Postgame Notes and Quotes
*-The Huskers are now 7-1 on the season after tonight's win, giving NU its best start since the 2003-04 campaign.
*-Nebraska has won 16 straight home games dating back to Dec. 20, 2017. It is the longest streak since a 16-game streak spanning the 1981-82 and 1982-83 seasons. Nebraska is 21-1 at home over the last two season.
*-Nebraska has won 10 straight Big Ten home games, its longest home conference win streak since a 12-stretch spanning the 1965-66 and 1966-67 seasons.
*-Glynn Watson Jr. moved into sole possession of 20th place on Nebraska’s scoring list, as he passed Brian Banks (1,150) and now has 1,158 career points.
*-James Palmer Jr. now has three 20-point games this season and 11 for his career with today’s 23-point effort.
*-NU made 25 of its 30 free throws tonight (83%), the second time this year the Huskers have shot 80% or better from the charity stripe (Nov, 26 at Clemson).
*-Nebraska started the game on a 15-5 run, bolstered by a perfect 4-of-4 shooting performance from the field and 6-of-6 shooting from the line.
*-Isaac Copeland Jr. shot over 50% from the field and scored in double figures for the seventh time in eight games. (16 points, 67% FG).
*-Glynn Watson Jr. had 14 points tonight, marking the seventh time in eight games this year he's scored in double figures.
*-Nebraska improves to 6-7 against Illinois under Tim Miles, winning five of its six home matchups against the Illini since they joined the Big Ten.
Nebraska Coach Tim Miles
On cleaning up turnovers
“Illinois does a terrific job defensively. In terms of creating turnovers, they are so good with the ball, they force you to play strong all night. If there is one thing, I didn’t think we did well was handle the ball well. I thought we had far too many turnovers. It was interesting after the game, James (Palmer Jr.) was going to be interviewed on TV, and I said, ‘You did a great job tonight, James.’ And he goes, ‘Yeah, too many turnovers, man I’ve got to clean that up.’ That’s what you want to hear. And he wouldn’t have to say that. He could say, ‘Remember I went to the foul line 14 times or whatever,’ but it is always good when you hear it.”
On staying on top
“It was really important. With (Illinois), to get on top of them, and then keep them there at an arm’s length, that has been hard for a lot of teams to do. Gonzaga hasn’t done it. Notre Dame didn’t do it. We were able to. I think getting to foul line for us was important. Then, the fact that we made some threes tonight helped too. If we can do both of those, then you’re a tough owl.”
On depending on defense, less on free throws
“You just always worry about being too dependent on free throws because quite frankly, you’re not in control. You can draw up a three-point field goal, you can throw it inside, but you don’t know if you’re going to get fouled or not. That’s not your decision, it’s the other guys. So, that’s why you don’t want to depend on it. We just try to depend on defense. Just get stops and hopefully our defense will create some offense and tonight it did just enough. I don’t think we made enough scoring plays in transition. I think that’s something we really have to clean up.”
Nebraska Players James Palmer Jr. and Isaac Copeland Jr.
On attacking the rim against an aggressive defense
James Palmer Jr.: “As a team, we definitely wanted to get to the free throw line. We know they extend their defense and pressure, so you just want to get to the basket.”
On the importance of taking an early lead
Isaac Copeland Jr.: “Coach always emphasizes playing with a lead. I think this four-game stretch we have had, when you play with a lead through all those games, they are all tough, good teams. So that’s what we wanted to do today.”
On how they got off to a good start
Isaac Copeland Jr.: “It’s kind of a blur right now, but I think we just played good defense. I mean 11 to 2 (in the first two minutes). We were able to get the ball in the basket ourselves, so that’s always a good recipe for success.”
On playing in a transitional offense
Isaac Copeland Jr.: “I think that’s when we’re at our best. James, he’s pretty much unstoppable in transition. You’ve got to foul him or he’s going to score. I think any time we can rebound and push it with us four, we’re pretty hard to stop.”
Illinois Head Coach Brad Underwood
"Give Nebraska credit. That's a veteran basketball team that jumped on us early. It was uphill from the get-go. You spend a couple of days preparing, and most of our talk was about not fouling. With James Palmer, we wanted him to shoot the ball. The one thing he does is he puts a lot of fouls on people. We've got to grow up in that area and become more disciplined.
Our turnovers were an issue as well. With three starting point guards, you would hope we wouldn't have as many turnovers as we did. That's something we gotta grow into. But Nebraska is top five in almost every defensive category. They make life very difficult. They challenged [junior guard] Aaron [Jordan] on everything. [Freshman guard] Ayo [Dosunmu] went 3-of-12. It was a tough night all-around."
On [sophomore guard] Trent Frazier only taking two first half shots
"Yeah, no doubt. He's an all-league player. He's a guy who has explosive moments. We're still in the identifying mode a little bit as a team, but he has to be option one or two, no doubt."
On [junior guard] Tyler Underwood being his only player that was positive in the plus/minus column
"He's smart. He knows the system in and out and he's been around a lot of winning. His positioning is very good, he's an IQ player and he's not afraid to stick his nose in there and make a play. He takes charges. He's a kid that does a lot of little things."
On [freshman forward] Alan Griffin having to limit his turnovers
"It's something we've been talking about a lot with him. He's going to be a heck of a player, I love that kid to death. He's an offensive weapon, he can shoot the cover off of it. But you can't turn it over, and you can't shoot it if you don't have it."
On playing on the road in the first Big Ten game of the year
"No disrespect to Notre Dame, but it's a little different when you play your first Big Ten game. Everybody knows one another a little better. This placed was a little more juiced and had a little more atmosphere than South Bend. I don't mean any disrespect in any way. I was a little curious to see how we were going to act on life on the road in the Big Ten. You have to have a toughness and an edge. You got a team with fifth-year senior and four-year starters, they had that poise, and we did not. That's something that we saw today."