Date: Wednesday, March 14th
Time: 8:00pm CST on ESPN2
Where: Humphrey Coliseum (Starkville, MS)
The Tip Off
The Nebraska Cornhuskers have had a disappointing season. Although their record indicates strong play, it has only masked some problems they have had. Similar to Mississippi State, Nebraska has lots of wins against bad opponents including Long Beach State, UTSA, and Stetson (never heard of that school). They can get wins against lesser competition but when the Cornhuskers have played quality competition they have faltered. They only have 6 wins against teams with a winning record as well as only 1 win vs a NCAA tournament bound team (Michigan). There are some interesting items of note when talking about Nebraska’s season. This squad has actually put together the 3rd most single season wins in program history as well as a school record for conference wins (13). But even a team with over 20 wins and solid conference play was left out of the NCAA tournament. Sound familiar?
Cast of Characters
Coach Tim Miles in his 6th season at Nebraska. He enjoyed some early success in his 2nd year with a berth in the NCAA tournament but his teams have largely been disappointing. He only has 2 winning seasons in Lincoln and a .426 conference record. He previously coached North Dakota State and Colorado State, leading Colorado State to the NCAA Second Round in 2012.
James Palmer Jr. is the leader on the court for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. He is one of only 3 players with NCAA tournament experience on the team. Palmer played for 2 seasons at Miami helping them go to the Sweet 16 in 2016. This year he is averaging 17.3 PPG and 2.9 SPG. His size and athleticism that have helped the Cornhuskers get to the NIT.
If there is a player that makes the Cornhusker train go, it would be Glynn Watson. The 6 foot guard averages 10.5 PPG as well as 3.3 APG. He has played in every game for the past 3 seasons for the Cornhuskers. He has been a go-to guy late in games with thrilling wins over Dayton and Ohio State last season.
Another key contributor on the Cornhuskers is Issac Copeland. The 6’9” Forward out of Raleigh , NC averages 12.9 PPG. He previously played at Georgetown where he was selected preseason All-Big East. Copeland possess great length and is a smooth complement to Watson and Palmer.
The game is being played in Starkville. This fuels a hot start for the Bulldogs. Both Weatherspoon brothers attack the rim and get points consistently. Lamar Peters is conducting and piling assists as well as spotting up and hitting the occasional 3 pointer. The Bulldogs two big men in Abdul Ado and Aric Holman take control inside. They are getting the defensive rebounds and stealing some offensive rebounds. Tyson Carter and EJ Datcher are subbed in and continue to positively contribute and the Bulldogs easily win.
Mississippi State opens the game by settling for 3’s. The Cornhusker defense continues to stifle and the 3’s simply do not fall. Palmer gets free for some wide open jump shots and hits daggers. Watson distributes the ball and multiple players get double digit points. The Bulldogs rally back as they have done in previous games but the upper class leadership from Lincoln don’t allow a come back. The Bulldogs fall short by a few possessions and lose.
Mississippi State wins the rematch in a back and forth affair 85-81.