For the first time since the last time Nebraska faced Penn State, the Huskers cracked 70 points. Unfortunately for the Huskers, they also gave up a season-high 95 points to the Nittany Lions as Nebraska got blown out in State College on Tuesday night.
The Huskers (15-12, 5-11 Big Ten) gave up 51 points in the second half en route to their fifth straight loss in State College. Penn State (10-16, 3-12) entered the game as one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the Big Ten at 28.1 percent in league play but shot 11-of-22 against the Huskers.
Lamar Stevens went off for 29 points on 11-of-18 shooting and Rasir Bolton added 21 points off the bench on 8-of-12 from the field as the Nittany Lions shot 55.6 percent for the game including 62.1 percent in the second half.
James Palmer Jr. led the Huskers with 24 points on 7-of-20 from the field and 9-of-13 from the free-throw line. Isaiah Roby added 17 points on 8-of-10 from the field and Thomas Allen Jr. chipped in 11 points on 5-of-10 shooting (1-of-5 from 3) and five assists, tying his career high for helpers.
Nebraska found a rhythm in the second half to finish at 47.5 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from 3 for the game but nothing the Huskers tried defensively worked against the red-hot Nittany Lions.
Coach Tim Miles said on Monday that Nebraska needed to get off to a quick start in State College, but that didn’t happen. An early 10-0 run by Penn State gave the Nittany Lions a 13-4 lead before Nebraska got going a bit, scoring on four straight possessions with buckets by four different guys.
The Huskers pulled within five then went ice cold again, going nearly four-and-a-half minutes without a point as Penn State scored seven straight to build a 12-point lead. Roby finally ended the drought with a put-back but the Nittany Lions answered with Bolton’s second straight 3-pointer to push the lead to 13.
After trading buckets for a few possessions Penn State expanded the lead to 18 after Nebraska scored a total of four points in five-and-a-half minutes. Palmer hit a jumper then split a pair of free throws on the next possession before Nebraska proceeded to go scoreless for the final 1:56 of the half.
Penn State took a 44-25 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Nittany Lions shot 6-of-15 from 3 in the first half while the Huskers missed all six of their attempts from deep. Penn State shot 50 percent overall and rebounded eight of their 17 misses for 13 second-chance points.
Stevens had 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting. Glynn Watson Jr. and James Palmer Jr. both picked up two fouls in the first half while Tanner Borchardt picked up three.
Palmer led the Huskers with nine points on 4-of-12 shooting and two turnovers while Roby added eight points on 4-of-6 shooting and two giveaways. Nebraska shot 40 percent from the field and 1-of-4 from the free-throw line.
Nebraska showed some fight to start the second half as Watson hit a 3 and Palmer got a steal and drew a foul with some fullcourt pressure, hitting both free throws to cut the deficit to 14 just 31 seconds into the half. Myles Dread hit a 3 but Palmer answered with one of his own.
That’s as close as Nebraska would get. Penn State put a 14-3 run together to push the lead to 25. Previously, Nebraska’s largest deficit of the season was 20 points against Maryland on Feb. 8.
The lead never dropped below 20 the rest of the way and swelled as high as 29 at the two-minute mark before Penn State settled in for the 26-point win.
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for Nebraska the rest of the way as all four of Nebraska’s remaining opponents are currently ranked in the AP poll. Next up for Nebraska is a game against No. 15 Purdue at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Saturday. The Huskers fell at Purdue 81-62 on Feb. 9. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. on BTN.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.