Nebraska cruises by Penn State on Senior Day, 76-64
Lincoln, Nebraska- 4 players scored in double figures for Nebraska as the Huskers down Penn State in a game they never trailed, 76-64. Isaac Copeland scored the first 7 points of the game for Big Red including the a one handed dunk that electrified the sold out crowd at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Copeland led all scorers with 17 points while Isaiah Roby added 13 while Glynn Watson Jr. and James Palmer Jr. both notched 11 points.
The victory secured the 4 seed in the Huskers who were awarded the coveted double bye in the Big Ten Tournament. The event begins on Wednesday in Madison Square Garden.
*-Today’s attendance of 15,991 was the second-highest in Pinnacle Bank Arena history, trailing only the 2013-14 regular-season finale against Wisconsin (March 9, 2014 - 15,998).
*-Nebraska used just its fourth starting lineup of the season, as seniors Duby Okeke and Evan Taylor joined James Palmer Jr., Anton Gill and Isaac Copeland in the Huskers’ starting lineup.
*-The Huskers picked up their 22nd win of the season, tying for second in school history. This season marks the fourth time a Nebraska team has won exactly 22 games in a season.
*-Nebraska also won its 13th conference game, the most conference wins in a season in school history.
*-Nebraska wraps up their regular season as winners of 10 out of the last 12 games.
*-Penn State's 17 first-half points were a season low for a Husker opponent this season. The previous low was 21 against Michigan on Jan. 18. The 17 points were also a season low for Penn State in the first half this season.
*-Nebraska went undefeated at home against conference opponents for the ninth time in school history, and the first time since 1965-66 season.
*-NU finished the regular season 16-1 at home, with one loss coming from a one-point setback against No. 13 Kansas
*-Isaac Copeland recorded 17 points and 12 rebounds to post his third double-double of the season.
*-Sunday was the fifth time that Jordy Tshimanga has scored at least eight points in the Big Ten game this year.
Nebraska Head Coach Tim Miles
“I am happy that our Senior Night turned out well for our seniors. It is an eclectic group of young guys that have been great to coach, have stuck with us through thick and thin. So, it is a very important night, a very historic night from what I am hearing. So, I am just really proud of these guys to have that, at least accomplished. Now certainly we have more goals and we want to go a lot farther. But I am just happy that this night they can enjoy that and put that in their back pockets.”
On the defense
“Jim Molinari had a great game planned. To hold them to 17 points (in the first half)...He and I had met a couple of times and I thought we had the right idea. The only time they got three’s was when I was jacking around going zone and doing some other stuff, just trying to get them off driving downhill. You knew that they have too much talent to hold down forever. Defensively we were locked in and if we could sustain an intensity throughout the course of the night, I really felt strongly that we could come out on top. Issac Copeland was phenomenal on both ends. He really really played well. But, I thought our defensive effort was really impressive.”
On the NCAA Tournament:
“It looks like an NCAA tournament to me. Our schedule hasn’t broke the way, we have had some bad luck with our conference schedule. But, we are willing and able to play anybody. You just have to understand that it is a Quadrant 1 win for Penn State and a Quadrant 3 win for us. Also, that is a sorting mechanism. I don’t think Quadrant 1 is the holy grail of all things. We have done a good job winning away from home. We have outperformed, really the predicted metrics are what is killing us, the result metrics aren’t too bad- that’s strength of record, RPI, KPI. They aren’t too bad, they line up well with the NCAA tournament. So, that is what I would tell them, pay attention to results not the computer predicting how we are going to do.”
On the rest of the season:
“We want to go win the Big Ten tournament. That is the goal, to go cut the nets down. Thats just where it begins and ends. As far as the NCAA tournament resume, I don’t think I am even going to talk about that with the guys. I think I am going to talk with a single-minded goal. Let’s go there and try to win that tournament, Big Ten champions. It is three games, as close as we have been in a long time, since 2014, to being in that spot and we will see who the matchup is. It could be Michigan, it could be someone else. Michigan is playing great, a good opportunity for a win but at the same time we want to go there and be Big Ten champions.”
Nebraska Senior Guard Anton Gill
On what Senior Day meant:
"It meant a lot, I didn't really think it would hit me, but it kind of hit me at the end knowing I wouldn't be back here. But, I'm just glad we finished it. I'm glad we got that (double) bye. We did everything and put ourselves in a good position."
