Run it Back: Glynn Gets Going Again
Photo Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Run it Back: Glynn Gets Going Again

March 06, 2019

Nebraska’s defense has collapsed down the stretch (minus that game against Purdue; where did that come from?) but on the flip side, Nebraska got a great performance from its senior guards against Michigan State in the Huskers’ 91-76 loss on Tuesday.

Derek Peterson touched on James Palmer Jr. in his Three Takeaways after the game, so I’ll focus on Glynn Watson Jr. who was even better, even if he didn’t score more.

The senior point guard finished with 25 points on 9-of-17 from the field, 5-of-10 from 3 and 2-of-3 from the free-throw line with four assists, four rebounds and two turnovers in 39 minutes. 

Nebraska couldn’t have asked for a better sequence to start the game. Defense leads to offense and the Huskers got a wide open catch-and-shoot look for Watson.

It’s amazing sometimes how much bigger the basket looks when your first shot goes down. Two minutes later, the Huskers got the ball back to Watson on the right wing.

Roby set a screen, Matt McQuaid went under and Kenny Goins didn’t hedge, so Watson took advantage of the space and let it fly from just a step beyond where his first shot came from. Money.

Two in a row and now Watson is really feeling good. A few minutes later, Nebraska ran a play for him. He passed the ball off to Roby on the wing then set a screen under the basket for Palmer. Roby swung the ball to Tanner Borchardt popping to the top of the key and Watson ran off a screen from Amir Harris into a dribble hand-off with Borchardt. None of that shook Cassius Winston, however, so Watson went into iso-mode and took a long fadeaway two over Winston’s contest.

That’s a pretty bad shot in any situation, but in this case, Watson was already hot and he knocked it down. It’s a shot he’s obviously capable of making, and in the last 10 seconds of the shot clock it’s much better than taking the same shot in an effort to get himself going or early in the shot clock.

Watson started 3-for-3 and powered Nebraska to a 10-8 lead at the first media timeout. He pushed it a bit too much with his next shot, getting a big man switched onto him and settling for a step-back 3 that didn't fall. That shot went up at the 13:43 mark.

Watson didn’t shoot the ball again until the 2:57 mark when he got fouled on a 3-pointer that he missed. Between Watson shot attempts, the Huskers got outscored 29-10 and shot 4-of-15 from the field with five turnovers.

This is why Nebraska can’t have nice things.

After hitting two of his three free throws, Watson rose up and launched another 3-pointer on the next possession but didn’t make it. He didn’t shoot the ball in the final two minutes of the half.

The Huskers didn’t go away from Watson in the second half, however. He led the team in shot attempts with 11 and scored 15 points. As a team, the huskers scored 47 points and shot 53.3 percent in the second half. Huh.

Watson was aggressive coming out of the locker room after halftime, firing up a 3 less than 10 seconds into the half. He missed it, but Nebraska went back to him two possessions later and this time he didn’t miss.

That’s vintage bucket-getting Glynn. He scored on a layup on the next possession too. Nebraska didn’t got more than a couple minutes in a row in the second half without Watson making a play for himself or others.

That playmaking was a pleasant surprise in the second half as well as all four of his assist came in the final 20 minutes. Watson had recorded just three total assists in the previous three games and hadn’t recorded four of them in a game since the loss at Rutgers on Jan. 21. Palmer had more or less taken over the point guard and playmaking duties over the course of Big Ten play, but Palmer had his eyes directed at the basket all game long on Tuesday so it was important for Watson to sep up and get others involved.

Watson has struggled mightily to see open teammates and make a play in pick-and-roll situations this season, but his first assist came on a pick-and-pop with Isaiah Roby.

As soon as Roby set the screen Watson saw that Goins was hedging and he knew where he was going with the ball. He was on time and hit Roby right in the shooting pocket, and Roby knocked down the 3.

The next two assists both came in the open floor as Watson did a great job of pushing the ball up the floor and keeping his eyes open.

Goins missed a 3-pointer which Amir Harris rebounded and Roby leaked out, forcing Goins to sprint back to cover him. Meanwhile, freshman Brady Heiman read the play and took off as soon as he saw the ball was headed towards Harris.

Harris hit Watson with the outlet pass and Watson pushed it up the floor with the dribble. For some reason, Thomas Kithier (the guy who is supposed to be guarding Heiman) decides to pick up the ball and slow down Watson instead of continuing to sprint back and catch up with Heiman, even though Winston was there waiting for Watson at the arc. Watson split Kithier and Winston with a perfect pass and Heiman finished with a layup.

On the second play, the ball bounced to Watson and he hit the turbo button looking to put pressure on the Spartans.

One Michigan State player hit the deck in the scramble for the ball, giving the Huskers numbers. By pushing the ball and getting a piece of the paint, Watson turns a three-on-three into a five-on-four and finds the open man, Palmer trailing for a catch-and-shoot 3 from the left wing.

The last assist came with the highest degree of difficulty and it came in the halfcourt.

Realizing a big in Goins had switched onto him, Watson waved off a screen from Amir Harris so he could isolate on his man and break him down off the dribble. Knowing his teammate is at a disadvantage, Michigan State center Xavier Tillman pinched in to try to cut off Watson’s driving lane. Roby recognized that Tillman had lost sight of him and made a great cut.

Watson read Roby’s cut and made the pass through a tight window. McQuaid helped over from the corner but Roby was strong enough to make the catch and finish through McQuaid’s foul for the and-one opportunity.

All of those assists came while the Huskers were making their run in the second half. They pulled as close as seven before running out of gas as the damage from the first half proved to be too much to overcome.

Watson hasn’t had a great season, at least since the Huskers entered conference play, but when he’s playing like he did on Tuesday, Nebraska needs to play through him. There’s no excuse for Nebraska to go nearly 11 minutes between shot attempts for their senior point guard.

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