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Palmer’s Career-High Not Enough; Huskers Fall Short in Columbus

Anton Gill knocked down a 3 with 4:22 remaining to give Nebraska (14-8, 5-4) a one-point lead over No. 13 Ohio State (18-4, 9-0). And for a moment, it looked like the Huskers were about to get back-to-back conference wins against ranked opponents.

Unfortnetly for the Huskers, everything went south following Gill’s lone triple.

The Buckeyes were able to execute down the stretch, while Nebraska’s turnovers and missed opportunities overshadowed a brillaint defensive game and a career-night for James Palmer Jr.

“Nebraksa is very good. They are terrific defensively,” Holtmann said. “A lot of respect to Nebraska and their preperation. I thought they were outstanding. We just made a few more plays down the stretch.”

It was a show of two stars in the second half, featuringĀ Palmer scored 23 points in the second half to give him a career-high 34 points for the game off 11-of-18 shooting and 5-of-11 from deep.

However, Palmer wasn’t given much help. As the junior went for 34 points off 11-of-18 shooting and 5-of-11 from 3, his teammates finished with 25 points off 10-of-36 shooting, 3-of-18 from 3.

For Ohio State, the Big Ten’s leading scorer, Keita Bates-Diop, tallied 12 straight points for the Buckeyes in the second half to help cushion the OSU lead, ultimetly finishing with 20 points. Senior Jae’Sean Tate, despite heading to the locker room for a portion of the second half, finished with 17 points and seven rebounds.

 

Here are my takeaways following Nebraska’s close loss.

— With just over four minutes to go and the lead, it felt like Nebraska could get the win. But in the final four minutes, Ohio State looked calm and composed, while Nebraska looked to be in a rush and unorganized.

It looked like the four players around Palmer were sitting there watching the show, as opposed to Ohio State who had players moving off the ball and getting easy looks for several different players.

— After winning the coaching match against John Beilein last Thursday, I think Holtmann edged Miles in the last four minutes. While I thought the gameplan was very good, the Huskers didn’t look comfortable down the stretch, and that cost them.

With that being said, Tim Miles can’t put the ball in the hoop.

— In a tough game like tonight, Nebraska has looked to junior point guard Glynn Watson Jr. in the past. Tonight, it seemed like he didn’t exist. With Palmer playing as well as he did, it seemed to me that Watson really didn’t know his role anymore. He didn’t know what to do or how he could help the team. On top of that, he shot just 1-of-9 from the floor and 0-of-3 from beyond the arc.

— Nebraska also missed an opportunity early in the game after completely out-playing the Buckeyes for most of the first half. However, NU was never able to create a cushion and seperate themselves from Ohio State. That was huge, and keeping OSU in the game is very dangerous, especially at home. Starting the first half going 2-of-15 from 3 will make it very difficult to win a conferece game on the road.

— Really, Nebraska shot the ball really shot the ball poorly. The negative is obviously that you can’t shoot that poorly and expect to win against an OSU-caliber team on the road, but the positive is that the Husker defense was phenominal. And it means Nebraska has found its identity: A small-ball lineup that can switch screens and make it difficult for you to score, but can also use that speed and athleticism to get good shots on the offensive end.

With the loss, Nebraska’s NCAA Tournament hopes aren’t completely diminished, but the final nine games for NU become very important, starting with Wednesday’s contest at Rutgers.

Three out of NU’s next four games will be on the road.

The Huskers’ game against Rutgers will start at 6 p.m. and will be televised by BTN.

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