After slow start, Nebraska goes on 24-2 run, sprints to 87-35 win over Southeastern Louisiana

LINCOLN — In the first four minutes, it seemed like Nebraska wasn’t that interested in playing a Sunday afternoon game against a Southland Conference team.

The Huskers trailed 7-6 after missing three straight 3-pointers.

Tim Miles called a timeout.

“Coach Miles kinda got into us,” Isaiah Roby said. “They were playing harder than us.”

The coach, red-faced, sent his team back out and deployed a ¾-court press. Consecutive turnovers in the backcourt turned into a James Palmer dunk and a Thomas Allen 3-pointer. That sparked a 24-2 run, which became a 46-4 run, which led to Nebraska’s 87-35 win over Southeastern Louisiana. Nebraska has won its two games this season by 50 or more points — by 121 combined — and held each opponent below 40 points and 27 percent shooting from the floor.

“Just knowing that we have guys that can guard multiple positions, that’s going to make it really hard for teams to score on us,” Roby said.

On the offensive end, Nebraska (2-0) scored 50 points in the first half for the second straight game. That’s the first time that’s happened since 2001. Every Husker starter finished in double figures.

Palmer led NU with 17 points on 5 for 10 shooting. Isaac Copeland added 11 points and three redounds, Roby was close to a double-double with 10 points and seven rebounds.

Allen was a facilitator, with 10 points and a team-high five assists. Glynn Watson had three assists and 16 points. Nebraska shot 56 percent from the floor — above 55 percent in both games this season. The Huskers had 21 assists on 31 field goals.

Southeastern Louisiana (1-2) shot 26 percent from the floor. Nebraska, with the best field goal percentage defense in the country, held SELU to 15 made field goals and forced 25 turnovers, which NU turned into 33 Husker points.

“Nebraska is a really good team,” SELU coach Jay Ladner said. “We could play them 100 times, and we’re not going to beat them.”

Despite the two blowout wins, there are still questions surrounding this team for Miles. Mississippi Valley State and Southeastern Louisiana rank near the bottom of college basketball.

But there’s a relief to come away with two wins and zero injuries. And Nebraska has shown its ability to defend no matter the scheme, and its ability to hold onto leads.

Sunday was a good way to start practicing some of the elements Nebraska will need down the road, including slowing teams down with a 1-3-1 zone or speeding them up with a press.

“After the first three, four minutes, we stopped them in man, or zone or press,” Miles said. “So I think it was all good for us.”

The win also proved to Copeland that NU can get out to a big lead and not look back. That hasn’t always happened in the past.

“You get up by 16 or 17, you don’t have that big run, the other team gets you and gets it back down to six or seven and then at halftime everyone is hysterical,” Miles said. “Nice to skip that part this year so far.”

Nebraska’s schedule now heats up.

The Huskers host Big East foe Seton Hall (1-0) on Wednesday in a game that’s been circled on NU’s calendar for a while. The Pirates finished 22-12 last season, and were an eight seed in the NCAA tournament. They lost to No. 1 seed Kansas 83-79. They’ve been picked to finish near the middle of the Big East this season, and won their first game of the year 89-49 over Wagner.

When asked if they were looking forward to Wednesday, Copeland, Allen and Roby nodded in unison.

“Last year, we lost the matchup against a Big East team,” Copeland said. “We want to make sure we come out and make a statement early.”

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