Nebraska held its second straight opponent under 40 points to open the season as the Huskers ran away from Southeastern Louisiana for an 87-35 win on Sunday afternoon.
Nebraska held the Lions to 26.8 percent from the field including 3-of-17 (17.6 percent) from deep while forcing 25 turnovers and converting them into 33 points.
"What I like about the team is they were able to play with a mentality and show the versatility to defend the right way,” Coach Tim Miles said. “I think we've been OK defensively, and we were really good until we got to 78 points, on offense, and then we just stopped. I think we've shown that mindset and that consistency and certainly you want to see that."
Six Huskers scored in double figures including all five starters. Senior guard James Palmer Jr. led the way with 17 points on 5-of-10 from the field and 7-of-8 from the foul line and chipped in four assists and four steals as well. Senior point guard Glynn Watson Jr. added 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting (2-of-5 from 3) and six rebounds.
Senior forward Isaac Copealnd Jr. scored 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting. Isaiah Roby had 10 points and a game-high seven rebounds. Sophomore guard Thomas Allen Jr. had 10 points, a game-high five assists and three steals.
Overall, the Huskers shot 56.4 percent from the field including 76.7 percent inside the arc. The dished out 21 assists on their 31 buckets and only turned the ball over seven times.
Nebraska got off to a slow start, falling behind 7-4 early, but Miles turned up the intensity with a little pressure and Southeastern Louisiana turnovers fueled a 22-0 run by the Huskers. Nebraska held the Lions scoreless for nearly nine minutes before Quinton Thomas got a layup to fall.
“After the first timeout, Coach Miles kind of got into us because they were playing harder than us,” Roby said. “We started pressing them and defense turned into offense for us, so I think that was really big for us.”
The Lions hit a 3 on the following possession then Nebraska closed the half on a 24-4 run as Palmer got himself going with a few transition buckets. Nebraska mixed in some pressing and some 1-3-1 zone on defense throughout the game and Miles said the players executed the switching defenses well.
“I think it really helped us,” Miles said. “I think we had 16 straight stops in the first half and the press and the zone were part of that. You’re just going to have to protect yourself this year. We’re going to have to press some to slow these guys up. Our 1-3-1 has always been good for us for the last two, three years. This is our third year with it, something that I like to go to. But if you get foul trouble you’re kind of looking for those opportunities to protect some guys and so we need reps. I thought it really helped tonight to keep Southeast Louisiana off-balance.”
Nebraska led 52-16 at halftime after shooting 16-of-17 inside the arc (but just 2-of-12 outside of it). The Huskers held the Lions to 7-of-28 from the field and forced 16 turnovers, converting them into 20 points on the other end. Nebraska had 30 points in the paint and 15 in transition at the half.
Palmer had seven of his 15 first half points in the final 1:45 of the half. All 10 healthy, eligible scholarship players saw action int he first half and eight of them found their way into the scoring column. Nebraska had 11 assists on its 18 field goals and only turned the ball over three times.
Nebraska opened the half with an 8-0 run that included three more Southeastern Louisiana turnovers and the Huskers continued to roll from there. Nebraska had the Lions tripled up 63-21 at the under-16 media timeout.
The Huskers found their touch from the perimeter in the second half, connecting on six of their 13 3-point attempts and continued to stretch out the lead, making way for the reserves to see plenty of action down the stretch. Heiman capped off the scoring for Nebraska with a two-handed slam late.
.@roby_isaiah graded this dunk by @bradyph45 a "solid 8, 8.5." Said the freshman has more in him though. #Nebrasketball pic.twitter.com/75NufqahT7
— Jacob Padilla (@JacobPadilla_) November 11, 2018
The slam gave Heiman 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting to go with five rebounds and two blocks. Through two games, the 6-foot-11 Platteview product has 19 points, 18 rebounds and three blocks in just under 38 minutes of action.
“He’s going to have to play for us and he’s shown every game he’s not just in there as a body, he’s in there to make plays,” Roby said. “He’s definitely going to help us out.”
The level of competition will take a significant step up next week as the Huskers will host Seton Hall on Wednesday in the Gavitt Tipoff Games pitting the Big Ten against the Big East.
“It’s a high-major team and lost year we lost the match-up to a Big East team so we want to make sure we come out and make a statement early,” Copeland said.
Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m. on BTN.