Well, well, well. What do we have here but an NIT win for Nebraska.
After a strong showing in the Big Ten Tournament late last week, the Huskers were awarded a 4-seed and home-court advantage against 5-seed Butler. Nebraska took advantage of it, defeating the Bulldogs 80-76.
It was rough going at times, especially when you consider Nebraska only had eight players available and played six of them. (We’ll get to that in a minute.) However, the Huskers found a way to keep the magic alive in front of 10,103 fans at Pinnacle Bank Arena over Nebraska’s spring break.
Here are three takes from the game.
Well Then, Isaiah Roby
When Isaiah Roby is on fire, he’s on fire. That’s the clean way of saying that. Twitter was much more colorful in describing what Roby was up to against Butler on Wednesday night.
When Nebraska went into halftime ahead 31-30, Roby had 17 of those 31 points. He also did this:
He wasn’t the only bright spot against Butler either. James Palmer Jr. came to life in the second half, knocking down 23 points by the end of the game. Glynn Watson Jr. had 17. While Roby slowed down in the second half (he still ended with 28 points), he had done enough in the first half to help carry the team when needed.
Hail Varsity’s Jacob Padilla talked about Roby with Chris Schmidt on Wednesday’s Hail Varsity Radio show, specifically noting that Butler has no one to guard the junior. Well, he was right.
So, good on Roby. He needed a game like this (head coach Tim Miles said so on Tuesday) and Nebraska needed him to have a game like this. And good on Palmer and Watson too.
Small, But Mighty
At halftime, Nebraska had played six players. Butler had played 10.
Nebraska only had eight players available Wednesday night, and one — Brady Heiman — had been doubtful for the game until he showed up in uniform pre-game.
The Huskers were in the same boat in the Big Ten Tournament, playing with far less available players than their opponents. It's an easy excuse. A team could get tired quicker. It could feel like a mountain to climb. Yet, Nebraska managed to stay in it and keep on climbing.
Give credit to Roby, Palmer and Watson. All three accounted for all of Nebraska’s points for most of the game. It wasn’t until just over 13 minutes left in the second half that Tanner Borchardt got on the board, adding another scorer to the lineup. It’s hard to discredit that.
Like the Big Ten Tournament, we’ll start to question how long this run can go. Nebraska has to lose it legs at some point, right? Maybe?
Look, nothing Nebraska is doing at this point makes much sense. Let’s just go with it. It’s much more fun this way.
Oh, and because it should probably be noted: Nebraska ended up only playing six players all game.
Miles survives to coach another game for Nebraska. Athletic director Bill Moos was in attendance Wednesday night, sitting in his private suite for the Huskers’ win over Butler. Moos released a statement after the Big Ten Tournament loss to Wisconsin that he would stay true to his word and would “evaluate” the Nebraska men’s basketball team after the season.
So, as long as Nebraska remains in post-season, Miles continues to coach.
Let’s call a spade a spade. It’s a little awkward. There are rumors aplenty about the future of Miles’ job and some guy named Fred Hoiberg taking it. Those rumors are only going to get louder as the days go by, no matter where Nebraska ends up in the NIT.
But we’ll worry about that another day. For now, Nebraska has survived and is advancing. And because of that, Miles is too.
Bonus: Johnny Trueblood remains a legend.
Double bonus: Huskers fans raised $28,541 in-venue on Wednesday to aid flood relief in Nebraska.
The Huskers will face TCU in the second round of the NIT.
Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has also been featured on the Big Ten Network, NET’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a varsity of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.