The slide is officially over.
Nebraska won its first game in a month Wednesday night when it took down Minnesota 62-61. The Huskers built a second-half lead, watched it slip away and then got game-tying and a game-winning free throws from James Palmer Jr. with one second left on the clock outlast the Gophers.
After, head coach Tim Miles, along with Palmer, Glynn Watson Jr. and Amir Harris, met with the media to talk about the win. You can watch the full press conference here.
The following is the full transcript from the question-and-answer session.
Head coach Tim Miles
On the mood of the team after snapping the seven-game losing streak?
“I think what was interesting is a few of those guys you could see there was some relief, and then James Palmer is talking to them like ‘hey we need to build on this going into Northwestern. We need to get ready for this game.’ I thought that was a lot of leadership and a lot of maturity and that really did my heart well. There’s no foolishness or celebratory stuff, it was just, ‘let’s get ready.’ This is good. There was a collective sigh of relief, like ‘Finally, OK.’ Glynn [Watson] said something like, ‘OK, now we’ve got one, we can go’. So I’m proud of them.
“They really defended well tonight, the kids did. Minnesota is a tough team, physical team, and we hung around on the glass. I thought our screen-and-roll defense was much better than the last time and just a better game plan, better execution.”
On the Jordan Murphy charge Isaiah Roby drew late?
“We had talked about that with Isaiah. It was kind of funny, I said ‘Isaiah, man, you’ve got him set up perfectly for the charge.’ I think James said ‘Make sure he hits you twice,’ and I said ‘Forget that, go down the first time, he’s a big dude.’ That was earlier, like the under-8 or something like that. Isaiah, he knew what he was doing. I thought it was a good play.”
On Watson’s performance?
“He got a little more downhill tonight and when he can just trust his instincts and play off that, that’s where he’s at his best and I thought he was better with that tonight. A little less screen-and-roll but we still had some — they’re so physical with screen-and-roll that it's hard to get him loose. But I thought he did really well.”
On whether he feels relieved following the win?
“I don’t feel a great deal of relief right now, I just feel like ‘on to the next.’”
On the baseline out-of-bounds play with 2.7 seconds to go?
“We didn’t have a timeout, so we just called one of our out-of-bounds plays that we don’t run very much. It’s just a screen-the-screener. My son runs it on his seventh-grade, eighth-grade team. But James did a good job … It was a good play, and the guys ran the stuff right, then James knocked down the free throws.”
On Harris’ play and the overall bench performance?
“I thought all the bench guys contributed positively. Amir I thought played probably his best game since he got sick. He really helped us. Thorir had a nice little cut o the baseline at the end of the shot clock. Brady got a couple buckets. Those are really important; it gives the guys some relief and I think that really helps. We ran some subs in in the second half to make sure that we could, finish down the stretch. We didn’t have foul trouble, fortunately. An Amir was terrific tonight; defensively I thought he did some really good things.”
On what he noticed changing between the first-half start and the second?
“I think it was just we were more relaxed, we fought back. I told the guys if you’re going to get down, to get down early when we were down 10 or whatever it was, and Thomas Allen kind of looked at me and said, ‘Yeah, that makes sense.’ I didn’t really mean it but we’re still trying to convince you guys that we’re going to win this dang thing. The whole point is we made some tweaks. We stuck with what we were trying to run and get guys going downhill a little more. (Daniel) Oturu made a couple outside jump shots which we were saying, ‘OK, that’s the one you can have,’ and then he missed them in the second half and that helped. Over the course of the game, they are a very, very good team so it doesn’t surprise me that they could get up on us.”
On what they did differently in guarding Amir Coffey?
“We changed our screen-and-roll coverage.”
On the team's resilience and the atmosphere Wednesday night?
“You have to be resilient to hang in there and everybody has heard the noise, everybody. I thought our fans were phenomenal tonight, by the way. I thought they really created an environment that was positive and guys could respond to and I’m thankful for them because they had a big impact on winning. If you look at the way we won, there is that accomplishment that, hey, we can do it this way, and nobody is going to quit on this thing. Whether you’ve lost seven in a row or whatever, we’re not going to. We’re going to stay positive and keep trying to figure out how to get better and better. We’re going to keep doing it on Saturday too.”
On Watson’s defense on Coffey?
“Glynn’s quickness I think was pretty good. Glynn got help too with the screen-and-roll guys. I trust Glynn a great deal and I thought he did a really good job.”
Senior guard James Palmer Jr.
On the last possession of the game?
“When I got the foul called, I was trying to draw contact. I pump-faked maybe once or twice, and he bit a little bit and I jumped into him, so I got the foul. The free throws, I had missed a one-and-one before so I knew I had to get two to seal the deal.”
On the importance of getting the win?
“It definitely felt good for us. We were working hard. I know we lost seven in a row, but even in practice, we still were going hard, harder and harder each and every time, and we just wanted to focus and come out with a defensive mentality. Thanks to the fans. They really showed support tonight. We appreciated it.”
On being emotional after the win?
“I mean, if you lost seven straight and you finally won one, you’d feel good, right?
“We’re obviously feeling good to get a win, but we just have to be ready for Saturday. We want to keep it going, we don’t want to just win and get back to where we were at. We want to build off of this.”
On fighting through losses and frustration?
“It just shows that hard work overcomes anything. We were still working hard, no matter the losses. We just stayed locked in and knew our time was going to come. Hopefully, we can build off this and make a run from here.”
Senior guard Glynn Watson Jr.
On how good tonight felt after facing struggles?
“It felt good. I just stayed with it, kept working and the guys found me, and things like that. I just found the rhythm and got it going.”
On what was going through his mind with Palmer at the foul line?
“I just knew if he made the first one we were going to win that game. I didn’t really talk to him. I just let him focus in because he’s a good player. I just let him focus in and he made them both.”
On Amir Harris’ contributions?
“It was big. He played some great defense, gave some good minutes off the bench, came in and got his number called. That’s big for us and we’re going to need it.”
On whether they changed anything on offense?
“We changed a little bit. Coach Miles just got us in better spots to try to get downhill and try to make plays and things like that. It was just executing and playing hard and basically defense, really. That’s going to win us games, defense.”
On whether he and Palmer feed off of each other?
“If one guy gets going, they’re going to start helping off some guys and then I get an open shot and things like that and I get in a rhythm. It’s good for one person to get going.”
Freshman guard Amir Harris
On getting in and playing 15 minutes?
“It felt good just finding my rhythm and just being able to play in spots where I can rebound and get deflections and just get us open and running. That was really nice because that’s what I’ve been doing in practice the past couple weeks, so being able to put it in the game really helped.”
On blocking Coffey’s shot in the second half
“It felt good. I usually do that in practice too.”
On who he’s blocking in practice?
Harris: “It’s a little bit of everybody.”
Palmer: “Hell naw.”