Big run sends Nebraska past Western Illinois 73-49
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Glynn Watson Jr. had 20 points to lead Nebraska past Western Illinois 73-49 Saturday. But, after the game, the senior guard wanted to talk about rebounding.
Watson led Nebraska with nine rebounds, matching his career high — and coming up one carom short of a double-double.
“Coach had talked to us about rebounding,” Watson said. “I just tried to come out and play defense and rebound... I’m just cleaning up. Them guys box out, I’m the guy who comes and cleans up. They told me I needed one more. They hit a couple shots at the end, I guess it wasn’t for me today.”
Nebraska (5-1) was sluggish at the start, trailing Western Illinois 9-4 in the early going. The Huskers then slapped on the defense, holding the Leathernecks (2-4) to just five points in the next 15 minutes.
The Huskers led 17-11 when James Palmer Jr. heated up, hitting three layups, a jumper in the lane and a pair of free throws, putting Nebraska up 27-14 with 4:35 left in the half. Nebraska led by 23 at intermission.
Nebraska hit 57 percent of its shots in the first half while holding Western Illinois to 24 percent.
Nebraska opened the second half with 10-0 run, going up 50-17 on Watson’s 3-pointer with 17:41 remaining.
That lead was built off of the Huskers’ defense, which Nebraska coach Tim Miles praised, at least for the game’s first 23 minutes.
“I thought it was good for awhile, then I thought it fell off,” Miles said. “You don’t build a 33-point lead on anybody unless you’re locking them up. At the time we’d held them to just a couple 3-pointers. We’d rebounded pretty well... I thought we did a lot of things right for a long time. We didn’t finish the job. I’m not happy about that.”
Nebraska scored just 23 points after it took the big lead, in part because the Huskers were firing up and missing quick 3-pointers against Western Illinois’ zone defense. That let the Leathernecks get out in transition and cut the Husker lead to less than 20 a few times in the half.
“In the first half we were not ourselves,” said Western Illinois coach Billy Wright. “I think that had a lot to do with them (Nebraska)... but you look at some things that we didn’t do so well the first half, we were able to correct in the second half and it was 33-32 in the second half. We were still very competitive for most of the second half we just got down too many points from the start.”
Nebraska: After scoring more than 80 points in their first four games, the Huskers had just 52 points in a Tuesday loss to Texas Tech. Nebraska got its scoring back on track Saturday, scoring 40 in the first half. Nebraska is now averaging 80 points per game.
Western Illinois: Leatherneck 7-foot-senior center Brandon Gilbeck came into Saturday’s game leading the nation in blocked shots per game at 5.5 and second in total blocks at 21 Gilbeck was foul-plagued Saturday, playing just 14 minutes before fouling out. He still got three blocks against the Huskers.
Nebraska: The Cornhuskers travel to Clemson to play the Tigers in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Monday.
Western Illinois: The Leathernecks host Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Wednesday