The Nebraska men’s basketball team (6-2) used a well-balanced attack in one of its best offensive performances of the year to defeat Boston College (5-3) in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
The Huskers were led by the junior duo of James Palmer Jr. and Isaac Copeland Jr. who tallied 15 points apiece. Senior captain Evan Taylor finished with a season-high 13 points (11 in the first half) off 3-3 shooting from beyond the arc, and Glynn Watson Jr. finished with 10 points and six assists.
Here are my takeaways from one of Nebraska’s best performances of the year.
— Going into tonight’s game I was concerned. Nebraska made St. John’s look like Duke; they struggled against UCF, NU is last in the B1G in defensive rebounding and rebounding margin (and facing a good rebounding team), AND they were without a do-it-all guy in Isaiah Roby…. again, I wasn’t too optimistic. With that being said, the Huskers used one of its best offensive halves and an overall solid performance to get a big win in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
— Other than maybe North Dakota, Nebraska began the game with its best first-half offensive performance of the year, showcased by Evan Taylor knocking down three 3s in the opening 20 minutes. However, it wasn’t just Taylor. What made this offensive performance so productive is that several guys got involved in the offense. Here is the shot count for NU tonight:
Palmer: 13 shots
Watson: 10 sots
Taylor: 10 shots
Copeland: 9 shots
That’s well-balanced. Those are your four top scorers getting around the same amount of shots for the first time this season (that was a problem against UCF). The only other guy Miles might like to see get more looks would be Anton Gill, but as a spot-up shooter, Gill nailed 2-3 from beyond the arc and played his role pretty well.
Overall. the ball was moving and the Huskers had several guys get involved, leading to one of the best performances of the year for the Big Red.
*Assist Count Alert: NU finished with 16 assists to move to 21-2 under Tim Miles when tallying over 15 times a game.
— For the first time this season, Glynn Watson Jr. was a great floor general. As the offensive catalyst, Watson was able to move the basketball quickly and set up driving opportunities that led to easy buckets. Those drive opportunities then led to a lot of over-helping by the Boston College defense, leaving open shooters for the Huskers’ offense. In addition, Watson did a very good job of pushing the ball in transition, showcased by a great pass ahead to Palmer for an and-1 – which gave NU a 10-point lead and momentum to seal the win. Watson was solid tonight as a facilitator and had a season-high six assists to show for it. On top of all of that, Watson finished with zero turnovers.
*After the game, Miles said Watson was playing sick and “light-headed.”
— Any time Nebraska needed a bucket, James Palmer Jr. came up big. Palmer was very effective inside the arc, going 7-11 and capitalizing in big-time moments. The addition of JPJ to this year’s team has been huge thus far. Oh, and to add on to his solid offensive night, Palmer was everywhere defensively, racking up a team-high five steals.
— Evan Taylor with a jumpshot is a nightmare. He can defend at an All-Big Ten level, he can drive and finish at the rim, and when he can knock down 3s consistently, look out. While Taylor came into the season making just six 3s a year ago, Taylor has already made eight this season. It’s clear that the captain has worked on his jumpshot in the offseason, which is a really good sign for Nebrasketball fans, especially considering the famous Husker scoring droughts.
— I thought the absence of sophomore Isaiah Roby would be a big one for Nebraska. Instead, against a very good rebounding team, the Huskers rallied and played very well without its most efficient player, in terms of Player Efficiency Ratings (per, Sports-Reference). Roby has been a do-it-all kind of player for NU this season, so without him in the lineup, the rest of the squad had to step up and they did. That is a very good sign.
Nebraska (6-2) will travel to East Lansing to begin a brutal early December slate when it takes on No. 2 Michigan St. Sunday at 3:30 p.m.
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