Photo by Pat Radigan
Story by Pat Radigan
Nebraska’s ‘big 3’ sparks offensive explosion
Tim Miles said that playing against Iowa comes with the risk of getting caught up in a “shootout” with the Hawkeyes.
Nebraska fell into that ‘trap’ on Saturday night, but still surged to a 98-84 win over Iowa behind the most points the Huskers have scored since joining the Big Ten.
James Palmer Jr. poured in 28 points, and combined with Isaac Copeland and Isaiah Roby to form a ‘big 3’ that accounted for 68 points, 21 rebounds, 9 assists and 4 blocks. In addition to stuffing the stat sheet, the trio played a key role in the Huskers 14-point halftime lead, before saving NU from disaster when Iowa cut the lead to two early in the second half.
“They play quick. If they see an open shot, it’s going up,” Miles said. “You can have a lot of quick possessions and I just didn’t know if we could keep up that way really… It felt like that was going to be difficult and I think that proved correct.”
Copeland did his damage primarily in the first half. The junior missed just one shot in the opening 20 minutes, and made both 3-point attempts as part of a 15-point, 7-rebound effort in the half. A free throw by Copeland opened the scoring for NU, before he and Palmer hit back-to-back 3-pointers to stop Iowa’s momentum early.
That trimmed the lead to 10-8, then Roby got on the board to tie the game with a layup. Another ‘3’ for Copeland put Nebraska ahead, and it stayed that way for the remaining 35:28 of the game.
The closest Iowa got was two in the second half, when a layup by Ahmad Wagner made it 56-54. Palmer responded with a 3-pointer, hit another on the following possession and then made two free throws for a personal 8-0 run in a span of 1:03.
“James can make so many plays. I think the first half he had four assists right away. He’s willing to share the ball,” Miles said. “He also knows when to take over. He’s been a very pleasant surprise for me in terms of how bought in he is to the game plan, how bought in he is to focus, concentration and all of those things that go along with it.”
Roby followed it up with a 3-pointer to stretch the run to 11 straight points for Nebraska. The lead stayed in double digits over the final 12:50 of play, and took any suspense out of the Huskers securing back-to-back Big Ten wins.
Jordy Tshimanga added 11 points off the bench to make it four Huskers in double figures, while Evan Taylor matched Tshimanga by hitting 4 of 5 from the floor. Taylor finished with 9 points, while Anton Gill and Thomas Allen each added a ‘3’ to keep pace with Iowa’s fast tempo.
After winning two games on the road in a span of three days last week, Nebraska now heads back to the road to take on Wisconsin on Monday night. With a win, NU can post its first three-game winning streak in Big Ten action.