CHICAGO – Once James Palmer Jr. pulled on his crisp red Nebraska jersey, it was mostly smooth sailing for the Cornhuskers.
Palmer scored 24 points after a late wardrobe change, and Nebraska shut down No. 21 Maryland 69-61 on Thursday afternoon at the United Center for the first big surprise of the Big Ten Tournament.
Using a seven-man rotation because of injuries and backup guard Nana Akenten’s suspension, the Cornhuskers harassed the Terrapins into 36 percent (18-for-50) shooting and 11 turnovers. Glynn Watson Jr. added 19 points, four rebounds and three assists, and Isaiah Roby finished with 15 points, six rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots.
“We believe in each other. That’s the main thing,” Watson said.
Palmer went 8-for-13 from the field and added five rebounds and three assists Thursday, after he matched a career high with 34 points in Wednesday’s tournament-opening victory over Rutgers. He played 40 minutes for the second straight day after realizing right before tip-off that he wasn’t wearing his game jersey.
“Oh man. I was shocked because I’ve never done that before,” Palmer said. “First time for everything. Lucky for me our manager Pat [Norris] got it to me in time.”
Nebraska (18-15) earned a second win in the Big Ten tourney for the first time since 2016, and will face fourth-seeded Wisconsin on Friday afternoon. The Cornhuskers lost 62-51 to the Badgers on Jan. 29 in their only meeting of the season.
“A lot of teams would just say, ‘We’ve got seven guys, there’s no way,’ and they’d quit,” coach Tim Miles said. “Not just say ‘I quit,’ but they just wouldn’t do those things. So I think that is probably that mentality is the thing I’m most proud of.”
Maryland (22-10) swept Nebraska during the regular season, including a 60-45 win in Lincoln on Feb. 6. But the Terrapins – one of the youngest teams in the country – struggled offensively in their third loss in their last four games.
Bruno Fernando, who entered with averages of 14 points and 10.5 rebounds, was held to three points and eight boards. Anthony Cowan Jr. scored 17 of his 18 points in the second half, and Darryl Morsell finished with 14.
“I knew they were gonna double-team me the whole time,” Fernando said. “I just think they did a really good job of that, and we got stagnant. I think we could have moved a lot more.”
The Terrapins trailed by as many as 13 in the first half, but they closed to 35-30 on Morsell’s jam with 14:49 left. The Cornhuskers responded with a 9-0 run, capped by Watson’s 3-pointer with 11:59 to go.
Coach Mark Turgeon was whistled for a technical foul with 8:25 left after no foul was called as Morsell drove up the court on a fast break. Watson then made two foul shots and Roby converted a three-point play, extending Nebraska’s lead to 51-37 with 8:12 left.
Maryland scored just 20 points on 29 percent shooting in the first half.
“We’ve overcome a lot. We’ll overcome this,” Turgeon said. “We just didn’t play well today. We’ll get ourselves ready to go, and hopefully play better in the NCAA Tournament.”
Nebraska’s Tanner Borchardt had nine rebounds as the Cornhuskers matched Maryland on the glass at 33 rebounds apiece. The Terrapins entered with one of the best rebounding margins in the nation at plus-8.8 per game.
Now, the Huskers will play a third game in 3 days – a tough order, for sure, but they feel a lot better about themselves than they did a week ago. They have won three in a row since a stretch of 11 losses in 13 games.
Ohio St. 79. Indiana 75: Keyshawn Woods scored 18 points, Kaleb Wesson added 17 points and a career-high 13 rebounds, and the Buckeyes hung on to beat the Hoosiers in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament.
Woods scored a key basket in the closing minute, and Wesson provided a big lift inside in his return from a punishment for violating athletic department policy, helping Ohio State stop a three-game losing streak.
C.J. Jackson added 17 points and hit two free throws in the closing seconds to preserve the win for the Buckeyes (19-13) after a 20-point lead with 7 minutes left in the second half dwindled to two. Ohio State will face No. 6 Michigan State on Friday.
Indiana’s Devonte Green scored 26 points, nailing 8 of 10 3-pointers. But the Hoosiers (17-15) came up short after winning four in a row to jump into the NCAA Tournament picture.
Minnesota-Penn St.: ???