Whether it was a post-Thanksgiving malaise or a lingering hangover from a loss to Texas Tech three days earlier, Nebraska took the court out of sorts Saturday against visiting Western Illinois.
The Cornhuskers woke up quickly enough, though, to ramble past the Leathernecks 73-49 in Lincoln, Neb.
Glynn Watson and James Palmer scored 20 and 19 points, respectively, and played big roles when Nebraska closed the first half with a flurry and began the second with another run to subdue WIU.
The Leathernecks (2-4) came out firing to take a 9-4 lead in the opening minutes, which looked like an extension of the Huskers’ 70-52 loss to Texas Tech in the finals of the Holiday Classic in Kansas City, Mo.
Before things got too far away, the Huskers (5-1) found a comfort zone — especially on defense — to grab control.
After WIU’s Brandon Gilbeck scored at the 15:32 mark, Nebraska reeled off the next 13 points over 6:45. By the time Ben Pyle hit the Leathernecks’ next floor shot, they had gone 7:49 without a point.
Western Illinois pulled within 19-14, but Palmer lit a fuse for the Huskers, who closed the half on a 21-3 surge over the last 6 1/2 minutes.
With Palmer scoring eight points, Nebraska hit eight of its last 11 field goals of the half to wind up at 56.7 percent (17 of 30) on the way to a 40-17 lead.
In that same closing stretch, WIU missed seven of eight shots and turned the ball over seven times. The Leathernecks shot 24.1 percent (7 of 29) in the opening 20 minutes. They warmed up moderately in a second half when they nearly matched the Huskers point for point, and wound up at 30.6 percent (19 for 62).
Nebraska picked up where it left off after intermission with a 10-0 burst and never looked back.
C.J. Duff paced the Leathernecks with 13 points, hitting 5 of 12 field goals and three of WIU’s seven 3-pointers.
Watson’s nine rebounds helped the Huskers hold a 47-33 edge in that category.
—Field Level Media