Run it Back: Small Ball Not Enough if Huskers Are a One-Man Show
Photo Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Run it Back: Small Ball Not Enough if Huskers Are a One-Man Show

January 23, 2018

On Monday, James Palmer Jr. exploded for a career-high 34 points on 11-of-18 shooting at No. 13 Ohio State. 

The Huskers still lost, 64-59.

The rest of the Nebraska backcourt (seniors Anton Gill and Evan Taylor, junior Glynn Watson Jr. and freshman Thomas Allen) combined for 11 points on 5-of-23 shooting. 

The first bucket by a guard not named Palmer came at the 15:01 mark of the second half as Anton Gill hit a 13-foot pull-up jumper. Gill, the team’s most prolific 3-point shooter at 2.1 made 3s per game at a 44.2 percent clip, shot 1-of-7 from deep.

Watson, the team’s third-leading scorer, made his first and only shot at the 8:37 mark of the second half (more on his recent struggles later) and only dished out two assists (on five assist chances) in 30 minutes.

Evan Taylor went nearly 6 minutes without attempting a shot in his first stint on the floor. When he returned, he put up ugly misses around the rim on back-to-back possessions. He finally did convert a one-dribble pull-up from the elbow with 12:43 to play then got a layup in transition with 5:32 to play, but those were his only buckets. 

Freshman Thomas Allen missed a catch-and-shoot 3 then stepped on the sideline as he caught a pass in the corner on the next possession. His only other statistic in 9 minutes was a rebound.

The front court wasn’t outstanding either, accounting for 14 points on 5-of-13 shooting among five players, but that was still better than what the guards did.

Speaking of the frontcourt, Nebraska’s small-ball lineup that stymied the Michigan Wolverines last week apparently isn’t a miracle lineup that ensures victory no matter how loudly John Beilein sings its praises.

Fresh off a career-high 14 points against the Wolverines, sophomore forward Isaiah Roby managed just two points on three shot attempts while starting at the five. 

Ohio State freshman Kaleb Wesson, listed at 6-foot-9 and 270 pounds, was a handful for the 6-foot-8, 226-pound Roby and whoever else Nebraska threw at him. Wesson put up 12 points on 3-of-5 from the field and 6-of-8 from the foul line with seven rebounds (four offensive) in just 13 minutes as foul trouble was the only thing that could slow him down.

Nebraska’s small-ball defense didn’t exactly lock down Ohio State’s wings either, as after a slow first half, Big Ten scoring leader Keita Bates-Diop put up 14 in the second to finish with 20 points and senior Jae’Sean Tate added 17.

Nebraska’s defense held up for the first half, but the Buckeyes figured the Huskers out in the second half and shot 51.9 percent from the field.

Sophomore center Jordy Tshimanga actually gave Nebraska really good minutes, grabbing four rebounds and scoring four points on 2-of-2 shooting (a put-back and a jump-hook). He was a team-best plus-5. The only problem is he fouled even faster than Wesson did, racking up four of them in just nine minutes.

Nebraska had a chance to secure a much-needed top-25 win against the Buckeyes, but only one player truly showed up. Palmer has scored 18 or more in eight of his last 10 games, and he needs some help.

He didn’t get it on Monday, and the Huskers dropped another big game.

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