Palmer's Clutch Free Throws Lift NU to 62-61 Win
Lincoln – James Palmer Jr. knocked down a pair of free throws with 1.1 seconds remaining to lift the Nebraska men’s basketball team to a 62-61 win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers Wednesday night at Pinnacle Bank Arena
In a game that featured nine ties and 12 lead changes, Nebraska led for much of the second half before Minnesota used a 6-0 run to take a 61-59 lead with less than a minute to play. The Gophers led by one with under 30 seconds on the clock when Isaiah Roby made the defensive play of the game, drawing a charge from Minnesota’s Jordan Murphy to give the ball back to Nebraska with 18 seconds remaining. On Nebraska’s first chance to win the game, Thomas Allen had his shot blocked out of bounds. On the ensuing inbound, Palmer caught the ball on the baseline, pumped fake, and drew a foul on Amir Coffey to set up his game-winning free throws.
Palmer, who scored 10 of his game-high 24 points in the second half, was 8-of-10 at the line on the night, including 3-of-4 in the final minute. In addition to Palmer’s big night, Glynn Watson Jr. erupted for 19 points, just one shy of his season high. While Palmer and Watson combined for 43 of the Huskers’ 62 points, Allen added seven points and a career-high nine rebounds in his return to the starting lineup, while Roby had six points, four rebounds, three assists and a pair of blocks.
The win snapped a seven-game losing streak for Nebraska, improved to 14-11 on the season and moved to 4-10 in Big Ten Conference play. Nebraska shot 50 percent from the field, its first time hitting more than 40 percent of its shot in six games. Minnesota (16-9, 6-8 Big Ten) got a double-double from Murphy with 19 points and 13 rebounds, while Daniel Oturu added 16 points and Amir Coffey – who had a career-high 32 points in the first meeting with Nebraska – chipped in 11 points.
Nebraska shot 52 percent in the first half, but still trailed by one, 31-30, heading into the locker room. Palmer started off the game for the Huskers with a driving layup for the game’s first points, but his bucket was followed by a 5:14 scoring slump. During the scoreless stretch, Minnesota scored 10 straight points during a 15-2 run that gave the Gophers a 11-point lead seven minutes into the game.
Minnesota maintained its 11-point lead midway through the period, but Nebraska cut the lead to seven before Palmer used a personal 8-0 run to give the Huskers a 22-21 lead with 6:34 left in the half. The teams traded baskets the rest of the half, with Dupree McBrayer hitting a 3-pointer with 40 seconds to play in the half to give Minnesota the halftime advantage. as Minnesota tacked on ten straight points to go up 10-2 heading into the under 16-minute media timeout.
The Huskers then came out red hot to begin the second half as Allen took the lead right back for the Huskers with a 3-pointer from the top of the key just 14 seconds into the period. Behind consecutive 3-pointers from Watson and Palmer, Nebraska scored nine of the first 10 points of the second half to build a seven-point advantage, its largest lead of the game.
The Gophers answered with nine straight points to take a 44-41 lead with 14 minutes remaining. But Nebraska bounced back, holding Minnesota without a field goal for more than four minutes, which allowed the Huskers to open up a 51-48 lead with 8:12 to play.
Minnesota fought back to tie the game at 53, but Nebraska built the lead back to four at 59-55 with 3:43 left. The Huskers did not make a basket over the final 4:06, which allowed Minnesota to regain its late lead. Five of Nebraska’s seven points in the final five minutes came at the free-throw line, with Palmer accounting for all five free throws, including the game-winner.