With unrelenting intensity and a sense of calm, Huskers hold off Clemson for first true road win

CLEMSON, S.C. — Isaac Copeland swung the ball to the corner to Thomas Allen, who casually and quickly threw up a triple with a hand in his face and nailed it, extending Nebraska’s lead to 64-56.

Clemson coach Brad Brownell called a timeout. The Nebraska bench erupted onto the court to meet Allen and Copeland for high fives.

Inside the huddle, for what seemed like most of the 30-second timeout, Copeland screamed to his teammates.

“We are winning this game! We are winning this game!”

“Hey,” James Palmer said. “Chill out, bro. Chill out.”

And it was those two forces that led Nebraska to its first true road win of the season at Clemson. Unrelenting intensity, and a sense of calm amid one of the most chaotic endings of the season.

The Huskers took that eight-point lead from Clemson with 2:29 left off the Allen 3-pointer and held off a fierce final run from the Tigers to close out a 68-66 win. Nebraska is now 6-1 on the year, and gets what will inevitably end up a solid Quadrant 1 win in the eyes of the NCAA selection committee. Clemson (5-2) drops its second game after climbing to No. 16 in the AP poll.

After a quiet first half, Palmer scored 14 in the second half, finishing with 20 points on 8 for 14 shooting and nine rebounds. He got his night started early with a layup and moved his game outside, canning a 3-pointer from a claw on the Tiger paw near midcourt to give Nebraska a 50-45 lead late in the second half.

“It was a hard fought game tonight and we just wanted to come and prove a point,” Palmer said postgame. “We know this is a statement game and we just wanted to come and take care of business.”

Marquise Reed, Clemson’s leading scorer, scored 15 points on 14 shots. Clemson shot 49 percent for the game, but struggled in the second half, going five minutes at one point without scoring a field goal.

Copeland helped Palmer out with 16 points. Nebraska shot 47 percent from the field, and 7 for 22 from 3-point range.

The tone was set early for the evening when, less than three minutes into the game, Clemson’s Elijah Thomas kicked Nebraska’s Isaiah Roby in the gut during a scrum in the lane.

The two received technicals. From there, the fight was on.

A week ago, Nebraska was bullied by a physical Texas Tech team and lost 70-52 and coach Tim Miles questioned his team’s toughness. Whether or not his team could win those types of games. Some of that doubt was erased on Monday.

“Can’t say enough about our kids,” Miles said. “Tough road environment, got a quality win.”

Miles said pregame the teams were mirror images of each other, and that proved to be true after 20 minutes with a 31-31 halftime tie. Nebraska did not shoot well in the first 20 minutes, particularly from deep. The Huskers were 3 for 14 from 3 and did not move the ball well, with just three assists on 11 made field goals.

In the second half, Nebraska opened with a layup, a dunk, a layup and a dunk. It stopped taking quick shots, and attacked the lane.

Copeland led NU in the first half while the rest of the team struggled to find a shot, scoring 10 of Nebraska’s 31 points. In the second, Palmer took over, with a transition dunk, a 3 and 10 more second half points. But he got help from everyone else, Miles said. Glynn Watson scored 12, Allen had five, Nana Aketen scored five and Tanner Borchardt scored three points and snagged two offensive rebounds in a three-minute span while  Roby sat with foul trouble. Roby finished with seven points.

On paper the game was about as close as it could be. The two teams made the same amount of field goals, shot just one percentage different from 3-point range, were one off on turnovers, one off on rebounds, two off in points in the paint.

But the difference, Miles said, was one play in the second half.

After Reed nailed a 3 out of a timeout, Clemson had a chance to score again on the next possession to get to a one-possession game. But Copeland smacked a layup off the backboard, was the first guy on the ground, then shoveled a pass ahead to Allen, who threw it down the court to an open Palmer, who dunked behind his head to give Nebraska a 66-59 lead with less than a minute remaining.

“Amazing play. That’s an amazing — I mean, people don’t do that,” Miles said of Palmer’s dunk.

That was the intensity. And then there was the calm, personified by Watson making two free throws to put the game out of reach in the closing seconds.

In the empty arena, Palmer told the Husker Sports Network the loss to Texas Tech last week was his fault. He got in foul trouble, and couldn’t perform. He just wanted to show up for his teammates on the road Monday.

“People are always going to get excited, they obviously have high expectations for us and we’re just worried about ourselves,” Palmer said. “We’re gonna take care of business about what we do as a team, so coming out here tonight was definitely a great win.”

NEBRASKA (6-1)

FG FT RB PF A Min TP

Copeland 6-11 4-4 6 2 3 34 16

Roby 3-6 0-0 3 4 1 22 7

Palmer 8-14 2-3 9 2 0 35 20

Watson 4-14 2-2 4 3 2 38 12

Allen 2-4 0-0 1 0 3 30 5

Borchardt 1-1 1-2 2 1 0 16 3

Heiman 0-0 0-0 1 0 0 5 0

Akenten 2-5 0-0 2 0 1 14 5

Harris 0-0 0-0 0 1 0 4 0

Totals 26-55 9-11 29 13 10 200 68

3-point shots (7-22) — Copeland 0-3, Roby 1-3, Palmer 2-5, Watson 2-7, Allen 1-1, Akenten 1-3.

Team rebounds — 1. Turnovers — 10. Shot percent — 47.3.

CLEMSON (5-2)

FG FT RB PF A Min TP

Thomas 7-8 2-2 4 3 2 23 16

Skara 2-4 0-0 3 3 3 27 4

Simms 4-9 0-0 8 1 2 36 8

Reed 6-14 2-2 5 3 3 34 15

Mitchell 4-10 4-6 3 1 3 36 13

White 0-1 2-2 2 1 0 12 2

Tyson 0-1 0-0 1 0 0 4 0

Newman 0-2 0-0 1 1 0 6 0

Trapp 3-4 0-0 2 1 2 21 8

Totals 26-53 10-2 30 14 15 200 66

3-point shots (4-12) — Simms 0-3, Reed 1-4, Mitchell 1-1, Tyson 0-1, Newman 0-1, Trapp 2-2.

Team rebounds — 1. Turnovers — 11. Shot percent — 49.1.

Nebraska……….31 37—68

At Clemson…….31 35—66

A — 6,974. Officials — Roger Ayers, Mike Eades, Jamie Luckie.

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