Run It Back: Huskers Need More from Pair of Shooting Guards
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Run It Back: Huskers Need More from Pair of Shooting Guards

January 25, 2018

Perhaps the biggest surprises (on the positive side) this season for Nebraska was the play of senior guards Evan Taylor and Anton Gill.

Taylor, a junior college transfer the Huskers picked up to add backcourt depth last season, struggled to make an impact offensively. Even so, he moved into the starting lineup late in the nonconference schedule and stayed there for the last 21 games.

Even with the increased role, Taylor finished with the same amount of games in double figures as he did with four or fewer points (six). He was a complete non-shooter (24 percent on less than one 3-point attempt per game) and he averaged the same number of turnovers as assists (1.2).

As for Gill, an offseason injury set him back prior to his first season on the court for the Huskers, and he struggled out of the gates before another injury ended his season after just 12 games. The Louisville transfer averaged 3.8 points and shot 27.6 percent from 3 and even worse (26.7) inside the arc.

Gill’s injury was serious enough that expectations for him to contribute this season — especially early on — were low.

However, both Taylor and Gill looked like completely different players during nonconference play.

In 13 nonconference games — all starts — the 6-foot-5 Taylor averaged 9.2 points and 3.3 assists while shooting 45.6 percent inside the arc and a blistering 57.1 percent from 3 (albeit on just 1.6 attempts per game).

Gill missed a couple of games, but in his 11 non-league games off the bench, he poured in 11.5 points per game while shooting 48.3 percent from deep on more than five attempts per game. 

After contributing a combined nine points last season, the two shooting guards were north of 20 throughout the nonconference slate, giving the Huskers the kind of offensive balance they needed to compete, especially with Glynn Watson Jr. struggling.

However, we’re more than halfway though the Big Ten slate and the nonconference is in the distant past. 

In Wednesday’s 60-54 win at Rutgers, Taylor and Gill combined for exactly one point in 44 minutes. That comes on the heels of the duo scoring nine points on 13 shots in 50 minutes in Nebraska’s 64-59 loss at Ohio State on Monday.

In fact, their numbers in Big Ten play are downright troubling. 

Taylor is averaging 4.0 points and 1.4 assists. He’s shooting 37.1 percent inside the arc and is just 1-of-7 from 3. In fact, Taylor’s struggles led to a starting lineup change with Gill taking his place at shooting guard.

However, Gill is only scoring 6.0 points per game and shooting 32.5 percent from 3 on four attempts per game.

Each player has only cracked double digits twice in 10 Big Ten games.

A lack of production from the shooting guard position is a problem on multiple fronts. It’s obviously putting more pressure on the likes of James Palmer Jr. and Isaac Copeland to carry the scoring load (Palmer had 34 against Ohio State, Copeland had 23 against Rutgers).

But even more important is that Gill and Taylor are the only two players on the roster shooting better than 36 percent from 3. With their two best shooters struggling, the Huskers have managed to shoot better than 36 percent from 3 just three times in Big Ten play. Without decent floor spacing, it's going to be hard for Palmer to continue doing what he's been doing and to get other guys like Watson and Isaiah Roby going.

Both Taylor and Gill continue to contribute defensively, but as good as the Huskers have been on that end they aren’t going to hold every opponent they face under 65 points.

Watson’s struggles have grabbed the headlines, but the entire backcourt has really struggled. Nebraska has to find a way to get guard production out of someone not named James Palmer Jr. 

  • Never miss the latest news from Hail Varsity!

    Join our free email list by signing up below.