Nebraska was able to make enough plays down the stretch to pull away from the sharp-shooting Roadrunners of Texas-San Antonio, winning 104-94 on Wednesday. Both teams put on impressive offensive showings, with Nebraska scoring more than 100 points for the first time since 2005.
In a tie game with 4:23 left in the game, Nebraska went on a 9-0 run to take control and fend off a feisty Texas-San Antonio squad. Junior guard James Palmer Jr. led the Cornhuskers with 25 points, while freshman guard Jhivvan Jackson dropped 26 to lead the Roadrunners in scoring. A big reason this game was so close was because of the Roadrunners ability to hit shots from outside, with Jackson personally making five.
With the win, Nebraska improves to 8-5 on the season and will return to the floor on Friday to take on Delaware State in its second-to-last non-conference game. Before moving on to that matchup against the Hornets, let’s take a look back at some takeaways from Wednesday night.
What We Learned
1) Nebraska Showing It Can Bounce Back
There are a number of qualities that a team must have to be successful, and one of those is being able to move on from tough losses next time out.
This was the case on Wednesday night when the Cornhuskers were able to bounce back from a heartbreaking one-point loss against No. 13 Kansas on Saturday. Nebraska was able to build an early lead that turned into a seven-point advantage at halftime, proving there was no hangover from that gut wrenching near upset over the weekend.
This wasn’t the first time Nebraska has bounced back from losses with wins next time out. Actually, that’s the norm with their only losing streak coming against Creighton and Kansas recently, and the fact they played so well against Kansas further proves the point that they move on from losses. Another good example was bouncing back from a 29-point loss against Michigan State to knock off then-No. 14 Minnesota two days later.
Nebraska is going to take some lumps this year. That’s a fact. But it is a good sign that so far they have proven they won’t let their losses linger.
2) Must Defend Three-Point Line Better
This game was closer than it probably should have been mainly because of the Roadrunners incredible shooting from outside. Texas-San Antonio hit 15 shots from outside, finishing the evening shooting 48.4 percent. Both of those were season-highs for Nebraska opponents.
It should be known that the Roadrunners shoot the deep ball a ton, ranking 15th nationally in three-point attempts entering tonight. Texas-San Antonio also did hit some very difficult three-point attempts. So those two aspects partially led to so many made three-point attempts, but poor closeouts and overall defense on the deep shot was a key factor in tonight’s game. It’s also alarming we saw that weak three-point defense with Nebraska knowing that’s the Roadrunners’ bread and butter.
Overall, Nebraska has been pretty good at defending the three-point shot this year — Nebraska ranks 64th out of 351 teams in all of college basketball in opponent three-point percentage. So tonight was more of an outlier than the norm, but Nebraska can’t let this become a trend. They simply aren’t good enough to give up that many three-point makes and still beat solid teams.
3) Gill Is Extra Weapon Off Bench
When senior guard Anton Gill is hitting shots, he can be a true weapon off the Cornhuskers bench. A good example of that was Wednesday night.
He started off the game hot from outside, and finished the opening frame with a team-high 13 points. He ended up finishing the night 6-for-11 from the field — including a 4-for-8 performance from outside the arc — with 21 points and four rebounds.
It was the fourth time this year he reached double-digits in points, and it’s no coincidence Nebraska is 4-0 in those games. Keep in mind that those were also games against weaker competition, but it is a sign that when he is able to produce off the bench Nebraska is a much better team.
It’s a win Nebraska was supposed to get, and that’s exactly what they did. It’s not a game that should be hailed as anything more than that, but there was certainly some good things we saw on Wednesday. The Cornhuskers proved yet again that they are able to bounce back from tough losses, and have developed a key threat off the bench in Gill. There’s still room for improvement all around, but Nebraska fans should be pleased with this victory.