Run it Back: Watson's Woes Against Wisconsin
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Run it Back: Watson’s Woes Against Wisconsin

January 10, 2018

After Nebraska’s win at Northwestern on Jan. 2, I wrote about how important Glynn Watson Jr. would be in Big Ten play. After a couple of quiet games, Watson exploded for 19 points and six assists to lead the Huskers to victory.

However, in the two games since then, Watson has totaled just 10 points and five assists. He shot 2-of-10 at Purdue and 0-of-6 against Wisconsin. The junior point guard didn’t even score against the Badgers until the final minute when Wisconsin sent him to the free-throw line to extend the game.

On Wednesday, Watson had a message for the fans on Twitter.

Watson is right. In recent years, if one of Nebraska’s best players had an off game the Huskers were going to have a tough time winning. On Tuesday, though, Nebraska got contributions from up and down the lineup and managed to come out on top.

James Palmer Jr. (18 points), Isaac Copeland (12 points) and Anton Gill (eight points) all hit right around their averages and are emerging as steady contributors.

Perhaps the only rotation player who has struggled more than Watson lately is sophomore Jordy Tshimanga, but the center stepped it up against the Badgers. He finished with a season-high nine points, grabbed six rebounds and finished a game-high plus-16 in his 18 minutes. 

“I thought Jordy did a really nice job the second half,” Coach Tim Miles said. “He defended well. He was good for us on offense and on the glass. It was good to see and should give him a shot of confidence.“

Tshimanga’s performance follows a couple of good games from Tanner Borchardt and some solid stretches from Duby Okeke. All Nebraska needs is one of those three to step up in any given game.

“If we don’t have Jordy, we might not win the game, and I feel the same way about Thomas Allen,” Miles said. “I thought he did a lot of really smart things for us. Not the usual suspects, some of the other guys really came to save the day.”

After going scoreless in three of his first four conference games, freshman Thomas Allen put in eight points off the bench with some strong takes to the basket, going right at Wisconsin’s Big Ten All-Defensive Team member Ethan Happ. 

“They’re a strong defensive team,” Miles said about Wisconsin. “I thought they did a good job of switching and then I thought we made bad decisions on the switches. We had Ethan Happ out there and the only guy that really drove him hard was Thomas. Thomas played a really good game and the rest of the guys settled for jumpers.”

Perhaps that settling has something to do with Watson’s struggles. Take out his 29-point game against Minnesota and Watson has shot just 3-of-25 inside the arc, with all three of those makes coming against Northwestern (on nine attempts).

Watson has always been a tough-shot-taker, and in the past, he’s been able to hit those shots at a good enough rate to maintain a baseline of efficiency. However, those tough shots aren’t falling this year and the 6-foot point guard is struggling to find other ways to score. According to Miles, Watson’s struggles extended beyond scoring on Tuesday as well.

“Glynn wasn’t very good defensively, wasn’t mentally strong tonight,” Miles said. “He got beat on an easy right-hand drive then gave up a 3 early. He was kind of in the middle of some bad mixes. I thought he did a good job after sitting out for a while of coming in and making free throws when we needed him to. We’ll get him going.”

Miles has said that a couple different times, and now Watson has said it himself as well. But talk is cheap. The Huskers have a big opportunity ahead of them with so many teams in the Big Ten struggling this season.

Three points form Watson was enough to beat a down Wisconsin team ravaged by injuries and a lack of development, but that likely won’t be the case against the likes of Penn State, Michigan  and Ohio State, all teams Nebraska plays in the next two weeks.

It’s time for Watson to find his game.

  • Never miss the latest news from Hail Varsity!

    Join our free email list by signing up below.