A leaning triple from James Palmer Jr. gave the Huskers a one-point win, 64-63, in an ugly affair Monday night inside Pinnacle Bank Arena.
The weather outside was frosty, the shooting inside was worse, But Nebraska, now 13-7 and 4-3 in the Big Ten, escaped with the win and kept Illinois (10-9) winless in conference play this season.
Here's what the two teams had to say after the game.
Illinois head coach Brad Underwood on the final possession:
“Well as I told our team, nothing is given, everything is earned. Give Palmer credit, he made a heck of a shot. We felt pretty good watching him come up the floor, and they took about 6 seconds in the backcourt and the kid just stepped up and made a shot."
Nebraska head coach Tim Miles on the final possession:
"We knew they were going to press, which is why I called the timeout early because I didn't think we'd advance very far. We call it ‘live in the middle’ to kind of get one of your drivers the ball. Whoever gets it, the other guys running down as fast as he can to get a spot and so if they're pressing you try to ball screen it.
"Well that kind of got to be a cluster because they kind of backed it up and [guard] Glynn [Watson Jr.] didn't bust to the middle until later, but when he did, he made a really good play and found James. James is a guy that kind of practices that shot every day so I'll take it. We've been on the other end of two of them, so it was good to get one."
Palmer on if he's hit a game-winner before:
"Of course. You play basketball, you're going to hit a couple game-winners. This probably was the biggest one."
Miles on Palmer's night (game-high 24 points) following a poor showing against Penn State:
"I'm very happy for James. I thought he bounced back in a big way. He and I had a good talk. 'James, I believe in you. You're a go-to guy.' I stuck with him when he was falling down tonight. James can make plays. That's always valuable and I thought he was really good tonight. You could tell. I think he got the first bucket of the night, right down Main Street."
Palmer on if Monday night felt like redemption:
“I definitely had to come out and play well this game, couldn’t have two bad games in a row. Penn State, I really think it was on me because I didn’t show up in a road game, and we took the loss hard so we had to come out and play hard today. That’s what I tried to do, help the team as much as possible.”
Forward Isaiah Roby on using the 1-3-1 zone:
“That was big for us. We got the crowd into it, we got one or two shot clock violations which is big because the crowd gets into it after that. Then we got some blocks, some runouts, so our zone definitely got us going, got us a little run going. That’s been a big part of us, especially in the second half it’s been huge for us.”
Roby on starting his first game of the season and some new lineups:
“It’s cool to start I guess but for me it doesn’t really matter too much. I think as a team you don’t really care about it too much. I think [guard] Evan [Taylor] has been starting for us but he came off the bench and played real good for us. For us it’s just about the guys on the court, whenever they’re on the court they just have to perform. So I think we did a good job of that today.”
Miles on bringing Taylor off the bench:
"I take him out of the starting lineup and that means something to Evan. As a guy that doesn't score a lot, but does a lot of the dirty work for the team, you appreciate starting a little more than the rest of the guys. He was in the gym the last two days, working hard. To see him come out and play really sharp, I was thankful and we were lucky to have him because he made a lot of good winning plays."
Miles whether this was a must-win game for Nebraska:
"I feel that way every night. I think the guys are just really disappointed in the way they played against Penn State, the could have, would have, should have, part of it. So they wanted to come out and play better and get a win. If we make our layups, just our bunnies, it's probably eight or 10 points late in the game. We have to toughen up some. We have to get that finesse out of us and stay ball tough and stay mentally tough and finish those plays and make some open threes on ocassion."
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.