No. 24 Nebraska’s offense abandoned it on Tuesday night as the Huskers fell to Texas Tech 70-52 in the championship game of the Hall of Fame Classic at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
Nebraska (4-1) shot 17-of-48 (354 percent) from the field, 5-of-23 (21.7 percent) from the 3-point arc and 13-of-21 (61.9 percent) from the free-throw line. The Huskers turned the ball over 14 times while recording just six assists.
The Red Raiders (5-0) outscored Nebraska 34-18 in the paint, 19-8 in points off turnovers and 10-3 in second-chance points. Sophomore guard Jarrett Culver scored 20 of his game-high 26 points in the second half, shooting 7-of-10 from the field (3-of-3 from deep) and 3-of-4 from the line in the final 20 minutes.
Isaac Copeland Jr. led the Huskers with 20 points on 5-of-9 from the field and 9-of-14 from the foul line. The other four starters combined for 29 points on 11-of-35 shooting. Coach Tim Miles went just three deep into his bench — sophomore wing Nana Akenten, freshman guard Amir Harris and senior center Tanner Borchardt — and the trio combined for just 24 minutes and accounted for three points, four rebounds and five fouls.
James Palmer Jr. powered the Huskers to an early lead, sparking a 13-2 run that featured a three-point play, a 3-pointer and an assist from the senior guard. Watson capped the run with a 3-pointer of his own, drawing a timeout from the Red Raiders.
Texas Tech snapped the run with a dunk, then after the teams traded buckets Palmer was called for his second offensive foul at the 12:13 mark, the second time in as many games he’s committed two charges in the first half.
Palmer took a seat and the Nebraska offense went with him. The Huskers missed six straight shots and went nearly five minutes without scoring as Texas Tech put together a 12-0 run that gave the Red Raiders an 18-15 lead.
Texas Tech grabbed six offensive rebounds and converted them into seven points in the first 12 minutes of the game.
Miles sent Palmer back into the game with his two fouls at the 8:55 mark and the Huskers scored on the next play with Copeland hitting a short jumper. Tech held a 22-19 lead before the Huskers scored five straight — another 3 by Palmer and a pair of free throws by Copeland — to pull ahead 24-22. Nebraska used some token pressure and forced a few Tech turnovers to aid their run.
The Red Raiders settled down and scored two straight buckets to pull ahead 26-24 but Copeland scored to tie it up again. The Nebraska offense dried up again in the final two minutes of the half, however, as Tech closed it on a 6-0 run to lead 32-26 at halftime.
Palmer and Copland combined for 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting in the first half. The rest of the Huskers totaled just nine points on 3-of-13 shooting.
Overall, the Huskers shot 37.5 percent from the field including 3-of-12 from deep and had twice as many turnovers (eight) as assists (four). Tech only shot 1-of-5 from 3 in the first half but connected on 13 of their 26 attempts inside the arc.
Palmer picked up his third foul 27 seconds into the second half after the Huskers failed to secure a rebound and a layup by Jarrett Culver pushed Tech’s lead to eight. Nebraska countered with an 8-2 consisting of 3s by Copeland and Watson and a bucket inside by Roby.
Culver scored again, then a turnover by Copeland led to Palmer’s fourth foul at the 15:10 mark and he took a seat on the bench. Free throws by Culver pushed the Tech lead to six before Thomas Allen Jr. knocked down a mid-range jumper, scoring Nebraska’s first points of the game with Palmer off the floor.
After a jumper by Davide Moretti, sophomore Nana Akenten hit a pull-up jumper for Nebraska’s first bench points of the game at the 12:26 mark.
The Red Raiders scored six straight to take their first double-digit lead at 48-38, with 3 of those coming on a triple by Culver on a baseline out of bounds play in which the Huskers completely lost Tech’s star guard and left him wide open. Nebraska made three of four free throws to cut it back to seven but Tech countered with a 13-3 run to take a 61-44 lead with about six minutes to play.
Palmer scored back-to-back buckets to cut it to 13, but the Red Raiders outscored he Huskers 9-4 over the final five minutes as the Huskers just couldn’t find a way to generate some offense. Palmer fouled out with 1:51 to play on another offensive foul, finishing with 13 points on 5-of-13 shooting and four turnovers in 27 minutes.
The Huskers will look to get back on track back home at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Saturday afternoon as the Huskers will host Western Illinois for a 1 p.m. tipoff.
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.