Playing through illness, Allen helps Huskers lock up Cowboys in dominant second half
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — When Thomas Allen went to bed Saturday night, he was still in Lincoln and not sure he would even make the trip to South Dakota for Nebraska’s game against Oklahoma State.
When he woke up Sunday, he was ready to go.
So he hopped in a car at 7 a.m. with one of Nebraska’s graduate assistants, made the drive up Interstate 29, and played a critical role as the Huskers knocked off the Cowboys 79-56 in the Sanford Pentagon.
Allen was one of three Huskers to miss practice because of illness in the week leading up to the game. He went to a Lincoln hospital Friday with a stomach virus and migraine headaches and wasn’t released until 3 a.m. Saturday morning.
By the end of the day Sunday, the sophomore guard had scored 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting, knocking down a pair of three-pointers, and coming up with two of Nebraska’s 10 steals.
“Extremely proud of Tom,” senior Isaac Copeland said. “Coming off the Creighton game and he was getting sick, I was like ’Man, he’s on a good roll right now and he’s got to keep it going.”
Nebraska stayed on a good roll, too. A week after blasting Creighton, the Huskers (9-2) outscored their old conference foe 47-26 in the second half while putting together perhaps their best defensive half of basketball this season.
The Cowboys (4-6) led 28-21 before an 11-2 Nebraska run to end the first half that featured a trio of three-pointers, including one from Glynn Watson just before the horn.
The Huskers then put the vice on Oklahoma State’s offense in the second half.
Before making its final four shots of the contest with the game already well in hand, Oklahoma State was 6-for-21 from the field in the second half. That included a stretch of five straight turnovers early in the period as Nebraska extended the lead.
A Cowboy team averaging nine made threes per game while shooting nearly 42 percent from long range finished 2-for-15 from behind the arc against Nebraska and went 0-for-9 in the second half. It was the first time this season OSU has made fewer than seven threes in a game.
“The second half defense, I thought, was just really good. And sometimes, with Oklahoma State and the way they play so physical, you have to run to that fight,” NU coach Tim Miles said. “And we didn’t. We kind of warmed to the fight, took a look at our blood, then were like ‘eh, OK. We’ll fight.’
“I thought that was really good and you could see that in the second half with how well we played defense.”
Playing in front of a largely pro-Nebraska standing room-only crowd of 3,800 in the 3,250-seat arena, the Huskers got a game-high 29 points and five assists from James Palmer.
The senior went 14-of-15 at the free throw line and knocked down three of his four three-point attempts. Palmer is 9-for-11 from three over his last two games.
Copeland scored 16 on 7-for-11 shooting and added five rebounds and two assists. Those two and Allen were the only Huskers to reach double figures.
Copeland sparked the Huskers’ run to end the first half, knocking down back-to-back jumpers. That mini-run was the start of Nebraska outscoring Oklahoma State 58-29 to end the game after falling behind 28-21.
Yor Anei led Oklahoma State with 17 points and eight rebounds. Lindy Waters and Michael Weathers each scored 13.