The 2018-19 regular season officially ended Sunday, and it ended in spectacular fashion. Yes, the Huskers still have the Big Ten Tournament in Chicago next week, but Sunday’s home tilt against Iowa represented a feel-great moment in a season of disappointment.
A 93-91 overtime win over the Hawkeyes (21-10, 10-10 Big Ten) means the Huskers will finish with a winning record on the season, at 16-15 (6-14 in Big Ten play though).
Here are three takes from Senior Day.
No Quit Sunday
Iowa tried really hard to give this game away.
Careless turnovers and defensive lapses kept the Huskers—and, more importantly, the crowd—in the game. Late shots off poor perimeter defense prolonged things.
Maybe Iowa overlooked the Huskers, or maybe the Hawkeyes just weren’t ready for the JOHNNY TRUEBLOOD GAME (the seldom-used senior guard from Omaha played 26 minutes of scoreless basketball and finished a plus-18).
Regardless, Nebraska wouldn’t die, and that says a ton about the character of the players in that locker room.
Roby went for 23 points and eight boards on 9-for-12 shooting. He was a force like he hadn’t been often enough this season. Tanner Borchardt had eight points and eight boards and played stout defense inside on Iowa’s bigs. Both fouled out and it ultimately ended up not costing the Huskers.
Nebraska closed an overtime game with Thorir Thorbjarnarson as its biggest player on the court while Iowa played huge with 6-foot-9 Ryan Kriener and 6-foot-11 Luka Garza sharing time. And Nebraska tied Iowa on the boards.
Palmer completely undid his first 30 minutes of poor play with a final nine minutes of brilliant shot-making. He made his last five shots after only making five of his first 19 and completely took over, with the game-tying bucket in regulation.
Freshman guard Amir Harris played his best game to date, with eight points and 10 boards, including the game-winning layup in overtime.
Thorbjarnarson guarded bigs and then closed out the win with a block on Bohannon’s triple at the buzzer that would have won it.
Iowa has a better collection of talent. Iowa is the more complete group with better depth and health. And yet Nebraska won because it was the better team. Husker players stepped up when it mattered most.
Save the Miles Talk
I don’t know what this says about the Huskers’ chances when they go to Chicago next week to play in the Big Ten Tournament (they’ll play on Wednesday when the tournament opens), but I feel much better about their chances after these last two games.
We’ll save the Miles talk for later, because the season isn’t over yet.
Nebraska showed grit against Michigan State and something even better against Iowa. Miles has his faults and those were on display a lot during Sunday’s performance, but something happened during this one that led to him walking off the court in what many thought was his last game to cheers from the crowd. He got into the tunnel and started pumping his fist.
The coach cares about his team and cares about this program. It might not mean anything in the long run, and he might not be Nebraska’s coach next season, but after a slide that felt miserable, the product these last two games is something Nebraska’s coaches and players can feel proud of. Miles deserves credit for that.
Shoutout to Roby
Senior forward Isaac Copeland Jr. has been through a lot in his college career. The former 5-star Georgetown commit made his way to Lincoln after a back injury forced him to sit out a year after major surgery. This season, finally fully healthy, Copeland was on pace for a career year before tearing his ACL on a routine move on a dead ball.
So, on Senior Day, Nebraska got permission to let Roby wear Copeland’s jersey during the game.
Well done, to all parties involved. Miles got all five of his seniors on the court for the game because of it.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.