoring. Nebraska was led by James Palmer Jr’s 18 points, saw Anton Gill and Thomas Allen add 14 each off the bench, and Isaac Copeland added 11. Delaware State saw Kavon Waller (16), Artem Tacakalyan (13), Simon Okolue (13) and Pinky Walker (12) lead the way for the Hornets, but it was Nebraska’s bench that really did the talking.
All four of the Hornets in double figures came from the starting lineup, as DSU managed just 13 points off of the bench. Gill and Allen combined for six 3-pointers and 11 of 21 shooting to lead a big night for Nebraska’s bench. The Huskers also got 5 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks from Isaiah Roby.
Husker Coach Tim Miles used Friday as an opportunity to work the depth on his bench. Fifteen players on the NU roster earned at least two minutes of playing time and 11 of those players recorded at least one point.
“We’ll be locked in and find enough guys to do it,” he said about entering Big Ten play after the New Year. “Tonight we did, just enough guys were locked in. We have more depth.”
Nebraska’s bench combined for 43 points on the night compared to the 13 for Delaware State. Earlier this season, Miles often emptied his bench in the final minutes of the game, but recently the opportunities have not been as plentiful. Against Minnesota, four bench players accounted for 18 points. At Creighton, Miles utilized five players for 16 points, and in last Saturday’s heartbreaker against Kansas, five bench players took the floor for 27 points.
More depth on the bench can ease pressures on starters; something Miles said is key to success.
“Talent is everything when it comes to winning big and the idea that guys can afford to have off nights is huge,” he said. “Sometimes you don’t have enough talent and have an off night, you get beat. That could have happened to us to us two or three times this year but we’ve had enough depth for teammates to pick their buddies up. I think that might be why we’re a more cohesive team too.”
Gill and Allen added to that depth on Friday with a combined 28 points, four rebounds and 10 assists. The 14 points by Allen marked a career-high for the freshman and his second double-figure mark in three games. Allen played a team-high 26 minutes in the win, with Roby able to fill the stat sheet in his 25 minutes of play, second most on the team.
Junior Glynn Watson Jr. finished the night with two points, two rebounds and three assists. Watson’s off night even featured a moment where he got tangled under the basket, lost his shoe and then limped to the bench and then to the locker room. Watson, who sits second on the team with 13.6 points per game on a .415 field goal percentage, returned to the court with four minutes to play in the first and finished the game without being bothered by the injury.
The cohesiveness of his team was evident especially in the first half with nearly all of NU’s field goals coming off an assist. The Huskers recorded a season-high 24 on the night, breaking the previous 23 recorded against Marist on November 24. The record-setting night didn’t end there, with Nebraska’s 13 three pointers proving to be the most this season, and most in Miles’ six seasons at Nebraska. The Huskers shot 48.1 percent from beyond the arc while holding DSU to 40 percent at the same spot.
Rounding out a successful night for Nebraska before a week-long break for the holiday, was Miles’ post-game announcement of forward Tanner Borchardt as NU’s newest scholarship player. The junior from Gothenburg said he made it a goal to earn the scholarship position for second semester.
“It’s well deserved,” Miles said. “Tanner has helped us in games. He’s changed his body. [He] put himself in a situation where I feel confident when we do need him. Now, we’ve been playing him smaller rather than bigger, but Big Ten is a different beast too, so we are proud of him.”
Borchardt earned a spot his freshman year in October open tryouts and appeared in eight games for six points and nine rebounds. He rejoined the team in February 2017 as a practice player, marking this his first full season on the NU roster.
The Huskers are working their way through a four game non-conference home stand that has seen a 67-64 loss to Kansas and more recently, wins against UTSA and Delaware State. NU will wrap up next Friday with a game at home against Stetson at 7 p.m. before hitting the road for Big Ten play against Northwestern and Purdue early in January.