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Watson, Palmer Shine as Nebraska Tops Northwestern on the Road

The Nebraska men’s basketball team (11-5, 2-1) resumed conference play with a win on the road against Northwestern (10-6, 1-2), giving the Huskers a 2-1 record in the Big Ten.

Despite a slow start, the Huskers were led by junior point guard Glynn Watson Jr., who scored a game-high 19 points, grabbed six rebounds, and tallied six assists. Junior James Palmer Jr. finished with 18 points (15 in the second half), and Isaac Copeland Jr. finished with 13 points and eight rebounds.

For Northwestern, Derek Pardon finished with 17 points and 15 rebounds, which were both team-highs. Northwestern shot just 29 percent from the field and 28 percent from 3.

Here are my takeaways from Nebraska’s win.

Nebraska Got A Little Lucky, But Nonetheless, A Really Nice Win

Welp, we saw how much of a difference Bryant McIntosh makes for Northwestern. I watched the Wildcats play Creighton earlier in the season, and NW was a much better team, a team that could score with an offense like Creighton. Tonight, NW was a completely different team.

With that being said, this is still a very good win, a win over a team that had three key players from a tournament team a year ago. For me, it was impressive that Nebraska was able to overcome the early struggles offensively and continue to hang on with their defense. Of course, the Wildcats shot it poorly, but the defense was there. And in the second half, the Huskers used that defense to get easy looks in transition.

Now at 11-5, the Huskers could certainly win three or four games in the rest of January and in February. That gives NU around 18 wins and a spot on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament. Again, this is optimistic but possible.

Nebraska Is Not a Good Offensive Team On The Road

Does Nebraska win tonight if McIntosh plays? I would say no. Offensively, especially in the first half, that effort will put you in a whole that is too hard to overcome on a consistent basis on the road. It won’t happen all of the time, but I just think Nebraska’s offensive struggles on the road will hold them back. With that being said, we all saw Palmer and Copeland shine in the second half, putting up second-half performances that some of Miles’ past teams weren’t capable or deep enough to do. This team is deeper and more talented, and that is why, if this team can start clicking, can be dangerous heading into conference play.

James Palmer Jr. Looked Incredible In The Second Half… And Copeland, Too

After a rough start, Palmer exploded in the second half for 15 points, finishing with 18 off 7-of-11 shooting. After it seemed like Nebraska couldn’t get any easy looks, the Miami transfer was able to get to the rim at will and completely dominate the second half. He was fantastic.

As Isaac Copeland Jr. struggled in the first half, too, the Georgetown transfer exploded in the second half and finished the game with 13 points off 5-of-9 shooting and eight rebounds.

In the past few years, Nebraska wouldn’t get these kinds of contributions from its second and third leading scorers (for tonight’s game). This is a different team and Palmer and Copeland are big reasons why.

Tanner Borchardt is Making a Big Difference

With Nebraska down early in the second half, and Jordy Tshimanga really struggling, Borchardt sparked the Huskers once again and scored two buckets to help ignite the Huskers. In addition, his energy really helped give Pardon troubles on the other end. The former walk-on was very good tonight.

Should Roby Start? 

After tonight, we saw that Roby guarded Pardon better than Tshimanga did, and that is supposed to be the one area that Tshimanga brings to the table; his size and strength. But if he doesn’t bring that and Roby does as a smaller, more versatile option, I think Roby has to start. In a game that was more suited for Tshimanga, Roby played better.

Tshimanga: 0-3 FG, 5 reb, 2 points, 3 turnovers, 1 block
Roby: 2-5 FG (1-1 from 3), 5 pts, 0 turnovers, 2 blocks

And aside from the stats, Roby just looked better. He looked like a threat. Tshimanga looked nervous and rattled and never really looked like an option to score. And when you can’t guard Pardon and can’t score… it’s tough to have you on the floor. It’s been a rough start for the young center, but maybe coming off the bench will help.

This has been something Miles has talked about in previous press conferences. It will be interesting to see if the lineup changes.

After the win, it doesn’t get any easier for the Huskers as Nebraska will travel to take on No. 13 Purdue (13-2, 2-0) Saturday at 1:15 p.m. The game will be televised on BTN.

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