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Nebraska vs. Minnesota Notes and Quotes

By NU Athletic Communications

Post-Game Notes 

*-Nebraska’s win over No. 14 Minnesota marked NU’s highest win over a ranked opponent since downing No. 11 Michigan State in East Lansing during the 2015-16 season. Prior to tonight, NU’s last home win vs. a ranked opponent was vs. No. 19 Purdue last season.
*-Glynn Watson Jr. finished with a season-high 29 points, topping his previous season high of 26 against Long Beach State. It marked his third 20-point game of the season and ninth of his career
*-Glynn Watson Jr. grabbed a season-high nine rebounds, topping his previous six boards on two occasions, most recently against Clemson on Nov. 20, 2016.
*-Nebraska held Minnesota to a season-low 68 points and a season-low 32.4 percent shooting. Nebraska held Minnesota to 31 first-half points, its lowest first-half total of the season.
*-Nebraska’s nine blocked shots matched the highest total of the Tim Miles era. NU had nine blocks vs. Eastern Illinois and North Texas earlier this season.  Nebraska has now recorded five or more blocks in eight of its first 10 games.
*-Duby Okeke finished with three blocked shots, the second time this season and 28th time in his career he has had three or more blocks in a game.

Nebraska Head Coach Tim Miles
On if he agrees that defense was the difference-maker in the game…
“Yeah, I think as we watch film, and you saw how hard Michigan State played and how really they outplayed us, and they have tons of talent, so you can’t win a game like that. So I think they were determined to not let that happen again. I thought we played really hard tonight, too. Kenya came to me on Monday late morning and said ‘Hey I think we should do this, and we’re going to double this guy this way and this other guy the other way,’ and I’m like ‘Oh boy.’ We’ve been trying to take away threes, but we said ‘Okay.’ I agreed, because you cannot let them get going inside or they’ll brutalize you. I thought our guys did a really, really good job. It was a little bit jumpy on Monday. They weren’t positive. Then we saw some more tape and saw tape today, walked through it again, and I think they felt a lot better about it. I just said ‘Here’s the deal. We’ll go at it aggressively, if it doesn’t work, we’ll pull one off and just go straight up, and the kids did a really nice job.”

On how he plans to have the team play this well again…
“We have no choice. I mean, Creighton hung 111 tonight, so we got to figure out how to defend that action, too.” 

On if playing aggressive defense created swagger that lasted the team the whole game…
“Well first of all, the crowd was amazing. I think that everybody in there dressed in the candy stripe was tremendous. They were so loud, there was such a great energy there. Pinnacle, I’ve never dreamt they could be like that when I was coaching all these places. I’ve been to some really cool places where it gets loud and obnoxious, but Pinnacle has really got a great vibe and the guys fed off that. There’s no doubt. That was the first time it’s been like that this season and I think that helped. I also think that they weren’t happy with the way they played against Michigan State. They want to prove that they’re better than that.”

On if he thinks the team can prove that this win was not a fluke and continue to find success…
“Yeah, I think it’s a great boost of confidence going into league play. The fact that, what, there’s seven or eight teams that are 1-1 now? And our next few games are on the road. I said ‘Listen guys, you never say must-win, but three of our first games are on the road against Purdue, Northwestern, Michigan State, Minnesota, we got to do this. If we’re going to fight for it for postseason, this has got to happen. And this is an older group of guys and they know what it takes. So I thought tonight’s effort was really gritty, it was tough-minded until the chaos at the end. I just said ‘You guys won’t let anything happen easy, I mean like, my God.’"

On the team’s mental toughness after a few tough calls…
“They were in a good place. I thought James had played pretty good defense on that play. I don’t know what happened and I’m not going to overreact to it either, because I thought that that’s unnecessary. But as you look at it, I think they were in a good place mentally. They felt confident they were going to win the game. Even though it tightened up there and we made some mistakes ball handling, we’ll clean that up. Ball handling is something that you can clean up.”

On if there has been a different mindset about defending home court this year…
“We just keep talking about it. I’ve said I can’t believe we don’t have a better home court advantage. We have too many great fans and such a great situation, it’s ridiculous that we are giving up all these home games. So tonight, I don’t know what our record is, but I know we haven’t lost. I know the next one we have here we expect to win, and that’s saying a lot. Especially against that kind of an opponent, but that’s the mentality and there’s no second thoughts.”

