Palmer helps Huskers break out of first-half funk in exhibition
LINCOLN — Nebraska found reasons to continue practicing, at least in the near future, during Tuesday night’s 80-62 exhibition victory over Division II Northwood University.
Junior guard James Palmer might get an occasional break after pouring in 27 points in 32 minutes. The 6-foot-6 transfer from Miami (Florida) hit 9 of 14 shots, including 2 of 4 3-pointers, along with 7 of 8 free throws.
“He can score, no doubt,” Husker coach Tim Miles said. “And he can score at a lot of levels. He can make 3s and he can get to the rim.”
Freshman guard Thomas Allen, starting in place of hobbled point guard Glynn Watson (bursa sac, knee), also might get an extra blow after adding 18 points on 5-of-7 shooting, plus 6 of 6 free throws.
“Thomas isn’t really a true point, but he’s trying,” Miles said. “What he does is score.”
The other 10 who played, however, need shooting practice. While Palmer and Allen were 14 of 21 (66.7 percent), the rest were 14 of 37 (37.8 percent) overall and 1 of 10 on 3s.
And everyone will get a turn in rebound drills ahead of Saturday’s regular-season opener against Eastern Illinois.
Northwood outboarded NU 50-40, including 24 offensive rebounds that led to a stunning 31-4 advantage in second-chance points. Those extended possessions led to a 20-5 run that gave the Timberwolves a six-point lead before NU went back up 35-33 at halftime.
“That’s something we can’t allow,” Miles said. “The first half, they just worked harder on offense than we worked on defense. You can’t play that way.
“You’ll find it out the hard way one way or the other, and it’s better to win and find it out.”
Nebraska forward Isaac Copeland, playing his first home game after transferring from Georgetown, said the team came out flat and got “crushed” on the boards.
“Coach chewed us out at halftime,” said Copeland, who had 12 points, four rebounds and three steals. “So we came out with more energy.”
Miles smiled upon learning Copeland referred to the halftime speech as a chewing-out. “He’s a first-timer on that,” the coach said. “There are varying degrees. That would have been a simmer.”
But Miles got the Huskers’ attention.
Even playing without Watson, forward Isaiah Roby (finger) and guard Anton Gill (groin), Nebraska shot 55.2 percent in the second half and held Northwood to 24.4 percent while stretching the lead to as many as 19 points.
Starting guard Evan Taylor also tweaked an ankle when he blew out his shoe with about nine minutes left, going to the bench for good.
“(Injuries) weren’t what we want,” Miles said. “At the same time, we have to learn how to play without guys. I felt we were fine until we subbed tonight. Then all heck broke loose.”
For Northwood coach Jeff Rekeweg, Tuesday night was a homecoming. He played on Danny Nee’s first two teams at Nebraska (1986-87, 1987-88) and was a co-captain the second season.
“Speaking as an alum, I’m excited about this team and what Coach Miles and his staff has gotten done,” he said. “Hopefully they can stay healthy. They certainly have the makings of a solid, good Big Ten team.”
Rekeweg said he was proud to see his team perform in two areas that are “non-negotiable” — effort and attitude. He also noted that Nebraska held out three regulars, and that his team banked in three 3-pointers in the first half.
“If we could have banked in three more 3s,” Rekeweg said with a wry smile, “we could have gotten it a whole lot closer.
“But to get back to these fans and the people here is awesome. It was a great experience for our players, and to play in the nicest facility in the country, I believe, and the best fans in the country.”