(Photo by Kenny Larabee)
Shield your eyes, Husker fans. This one was ugly. The Huskers could not finish off the Scarlet Knights in Piscataway, falling to Rutgers 76 to 69.
The body language said it all. Lots of slumped shoulders and eyes cast down at the floor from Nebraska’s players, who’ve just lost a gimme of a game.
The first half was defined by turnovers and scoring runs. Both teams combined to commit 22 turnovers in the first. The Scarlet Knights prevented the Huskers from scoring a single point from the floor for the first three minutes of the game. However, Nebraska was eventually able to find their stride offensively, at least for a while. The Huskers took a 10 to 4 lead into the first media timeout, but they weren’t able to enjoy it for long.
Rutgers guard Peter Kiss knocked down three free throws shortly after the break. Geo Baker then drained a three, capitalizing off an Isaiah Roby turnover, allowing Rutgers to snatch the 12 to 10 lead.
Before long though, Nebraska found themselves with a 31 to 18 point lead, after Glynn Watson nailed a three, curling off of a screen. Despite that comfortable margin, the Husker lead was completely erased by the Scarlet Knights, who mustered up yet another scoring run, who went on to score 13 straight points.
James Palmer Jr.’s heave at the halftime buzzer from well into three point territory allowed Nebraska to save face, taking a five point lead into the locker room.
In the second though, it was largely the same story. Nebraska had multiple empty possessions and turnovers. Also, they got themselves into foul trouble and were out hustled on the glass.
Palmer hit a three pointer after Roby flipped a pass over to him from a loose ball scramble which brought the Scarlet Knight lead down to two points. Baker missed a jumper on the ensuing possession, giving Nebraska a chance to tie the game which Palmer promptly did, hitting both free throws after he was fouled on a dunk attempt.
Tied at 67-67, Rutgers then seized control, slowly grinding out a victory after Nebraska whiffed on multiple chances to secure a rebound after missed shots. The Scarlet Knights were able to take care of business at the free throw line and seal the win.
Nebraska was outrebounded 44 to 34 on the night. The Huskers also racked up 12 turnovers and 24 personal fouls. Every player who checked in committed at least one foul. Copeland and Roby had 4 apiece. Palmer had 5.
After the game, head coach Tim Miles expressed his frustrations with his team’s effort. “I want to see us play harder. I want to see us play sharper. I want to see us more focused on the little things,” Miles said.
Copeland finished with 16 points. Palmer scored 22, his 10th 20-point game of the season. Watson had 14. The Huskers shot 41.7% from the floor and were 9-22 (40.9%) from three point range.
With the loss, Nebraska is now 13-6 on the season and 3-5 in Big 10 play. Next, they’ll take on Ohio State this Saturday at 11 o’ clock.