On if Nebraska should make the NCAA tournament:
"Personally I think so, but we're not going down to New York just to play around. We want to win that, too. We feel like we have the best team in the Big Ten. More wins would obviously help, but if you ask me my opinion we'e proven throughout the year that we're a tournament team."
On if the game plan changed because of the injury to Mike Watkins:
"Not really, he's really, really good. Other than we probably would've doubled him or something like that, but they have other guys that can really play, so we thought if anything him being out that guys like Tony Carr and [Lamar Stevens] would get more opportunities, so it didn't really change what we were doing. Even if we defended him, we had a good chance."
Nebraska Junior Forward Isaac Copeland
On the first play of the game:
"Just do what I can to set the tone. They kind of got a good lead on us (in the previous meeting), I was kind of upset about that last game so I just wanted to bring some energy and make some moves."
On the defense:
"Back to the last game they got a lot of open looks and we just came out really soft the last game, so we changed our approach and it worked out for us."
Senior Guard Evan Taylor
On what it meant to win a crucial game on senior night:
"It was crazy. My teammates kept saying I would be the one out of the seniors that would cry. I was like “nahh,” but then it hit me when I was standing in the tunnel before the game and I was a little emotional. It’s been a journey. God always puts us where we are supposed to be at the perfect time. My two years at Nebraska came at the perfect time. I wish it could have been four years here, but I am glad that the whole community accepted me and we were able to finish strong."
On his team’s defense in the first half:
"Yeah, I mean you know how I play [defense]. We were locked in during that first half."
On Jordy Tshimanga providing a spark off the bench:
"He’s been working. Before practice he gets work in every day, people don’t know that, but he puts in a lot of hard work. He goes to that right shoulder, left-handed hook shot. He did miss a dunk though today, I didn’t know he was going to miss a dunk. He made up for it, that’s all that matters. I guess he was too open.
On balancing the emotions of Senior Day and staying focused on the game:
"It was a lot because my family was here and it was the last time I am going to play at home in Nebraska. But I try not to get caught up in the emotions of it, this was a really important game for us that could have dictated a lot. I just try to stay focused on what’s important and doing my job."
On if they have done enough to make the NCAA Tournament:
"I think we should be in. I feel like we’re a team that’s playing well right now. If we get in the tournament, we can beat some teams. We deserve it, this team has been through everything, we have persevered and we have stuck together through the good and the bad. I would hate to see our season end and us not be in the NCAA Tournament because I feel like we are an NCAA Tournament team."
Sophomore Center Jordy Tshimanga
On sending the seniors out with a victory:
"It was great, it was something we talked about all season long, and sending them out the right way. I think it means the world."
On what he would tell the chairman of the NCAA Tournament selection committee:
"Let us in!"
On having extra motivation to avenge their loss to Penn State in January:
"It was a game just like all the others and we treated it the same way. We took the same approach and we came through for the seniors."
Penn State Head Coach Patrick Chambers
“Really proud of my team the way they fought the second half there. Obviously they jumped us. Senior night, a lot of emotions, a lot riding on this game. Give Tim [Miles] and Nebraska credit, they’ve been playing really good basketball over the last month and they came out and punched us in the mouth. With saying that, my young guys learned tonight. We’re going to learn from this experience. We’re going to learn from Michigan, we’re going to learn from today about that level of fight to start the game. We didn’t start off Michigan well either. Again, we had a little adversity there in the first few minutes there with Mike [Watkins] going down, but I was hoping we’d come out and fight a little bit harder. What a great environment in here, just incredible. We’ll learn from this experience, and we’ll get better. We did a lot of good things. I don’t want to diminish what this team has done to put itself in position to be an NCAA tournament team, to get to 19 wins, to get to 9 and 9 when we only won 15 and 6 last year. So we’ve done a lot of good things this year. Again, we’re going to learn from the first half, we’re going to get better from it.”
On Nebraska’s versatility
“With [Isaiah Roby], you really have to respect his three-point shooting, even though he didn’t shoot any threes tonight. They really spread you out, and James Palmer’s having a heck of a year, but [Isaac] Copeland really shot lights out in that first half. And [Glynn] Watson’s steady, Watson’s really steady, and then you throw out [Anton] Gill, who if you help off Gill he’s going to make you pay because of his three-point shooting. So really good team, they defend you, they guard you, they’re physical, they’re tough, and obviously they can score the basketball.”
On the difference Jordy Tshimanga makes:
“Obviously Jordy played twelve minutes, he was 4 for 6, he did some good things tonight.”
Notes and Quotes courtesy of Nebraska Athletics Communications