Nebraska sets Pinnacle Arena record, opens season with win
LINCOLN — The student section decided Justin Costello should be next.
The walk-on guard from Elkhorn South was fresh off the bench, hadn’t as much as sniffed the court all evening, but when he caught a pass on the wing late in the second half, the students screamed.
“Shoot! Shoot it!”
So Costello obliged and buried Nebraska’s 15th 3-pointer of the night. It gave the Huskers a 69-point lead over Mississippi Valley State, and the lead would stay there for the final minutes for the second-largest win in program history, 106-37.
Nebraska dismantled the Delta Devils, holding MVSU to 19 percent shooting and forcing 19 turnovers. Nebraska, meanwhile, hit 38 shots on 69 attempts, with an assist on 23 of those makes. Nebraska came out gunning, starting the season off with a 25-footer from James Palmer that didn’t even move the net. The Huskers hit the 50-point mark in just 18 minutes of game play. Senior guard Glynn Watson led Nebraska with 19 points on 10 shots and three assists. Starters sat most of the second half.
But although the Huskers scored more than 100 points for the first time in a home opener since 1992, coach Tim Miles and his team were all business postgame. The victory improved Nebraska’s home winning streak to 13, tied for longest in the Pinnacle Bank Arena era.
But there’s still room to grow, Watson said. It’s a long season.
“That wasn’t a good team, so we’re just gonna keep working each and every day,” said the senior point guard.
Miles said he was pleased with how his team played start to finish. But not even the barrage of 3s and above-50 percent shooting could assuage Miles’ worries about Nebraska’s ability to make shots.
“We’re day by day,” he said. “I like the way we shoot it. I’ve seen us do it in practice. I think it’s gonna be one of those things where we’ll have tough nights and good nights.”
Palmer, who finished with 17 points and five assists, said there are plenty of things to work on between now and the next game Sunday afternoon at home against Southeastern Louisiana.
“We just gotta work on everything,” he said. “That was a good win for us. We still gotta work on our overall game.”
Nebraska (1-0) jumped out to a 20-4 lead after Watson made a Delta Devil nearly fall over and hit a step-back 3. After that, just as in the team’s exhibition game, Miles went to the bench and used 10 players in the first 10 minutes. Sophomore guard Nana Akenten made five of his 11 3-point attempts and finished with 18 points off the bench. Thorir Thorbjarnarson scored nine, and freshman Brady Heiman from Platteview added nine points and 13 rebounds.
“I thought Brady Heiman did a very nice job,” Miles said. “It was good for (Akenten) to get some reps up and down the floor, and you can see why we like him.”
From here, Miles won’t nitpick the film. He’ll dissect hustle and how his team played when it got tired. The win was the Huskers’ biggest since a 74-point victory over Crete in 1907. But it doesn’t satisfy the goal this season, which is why after the game, players stoically walked out of the locker room scrolling on their phones.
Tuesday was a good start. But one of the largest wins in school history isn’t what they’re after.
“Sometimes I feel like they’re casual, and that bothers me. I’m not casual,” Miles said. “That’s a little bit them, but I think that it’s on to the next, and we’re happy to play well, get the win, and now we’re ready to go get Southeastern Louisiana.”