Slump hasn’t shaken NU coach Miles’ faith in point guard Watson
LINCOLN — It’s been a tough month for Nebraska point guard Glynn Watson.
The last time he shot 50 percent or better from the field was against Kansas on Dec. 16, going 5 of 10. In the 10 games since, the 6-foot junior from metro Chicago is 25 of 90 (27.7 percent).
Uglier yet has been Watson’s shooting in Big Ten play.
He was 1 of 9 in Monday night’s 64-59 loss at No. 13 Ohio State and was held to two points, matching the third-lowest output of his 86-game career. Since late in the first half of the Jan. 6 game at Purdue, he is 12 of 54 (22.2 percent) from the field.
On Wednesday night, Nebraska (14-8, 5-4) goes to Rutgers (12-9, 2-6), a difficult place to fix offensive woes because the Scarlet Knights will guard you from the time you get off the bus.
They rank ninth nationally in scoring defense (62.1 points) and 13th in field-goal defense (38.9 percent), gaining energy from noisy home crowds though rarely at capacity in the 8,000-seat Rutgers Athletic Complex.
“They are a very physical team, a good rebounding team and a good defensive team,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. “They play people really tough at home.”
So Nebraska will need contributions across the board, including the struggling Watson.
Miles said he’ll meet with the man who now has been a starter for two full seasons.
“I’m just going to take some time with Glynn, talk to him and keep reminding him how much I believe in him,” Miles said. “He’s a really good guard, and who he is is good enough. Keep doing what you do and being who you are.”
Watson has played a key role in a handful of Nebraska victories, including scoring 26 points against Long Beach State, 19 at Northwestern and 29 against then-No. 14 Minnesota.
But in his past 10 games, he has scored in double figures just three times while also posting totals of 2, 1, 3 and 2 points.
“Glynn is a great kid,” Miles said. “He was down on himself after the game. There were three or four guys pointing the finger at themselves. That’s what you love about these guys. They want accountability and responsibility.”
One Husker without much blame in the Ohio State loss was junior James Palmer.
The 6-foot-6 guard scored a career-high 34 points. His previous best was 25 this season against Texas-San Antonio.
The only Nebraska player ever to score more than 34 points in a true road game was Aleks Maric with 37 at Iowa State in 2006. Eric Piatkowski’s school-record 42 points in 1994 came in Kansas City at the Big Eight tournament against Oklahoma.
“James is a special player, and I’m glad he’s with us,” Miles said. “He’s one of those guys I think is getting a little better every time out.”
Nebraska’s hope tonight is that Rutgers’ offense remains as sluggish as it has been. The Scarlet Knights are 301st in scoring at 68.3 points a game and have no one among the Big Ten’s top 15 scorers.
Said Miles: “We need to stay up in the standings. We need to win that game.”