By Brian Rosenthal / Huskers.com
One of the few bright spots from Nebraska’s gut-wrenching 70-69 overtime loss to No. 7 Wisconsin on Thursday night came after the game, when Ed Morrow gave a favorable health report.
The Husker sophomore forward, who’d missed the last seven games with a stress reaction in his foot, had just contributed 13 rebounds and five points over 26 minutes. In postgame interviews, Morrow said he felt better than he’d expected after his first game since Jan. 8.
“I’ll be playing Tuesday, too,” Morrow said, already eager for Nebraska’s next game, at home against Penn State.
Morrow had been averaging 10.1 points and 7.9 rebounds through Nebraska’s first 16 games. He’d begun experiencing pain in his right foot around Christmas time.
“I played with it the first three games of conference,” Morrow said. “Coming into the Northwestern game (in Lincoln on Jan. 8), that’s sort of when I felt my worst, and I just decided to sit out.
“We’re in college now. We do a lot of repetitions and stuff like that. Over time, you get injuries. We’ve been going at it since the summer time. It just sort of hit me. I’m just thankful to come back so soon.”
The foot pain was a red flag for Morrow, who missed four games with the same injury as a freshman.
“It was exactly the same thing, just a different bone,” Morrow said. “It never broke or anything. It was just a little irritated. Our biggest thing was just trying to find some insoles and shoes that sort of fit me and sort of helped my body, the way my body functioned.”
Since then, Morrow has been OK with merely conditioning while not experiencing too much pain.
“I was a little anxious to come back around the Purdue game (on Jan. 29), but my body was just telling me no,” he said. “It was about two weeks ago, and I wasn’t feeling the way I usually would. I just wasn’t ready.”
Morrow had been involved in two practices before the Wisconsin game and felt good enough, while not 100 percent pain-free, to return to action.
“This is my fifth week. I was supposed to wait six,” he said. “I just felt pretty good with all the stuff they’ve been having me do, and with all the technology we have.”
A Pinnacle Bank Arena crowd of 14,568 gave Morrow a loud, warm ovation when he entered the lineup, along with Jack McVeigh, as Nebraska’s first substitutions of the night. Morrow immediately contributed with an inside screen that freed Tai Webster for an easy layup.
Nebraska, which trailed early by 10 points, put together a 9-2 run to cut the Wisconsin lead to 23-20. During that run, Morrow had a beautiful, one-handed grab and reverse layup, all in one motion, for a spectacular play that drew another loud roar from the Husker faithful.
“I thought Ed was a warrior tonight. I thought he gave us all he could,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. “I thought he did a good job with his effort, coming up with the ball, played strong defense. Just got to get him up to game speed, and that takes a few games.”
Morrow was also 1-of-5 at the free-throw line, with two misses in overtime.
“I felt I could’ve been more productive,” Morrow said. “I was a little timid coming into the game, my first game coming back. Some plays that I made I wish I could take back, but at the end of the day you’ve got to live through them and keep playing.”
Morrow wasn’t the only Husker who played under a watchful eye from the Nebraska athletic trainers. Sophomore guard Glynn Watson (hip flexor) had been slowed each of Nebraska’s previous two games but logged 38 minutes against Wisconsin. He scored 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting, with three assists.
“He felt OK. He wasn’t trying to do anything he couldn’t do,” Miles said of Watson, who returned to the starting lineup after coming off the bench Sunday at Iowa. “But you could see he couldn’t get much separation. He practiced yesterday and felt better today than he felt yesterday, which sometimes exercise can help that. I just hope we don’t go too far backwards here after logging those minutes tonight.”
Nebraska (10-14, 4-8 Big Ten Conference) suffered its third one-point loss in conference play. The Huskers nearly upset a fourth ranked team this season despite committing 22 turnovers, going 15-of-24 on free throws and converting a mere seven points off 20 offensive rebounds.
“I thought it was a gritty effort by our team,” Miles said. “I never questioned their resolve and their heart. It just seems like we just do enough to lose.”
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