Nebraska Husker basketball player signaling a play to his teammates.
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

They Said It: Huskers on Beating Creighton, Palmer’s 30-Piece and More

December 09, 2018

The Huskers moved to 8-2 on the season (1-1 Big Ten) Saturday with a 94-75 win over Creighton (6-3). It was the first Husker win in the rivalry series since 2010 and head coach Tim Miles’ first as the Huskers’ leading man. After the game, they met with the media. 

Here’s what they had to say.

Head coach Tim Miles

Opening statement:

“I just want to congratulate women’s volleyball. I didn’t see they won but I heard. We were in a timeout and it sounds like Coach Cook got it done in volleyball. And Amy’s team, too. We got the trifecta today.”

On how meaninful this win was for him?

“It’s meaningful. I won’t be happy until we get 13 more. We had to get it and this is the kind of team that should get it. I thought our guys were really locked in and played a great game.”

On every member of the rotation playing well in the win?

“Every guy made these huge plays. I think when you look at the start, James Palmer coming out and shooting the ball so well. Isaiah and Isaac did what they always do. They’re always super hard to guard. I was so happy for Glynn, he played really well, did some really good things. And then Tom Allen, it looked like he was shot out of a canon tonight. He was really playing quick and hard and fast and it reminded me of the Kansas game last year a little bit. Nana Akenten with a hustle play. Tanner Borchardt, Brady [Heiman] with offensive rebounds, saving possessions.

“Every guy who played… and we’re down a man. Amir Harris is ill and we don’t know when we’re going to get him back. We’re treating him for strep throat.

“So as you look at this, I thought every guy was locked in and played tremendous.”

On how important James Palmer Jr.’s first three 3s were for the team?

“James is a playmaker and the bigger the stage, the bigger the performance. He was terrific and it didn’t surprise me at all. But he needed to get going. Nobody works harder than James Palmer, either. I thought he took some pretty good shots and then he took some deep ones, but sometimes when you’re feeling it you’re feeling it.

“Then in the second half, he just didn’t fall in love with it. He did a good job driving, finding guys and getting fouled a couple times. And that’s what James is best at. When he has the ability to hit inside and out, that’s a tough guard.”

How important were those shots from the team’s perspective?

“The guys would probably answer that better than I would. For me, in running our stuff, it’s like you've got a free pass on stuff. When he gets going, now you can start saying, ‘Okay here’s how we can counter that to get some other guys going.’ Or, ‘If they know James is here we know they’re going to hop out on him and we can get them someplace else.’

“I mean, I’m not going to give you my game plan. But Palmer is just such a difference-maker, that was huge tonight.”

On the significance of Isaiah Roby’s second-half rebound that led to an Isaac Copeland 3 with 3:46 remaining to put the Huskers up 84-70?

“Every sequence with Creighton is vital because they’ve got so many offensive weapons, so that was huge. And Copeland’s done that more than once. He did some stuff at Clemson, too. Isaiah, I thought he played very strong tonight and when he plays like that, he’s very tough to handle so that was a huge sequence.

“But, for me, I want to credit our crowd. What a festive, great environment. It was like a big party. It was a lot of fun and a lot of fun to be a part of.”

On knowing what the rivalry means to the fanbase and what kind of sense he got of the fan reaction?

“I’m just so happy for our program and our fans. Much has been made about it and today was a great Husker day, that’s for sure.”

On Creighton coach Greg McDermott describing the Huskers as a veteran team desperate for a win?

“In the pregame, in warmups, Michael Lewis came in when the guys were out there and he goes, ‘They’re either nervous or laser-focused.’ I think we know where they were, they were laser-focused.”

On the team’s short memory after the Minnesota loss?

“Thursday was a difficult day. We came in and watched film and everyone was disappointed and I said, ‘Okay we’re going to do the Creighton prep,’ and everyone was like oh my goodness. But they gutted it out. We went out and practiced for about an hour, an hour and 15 [minutes] and you have to credit them for just getting back on the horse because that was a tough loss.”

On the double-technical in the first half

“I don’t know what the refs were doing but I’m always confused by those refs.”

On how much he saw guys playing for each other?

“A tremendous amount. Because every guy made plays, you could see they were all playing for the right reasons. They were playing for a Husker victory and that includes them and that includes me and that includes our fans. That’s what’s really important, is this is a team that identifies the right things.

“I told them at the beginning of the year, ‘I feel like we can beat anybody we play at anytime, anywhere.’ And that’s not always the case. You know, sometimes you’re like we might need an act of God tonight to get a win, and maybe you do but usually you don’t. But with these guys, I just feel like they’ve got a lot of versatility and we can do enough things.

“Today was just a lot of fun.”

On knocking down 3s?

“I don’t know that anybody was willing to give us anything. I think our guys shared the ball pretty well. I think our assists we decent, we had 15 assists on 32 field goals. Not bad. When you look at things, as you share the ball I think you’re more likely to get that open rhythm shot.”

On whether he had a favorite part of the day?

“Not really so far. There might be a cold Coors Light at home though. I’m just proud of the guys. What I thought was cool was every guy stepped up. I can single out individual plays that everybody stepped up for the good of the team.

“That was one of my keys at the beginning of the game, win the 50-50 balls. Against Texas Tech we didn’t. Somebody else, too, I didn’t think we did a very good job, might have been against Clemson. Either way, we have to come up with those loose basketballs. That’s about attentiveness and feel and attention to detail.”

On if he had a comment about beating McDermott?

“No. I mean, I’ll be happy when we get 13 more. It was a great day to be a Husker. But other than that, we just march on because we’ve got a good Oklahoma State team and then Fullerton went to the NCAA [Tournament] last year and then Brad Biggler at Southwest, my former school, I don’t trust that game.

“I’ll probably enjoy it on the golf course. Not until then.”

On if he feels good about the team after 10 games?

“I don’t know. We’ve still got that Minnesota game hanging out there where we just didn’t guard the way we should. We still need to clean a lot of stuff up.”

Guard James Palmer Jr.

On how bad they wanted to win?

“Definitely before the game and all week at practice, we’ve just been locked in and focused. Today, we were just so hyped before the game, we were just ready to play and it really showed in the first half.”

On Thomas Allen and his huge game?

“I think the best is yet to come for Thomas. Today was just a stepping point in helping us get that win and we always preaching to him, ‘be more aggressive, be more aggressive’ and today I guess it finally kicked in. He definitely led us the first half, basically.”

On tonight’s crowd?

“This might be one of the best crowds I’ve played in front of. Since I’ve been here this has been one of the best.”

Guard Thomas Allen Jr.

On what was working for him offensively?

“Last night I didn’t sleep and my dad, he’s here as well. He hasn’t seen me play here since the Kansas game last year. So my mom couldn’t make it because my youngest sister had school so I was just playing for my dad and my mom today.”

Forward Isaiah Roby

On what the win means to them?

“I think the two people that got the most out of this was definitely Coach Miles and Glynn. That’s an in-state rivalry, obviously, and it just a big-time win for us. As a team, it was just big time for sure.”

On what was different about this game compared to the Minnesota game?

“I think the one thing we did differently between here and Minnesota is we stayed aggressive. At Minnesota, we kind of started to coast. We started running our offense slow and you’re not going to score much doing that. All five guys on the court were just being aggressive and we were just attacking them.”

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