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Nebraska vs. Eastern Illinois Postgame Notes & Quotes

By NU Athletic Communications

Notes: 
*-Isaiah Roby blocked six shots, the most by a Husker since Wes Wilkinson, who had six blocked shots at Creighton on Dec. 11, 2005

*-Glynn Watson Jr. finished with a game-high 21 points, his eighth career game with at least 20 points.  

*-Roby collected his first career double double, setting highs in both points (11) and rebounds (13). It was the first double-double of his career and the first by a Husker since Tai Webster had one at Michigan State last season.

*-Nebraska has now won 17 straight season openers and improves to 83-39 all-time in openers.

*-Jordy Tshimanga grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds, topping his previous best of 10 set against Wisconsin on Feb. 9, 2017. That was also the last game two Huskers had at least 10 rebounds in a game.

Nebraska Coach Tim Miles
Opening Statement
“So I think we start with the proverbial ‘phew’, type of thing. We knew they (Eastern Illinois) were a tough team. You don’t beat Illinois by accident in the preseason. With those two veteran guards, the physicality, they kind of mismatch you but they play physical. I like his group, and I think [Head Coach Jay] Spoonhour and his staff do an excellent job and I think they will do well in the [Ohio Valley Conference]. I’m glad we found a way to win despite some mistakes. We made some mistakes tonight. We didn’t shoot foul shots well. We got a little selfish with the ball. When we got in the bonus early each half, I thought we over-penetrated, over-drove, and weren’t good at the rim. I didn’t think we made good decisions at the rim, playing off of two feet, pivoting, getting fouled, and then I thought we were better the second half. But then it was game-on so it doesn’t matter. We had to be better. It was a good win. I’m never going to apologize for a win. But I think you also have to commend Eastern Illinois for being a really tough, competitive, tough-minded team that plays with poise and physicality.”

On how the team reacted under pressure
“I thought we were offensive sensitive for a while. I thought we were worried about the wrong things, like if we missed a shot or if we got fouled, and then we tried to do a little too much. But at the end I thought we settled down and played some good basketball. We still didn’t make our foul shots which would have really helped, but like I told our guys, ‘Hey, we missed 16 foul shots and shoot 38 percent and win? That’s not going to happen often and it better not.' But at the same time, what we need to do is go out and find a way to be better on Monday and then a little better than that when we play St. John’s.”

On Isaiah Roby’s health and career-best performance
“Yes. I told him at the end of the first half, ‘Robes, baby, you saved our bacon!’ I think we had two rebounds as a team before he got in the game. He and Jordy (Tshimanga) really got in on the boards but we've got to get some of those other guys in on the boards too. They hear me say it but they don’t quite get it yet, so we still have some teaching to do.”

On Thomas Allen making big shots
“I believe in Thomas to the end of time. He had one in the first half that was good, he just missed his shots inside. I remember taking him out late and he kind of had this he-didn’t-want-to-come-out look, and I just love that, I mean Tom’s got great poise, he’s not afraid of the moment. I think we could see that tonight."

On Roby’s stat line
“Yeah, Isaiah, 11 points, 13 rebounds, six blocks, that’s Isaiah Roby. I know he can score more. He just kind of scores at the opportunities that come. I don’t think we ran one play for him tonight and he will get better and better at that part of the game, there’s no doubt. He hit a big three, he’s shooting the three better this year, so that was needed. We didn’t get much out of our bench outside of Roby and Thomas, I thought we had subpar…you know, some other of those guys were subpar. But you know the great thing about basketball is they just keep coming at you, you blink and you miss one, so we’ll need to be ready Monday night. “

On the combination of players Miles might play this season
“What I like about our team is our versatility. We were able to play small tonight and not play our bigs a lot of minutes, we’re going to need our bigs a lot this year. Just tonight, it wasn’t the right match-up.”

On Roby’s ability to be consistent this season
“Whatever he had for breakfast he’s going to have again. I think he’s better [this year] because he is physically better. We also have to remember last year he was coming off injury and then when he started playing well he got injured again, with an ankle sprain and missed a game or two. But that’s what you hope out of sophomores is that consistency will go on. I didn’t think Glynn [Watson Jr.] had a great night tonight, at least I don’t think Glynn thinks he had a great night tonight, and you look at the stat line and you know the kid has 21 points and three assists. I think that we will get better out of him too, I think all of those guys, Jack [McVeigh] didn’t have his best tonight, but Roby is a guy that we definitely need and he can really fill up a stat sheet no doubt.”

On Glynn Watson Jr.’s stability
“At the foul line he was, wasn’t he? He was the only guy up there where I was going ‘okay, he will make both of these.’ Not that the other guys can’t, it’s just you could see they were excited, and their body language was hyped up, and that’s good. It was kind of a chippy game too, which I thought was good. I like that. I like the fact that we will look somebody in the eye because that group we were playing against, if you don’t look them square in the eye, they’ll beat you. You can’t be a soft team against them.”

 

Eastern Illinois Head Coach Jay Spoonhour
Opening Statement
"It's hard to get the ball underneath in a college game. We talk about it all the time. It's hard to get it in there, and when you get it in there, you've got to finish it. I'm going to tell you, it's easy for me to stand there and say it, make the - because they're big old guys, and they end up blocking nine shots and they're just, when they're big and heavy and they can move you, and it's not quite as easy as, hey, make your layups. The thing I'm happy about is we got the ball where we needed to get it, for the most part. We had a couple crazy possessions here and there, but for the most part, we got it, we were smart about where we threw it and what we did. Individual guys have got to clean their games up a little bit on some different things, but I'm happy with how we battled them. It was looking bad there for a while, and guys made some shots and they threw a couple different things. I mean, there's no way you're going to prepare for half that stuff that they do, 6-11 and 6-9, and we did a nice job. They tipped balls in the first half because we were just standing flat-footed trying to throw it over. Of all the things you could do, that's probably the worst idea, to try to throw it over a guy who's half a foot taller than you. Nonetheless, we did and it didn't work, so we fixed that, we didn't do it in the second half as much so that's good."
 
On missed shots that lost the lead for EIU
"When you go on the road, you've got to make those against a good team, because it's just really hard to get opportunities. Because you talk about good coaches now, I mean, there's some good coaches over there, and they're a really, really tough defensive team to play against because it's just hard to make passes because they're just very big. So, no, I was happy with it. I thought both team played really hard for a first game with a big crowd, the crowd was good, and I thought it was a fun game."
 
 
Senior guard Evan Taylor
On the win
"Yeah, definitely, especially the first game. Give a lot of credit to them though. That's a really good and experienced team. I'm proud of our team because we found a way to win. It wasn't easy, and we knew we were going to have to grind, but we found a way to win."
 
On Nebraska's energy
"I think we came out with a lot of energy. Some first-game jitters, for me personally, too, but they're an experienced team, a really good team. They wanted to score and didn’t lay down. Once we understood that we were going to have to grind and keep going and keep us staying positive the whole game. We could always get better with urgency, but it's a good start."
 
Junior guard Glynn Watson Jr. 
On last couple minutes
"I was just trying to get fouled to be honest. They were in the bonus. They told us to attack. My shot wasn't falling tonight, so I was just trying to get to the rim and draw fouls, and try to make my free throws."
Sophomore forward Isaiah Roby
On his first career double-double
"In college yeah. That's what Coach Miles recruited me to do. That's what I did in high school, so it's good to see it translate to college. That's my first game like that so far, so hopefully I can keep on doing it."
 
On shooting confidence
"Yeah, I lost a lot of sleep shooting three's over the summer and over the fall, so I'm confident in shooting. I got the reps in so I'm definitely confident."

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