Nebraska's NIT Run—and Season—Comes to an End Against TCU
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Nebraska’s NIT Run—and Season—Comes to an End Against TCU

March 25, 2019

Nebraska’s run through the NIT came to an end in Fort Worth on Sunday night as the fourth-seeded Huskers fell to the top-seeded TCU Horned Frogs 88-72.

For the fifth straight game, senior guards James Palmer Jr. and Glynn Watson Jr. played all 40 minutes but Nebraska’s top two scorers just didn’t have it offensively in the first half, combining for 36 points on 14-of-44 from the field and 5-of-19 from 3 for the game.

Senior Tanner Borchardt was Nebraska’s best player on Sunday night, finishing with a career-high 16 points and 13 rebounds (seven offensive) while shooting 6-of-6 from the field and 4-of-8 from the foul line. Senior walk-on Johnny Trueblood and sophomore Thorir Thorbjarnarson chipped in eight points, three rebounds and three assists apiece.

Junior forward Isaiah Roby fouled out in just 16 minutes, converting both of his shots for four points, grabbing two rebounds and turning the ball over twice.

Nebraska shot 43.1 percent from the field, 31.8 percent from 3 and 52.9 percent from the free-throw line while the Horned Frogs shot 50.9 percent overall including 10-of-28 from 3 and 80 percent from the foul line. Five Horned Frogs reached double figures scoring led by Desmond Bane’s 30 points while Alex Robinson chipped in nine points and nine assists.

TCU jumped out to a 10-4 lead early with another slow start by the Huskers. Thorbjarnarson scored inside, his second bucket of the first few minutes, but Roby picked up his second foul and Kouat Noi hit two free throws to put the Horned Frogs back up by six. Roby took a seat at the 15:19 mark but Watson stepped up, sparking an 8-0 run to give the Huskers a 14-12 lead. Watson scored six of the eight points.

Both teams went ice cold from the field but TCU pulled back out in front from the free throw line before Borchardt tied it at 15-15, also from the charity stripe. TCU got a bucket inside from JD Miller but the Huskers answered with a 3-pointer from Thobjarnarson, snapping a streak of six straight misses from the field.

Thorbjarnarson’s shot was only a brief reprieve from Nebraska’s offensive struggles, however, as the Horned Frogs put together a 12-2 run to pull ahead 31-21. The Huskers turned the ball over four times during that stretch.

Borchardt led the charge in a 9-4 run as Nebraska cut the deficit down to five at 35-30 but TCU answered with a 3-pointer. Trueblood caught the defense sleeping with a slip to the rim for a layup and Nebraska got a stop, but they didn’t finish the play and Kouat Noi beat the buzzer with an acrobatic put-back to give the Horned Frogs a 40-32 lead at halftime.

Palmer did not score in the first half, missing all 10 of his shots and turning the ball over twice. Watson had eight points but it took hime nine shots to get there.

Borchardt did the heavy lifting in the first half with eight points and seven rebounds including five on the offensive end. He converted both of his shots and four of his six free throws. Thobrjarnarson added seven points and Trueblood chipped in five points and a pair of assists.

The Huskers shot 37.5 percent from the field including 2-of-9 from deep. The Horned Frogs didn’t shoot much better from deep but doubled the Huskers in makes, shooting 4-of-16. Both teams shot 11 free throws but Nebraska missed five of them and TCU only missed one.

Palmer came alive to start the second half, knocking down his first three 3-pointers. Nebraska pulled within five and then within six, but TCU pushed the lead back to double figures each time. Roby picked up his fourth foul and took a seat at the 18:28 mark but checked back in with 14:29 to play and Nebraska down 10.

After trading scores, Roby beat TCU guard Kendric Davis for a loose ball to get a steal and Davis fell on him, but after giving up the ball to a teammate Roby pushed Davis off of him and was called for a flagrant foul, his fifth.

Davis hit both free throws then knocked down a 3 on the ensuing possession, pushing the lead to 13 at 62-49. A 3 by Trueblood and a layup by Palmer cut it back to eight with 10:38 to play but that was as close as the Huskers got the rest of the way.

Nebraska cut it to nine a few times but the Horned Frogs held a double-digit lead for most of the final 10 minutes as the short-handed Huskers struggled to match TCU’s athleticism enough to get stops.

TCU outscored Nebraska 10-4 in the last four minutes to pull away for the 16-point win, ending the Huskers’ season at 19-17.

The Horned Frogs shot nearly 60 percent from the field including 6-of-12 from deep in the second half.

Palmer scored all 19 points in the second half, surpassing Dave Hoppen’s single-season scoring record of 704 points which was set in 1984-85. Palmer finished his senior season with 708 points in 36 games. 

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