Nebraska’s stay in Chicago came to an end on Friday afternoon, but the game against Wisconsin went right down to the wire.
James Palmer Jr., the hero of the first two games in the Big Ten, just didn’t have it on Friday, finishing with 15 points on 6-of-21 shooting with five of those points coming in the final 15 seconds when the Badgers already had the game in hand.
However, Nebraska’s other senior guard, Glynn Watson Jr., stepped up to shoulder the load that Palmer had been carrying. He finished with a game-high 23 points while playing the full 40 minutes for the third straight game. The degree of difficulty on most of his buckets was very high but he took over for stretches when Nebraska really needed it. Unfortunately, it seems like he ran out of gas down the stretch and couldn’t finish off a third straight upset.
Watson’s first shot was a tough fading 18-footer off a curl that he couldn’t get to fall. His second shot came out of the pick-and-roll with Watson getting downhill at full speed. He put the layup on the glass just a bit too strong but opened up an easy put-buck for Tanner Borchardt.
Watson’s first bucket came nearly eight minutes into the game and interrupted a 7-0 run by the Badgers. Nebraska ran another pick-and-roll for Watson with Borchardt, but Watson was too casual, giving his defender, Brad Davison, space to get over the screen and stay attached.
Watson pulls it back then attacks Davison, setting him up for another pick-and-roll back towards the middle of the floor.
This time, Watson comes off tight to the screen and Davison gets picked off. Watson gets a piece of the paint.
With Nate Reuvers dropping and Brevin Pritzl helping off Johnny Trueblood in the corner, Watson stepped back for the jumper instead of attacking the basket.
Watson has a tendency to fade on a lot of his jump shots, but he rose up on balance for this one. Davison contested late, but Watson got the shot off before he could affect it and knocked it down.
Wisconsin kept rolling after Watson’s jumper, however, scoring two more buckets to take a 21-8 lead. Watson answered with a much-needed 3, an open catch-and-shoot look from the corner after the Huskers swung the ball around the perimeter.
Watson missed his next three looks – a pull-up 3 in transition, an open catch-and-shoot 3 from the top of the key and a 3 off the dribble after he had Ethan Happ switch onto him.
Wisconsin stretched its lead back to 13 at 34-21. Then Watson took over. He scored the last eight points of the half, and none of his three buckets were easy looks.
It took Watson almost five minutes to get on the board in the second half. Borchardt looked to set a high screen for him but Watson refused it and blew by his defender, stepping back for a mid-range jumper.
On the next possession, Nebraska ran another high pick-and-roll. This time Watson used the screen and he came off it tight, putting Trice in a trail position. Reuvers played drop coverage, hanging back at the free-throw line instead of hedging, so Watson pulled up and nailed the 3.
Just like that, the Huskers were back within two. But Watson went nearly 10 minutes without scoring, missed his next three shots (two 3s and a tough shot around the rim with contact) and Wisconsin pulled ahead by seven, 55-48.
Nebraska went back to the high pick-and-roll and Watson used it properly as Trice was forced to chase him over the top.
Watson attacked Happ who was playing it a little higher than Reuvers had earlier. Watson got a foot in the paint as Happ cut him off.
But Watson stopped on a dime as Happ carried on by and rose up for a 13-foot jumper, on balance. Happ tried to recover to contest late but Watson hit the shot.
On the other end, Trueblood knocked the ball away from a Badger right into Watson’s hands and the senior pushed it up the floor. Trice never stopped the ball, so Watson decided to pull up from the perimeter.
Just like that, it was a two-point game again with four minutes to play.
Aleem Ford hit a mid-range jumper to push the lead to four and Watson tried to answer, isolating on Ford and pulling up for a 3 off a series of dribble moves. He faded away and missed, but Palmer took the ball away from Khalil Iverson and passed it ahead to Trueblood for a layup on the break.
Wisconsin missed two shots on the next possession and Watson was fouled on the rebound, sending him to the line for the bonus with a chance to tie the game.
He missed the front end, though, and the deficit remained two with just under two minutes to play. The Huskers gave themselves another chance, though, forcing a missed 3 by Davison which Watson rebounded.
Instead of pushing the pace, Watson walked the ball up the floor and looked to get into a set. He gave the ball up to Isaiah Roby but Roby passed it right back to him and looked to set something of a rub screen.
Roby screened Trice off but wasn’t called for a foul since there wasn’t much contact. Watson ran behind the Roby screen and looked to attack Reuvers.
Reuvers retreated and gave Watson space, so he pulled up from the elbow like he had a few times prior.
This time, however, the shot was short. Whether it was tired legs after playing for 119 straight minutes or whether he just missed the shot, Nebraska had two chances to tie the game and couldn’t take advantage.
On the other end, Trice hit a 3 to push the lead to five with less than a minute to go. Watson tried to answer with a deep catch-and-shoot look but it wasn’t close and the Badgers finished it off at the free-throw line.
With such a limited lineup, spending most of the run in Chicago playing primarily three-on-five with Trueblood Borchardt and Thorir Thorbjarnarson not being major threats to score, Tim Miles gave the ball to his senior guards and let them do their thing.
Nebraska died as it lived against Wisconsin. With the game on the line, Watson got the same kind of look he had gotten all game and just couldn’t get it to fall. Still, it was an impressive performance overall. Watson did everything he could to keep the run going but came up just a little bit short.
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.