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Huskers take down Oklahoma State

December 17, 2018

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Thomas Allen looked miserable.

He sat on the bench in warm-ups, his head hanging and his eyes closed, rap music pulsing in the Sanford Pentagon. Twenty-six hours ago, Allen was in the hospital with a stomach virus and migraines. He’d never been so sick in his life, he said later.

While the team loaded a bus and drove north on Saturday afternoon, Allen stayed behind. But he woke up at 6 a.m. Sunday and thought he’d give it a try.

He got into town around noon and met up with the team. At around 4, Allen eventually got loose, but hardly left one spot on the 3-point line. He didn’t jump all that much as he tossed shots toward the rim. He was expressionless and tired.

But after dropping a career-high 18 points against Creighton, for the second straight game, Allen showed up to play.

Despite recovering from his hospital stay, the sophomore scored 14 points, hit two 3-pointers, dished out two assists and stole two passes in the Huskers’ 79-56 win over Oklahoma State.

James Palmer scored 29 points, but Allen’s play epitomized Nebraska’s victory Sunday, Palmer said.

“It showed he got heart and that he’s about the team,” Palmer said. “He definitely helped us out tonight.”

In a game on a neutral court packed with Nebraska fans, the Huskers held one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country to two 3s, seven less than their average. Nebraska, meanwhile, hit 8 3-pointers and buckled down defensively in the second half for its ninth win of the year.

“You have to prove you can win away from home, and although this had a great environment to it, it’s still away from home,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. “I thought our guys did a good job because they performed better as the game went on.”

Nebraska (9-2, 1-1 Big Ten) didn’t enter Sunday’s game at full strength.

Three players missed practice this week because of an illness running through the team. Freshman Amir Harris hasn’t practiced in a week and didn’t make the trip. Isaiah Roby was out this week for a day, as was Allen, who said he got sick Wednesday.

That, plus a few days between games, led to a slow start for Nebraska. Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton is a protege of Illinois coach Brad Underwood. So similar to Nebraska’s game against the Illini this year, the Huskers were sloppy early, with two turnovers on their first four possessions.

Oklahoma State overplayed the wings and could switch screens at every position, which, as has been the case all year, really bothered the Huskers.

Nebraska couldn’t get into an offense and turned the ball over eight times in the first half. An iffy no-call on an over-and-back led to Oklahoma State guard Lindy Waters’ second 2-pointer of the half, which gave the Cowboys a 28-21 lead with 3:35 left.

At the under four-minute timeout, Miles drew up a new way to initiate the offense. That unlocked everything.

In the closing minutes, the Huskers forced two straight shot clock violations, then Glynn Watson baited Oklahoma State guard Michael Weathers into an offensive foul at midcourt.

Meanwhile, Isaac Copeland made a long 2, followed by a 3, followed by a Palmer 3, followed by a 3 from Watson in the corner in the final seconds of the half. Nebraska took a 32-30 lead into halftime to the roar of a predominately red crowd 239 miles from Pinnacle Bank Arena.

“With Oklahoma State, the way they play is so physical, you have to run into that fight. And we didn’t,” Miles said. “We kind of warmed to the fight. Took a look at our blood, and said, ‘Eh, OK. We’ll fight.’ ”

In the second half, Nebraska came out in the first four minutes and dominated defensively, holding OSU to no buckets in nearly four minutes and turning the Cowboys over four straight times in that span.

In the final four minutes of the first half and the first five of the second, Nebraska outscored Oklahoma State 22-4.

Offensively, Nebraska leaned on Palmer, who got to the foul line 14 times, making 13.

In the second half, the plan was to find an open look, and if that failed, have Palmer make a play. He did, time and time again, as he’s done many times this year.

“We didn’t want to settle (against) a team that pressures like Illinois, so we definitely wanted to attack the basket and get to the rim,” Palmer said.

Oklahoma State tried to make a run at the end, but Nebraska’s defense was too good, forcing 11 second-half turnovers and holding the Cowboys to 0 for 9 from 3-point range after halftime.

And as a team, Nebraska played with a little more heart.

Late in the second, Oklahoma State forward Michael Weathers missed a dunk, which was rebounded by Copeland, who passed to Allen. The sophomore pulled up in transition with a hand in his face and drilled a shot at the elbow, pushing the lead to 63-46. He found Copeland two possessions later for three-point play to give Nebraska its first 20-point lead .

After the whistle, Allen clapped to the Pentagon crowd and was hugged by coaches on the next timeout.

“Sometimes he’s kinda the fifth Beatle and I think he did a great job tonight,” Miles said. “I took him out with like 12 minutes to go in the second half and he’s like, ‘I’m good.’ And I’m like ‘No, you’re coming out before you need an IV.’

“It was good,” Miles added. “It was good.”

OKLAHOMA STATE (4-6)

FG FT RB PF A Min TP

Dziagwa 0-4 0-0 2 3 0 14 0

McGriff 1-8 0-2 10 4 1 30 2

Likekele 2-5 2-4 4 5 2 34 6

Anei 7-10 3-4 8 2 1 25 17

Waters 5-8 1-1 2 2 2 33 13

Jones 1-5 0-0 2 0 1 17 2

Demuth 0-0 1-2 1 0 0 8 1

Weathers 6-11 1-2 1 2 2 25 13

Major 1-1 0-0 0 0 0 1 2

Cunningham 0-4 0-0 1 0 0 13 0

Totals 23-56 8-15 34 19 9 200 56

3-point shots (2-15) — Waters 2-4, McGriff 0-2, Jones 0-2, Weathers 0-1, Cunningham 0-2, Dziagwa 0-4.

Team rebounds — 3. Turnovers — 19. Shot percent — 41.1.

NEBRASKA (9-2)

FG FT RB PF A Min TP

Palmer 6-17 14-15 2 0 5 38 29

Watson 2-8 2-2 4 1 1 34 7

Copeland 7-11 1-1 5 1 2 34 16

Roby 2-4 1-1 7 4 1 27 5

Akenten 0-3 0-0 5 2 0 16 0

Trueblood 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 2 0

Allen 5-7 2-2 1 2 2 27 14

Borchardt 1-1 2-2 0 2 0 13 3

Costello 1-1 0-0 0 0 0 1 3

Thorbjarnarson 0-0 0-0 0 1 2 4 0

Heiman 1-1 0-0 0 0 0 4 2

Totals 25-53 21-23 28 13 13 200 79

3-point shots (8-18) — Palmer 3-4, Allen 2-3, Costello 1-1, Copeland 1-3, Watson 1-5, Akenten 0-2.

Team rebounds — 4. Turnovers — 12. Shot percent — 47.2.

Oklahoma State 30 26—56

At Nebraska 32 47—79

A — 3,800. Officials — Terry Wymer, Terry Oglesby, Keith Kimble.

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