Junior Guard Glynn Watson Jr.
On the win...
"It felt great. We came in, quick turnaround, we just executed our stuff, played good defense, that's what we need to start doing and we got a good win."

On the switch in intensity after Michigan State...
"Yes, we just came out, tried to play defense really. I mean, we never know when our shot's not going to fall, so that's what we came out and did."

On if this is how the team can play on a regular basis...
"Yes, I feel like this is our team. When guys share the ball and get each other open, make it easier, and just playing defense, I mean that's got to be one of our main things also. So we keep doing that, there's not going to be too many teams that can beat us."

Junior Forward Isaac Copeland
On Glynn's performance this game (29 pts, 9 RB)...
"He was very good. I'm mad at him for not getting 30 points, and now you know he had nine rebounds, so I'm mad at him for not getting that last rebound too, so we'll work on it, but he had a good job, a good game, and we really (rolled wind/rolled the win?) tonight and he carried us."

Senior Center Duby Okeke
On his favorite defensive play...
"I think it was more important when Jordy [Tshimanga], he read the ball screen, he got in a stance and he tipped the ball. And for us, I don't know, coming into a new situation, defense is the main key, like what I've noticed, we have all the capabilities but we just need everybody locked in, and that's just like a mental thing, because we have the talent, this is probably the most talented team I've ever been a part of, so it's just coming ready to play, coming ready to be in a stance, and just the energy kind of travels, so guys coming ready to play, and we'll be fine."

Minnesota Head Coach Richard Pitino
Opening Statement
“Okay, the credit to Nebraska, they’re a good team. I think they will continue to get better as they get continuity with their transfers but I really like their team. They just played better than we did. When we needed to get stops, we didn’t, offensively obviously we didn’t have it going, and then if you don’t have it going offensively, you have got to get stops and get out on the break and we did not do that. So credit to them, it was a tough environment to play in, so we got to learn from it, and then we got to go play another tough one on Saturday. So we have got to have a short memory and then we got to get back to work.”

On if he noticed low energy from his team to start the game…
“I didn’t notice it to be honest, I think they were pretty focused.”

On Murphy’s early-foul trouble taking Minnesota out of their offense…
“Yeah I mean they did a really good job with our bigs and our bigs have been really good, obviously with the first nine games. So they game-planned well there, and we didn’t handle it great. So again, the offense we can get better at, but we can control that defense and that’s a problem.”

On Davonte Fitzgerald…
“It’s hard, you know, Davonte [Fitzgerald] to his defense, hasn’t played in two years, and when you play in these Big Ten games early, it’s hard, it’s hard to get guys acclimated. So he’ll be fine, it’s just continuing to get reps in there, and feeling comfortable out there, but it’s been two years and he hasn’t played.”

On defense tonight…
“Just wasn’t great all around. It was a little bit of everything. You know, we just didn’t do a good job there so we have got to get back to it.”

On not making open shots tonight…
“I don’t know you know, you know they’re a good defensive team, and we’ve been really good at going inside, you know we’ve really been hurting teams, and they game-planned to really take that away and we didn’t burn them on it, only a couple times. So maybe some was some missed shots, but we just have to do a better job of executing so it’s on me, and I’ll get back to work on it and we will be off tomorrow and we will see if we can be a little more in sync on Thursday and Friday.”

On playing Big Ten games early in the season…
“Well I loved it after Rutgers and I hated it tonight. So you know when you win you love it, when you lose you hate it. But everybody has got to do it, I don’t think any coaches like it, just because tough games early right now, nobody is really good right now. You know we’re all going to get better. So the goal is to get better in January and February. But unfortunately for us we have got a tough schedule, we have got to go at Arkansas, whose a good team and another tough place to play. You know we’ve got to learn from this and give Nebraska credit, I think they’re a good team.”

On watching film on Nebraska…
“You know they played two true road games, not a lot of people play great at Michigan State so I threw that one out the window, and then I thought at St. John’s they weren’t really in sync, but you know you go down to those old tournaments, those three-game deals, sometimes they are just tough. So I think that they are a much-improved team, a talented team, it’s always tough to win here, and once those transfers figure it out--and they’ve got a terrific one in Glynn Watson Jr. – I like their team. I think they are going to be difficult to play.


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