NU MEDIA RELATIONS:
Lincoln, Neb. – Behind an all-around effort from Glynn Watson Jr., Nebraska overcame a sluggish first half and pulled away from Sacramento State, 83-61, Sunday evening in the Huskers’ season opener.
Watson led four Huskers in double figures, scoring a career-high 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting and adding six assists, five rebounds and a trio of steals for the Big Red, who won their 15th consecutive season opener.
Tai Webster posted his third career 20-point effort with 20 points and five rebounds, while sophomore forwards Ed Morrow Jr. (15 points) and Jack McVeigh (14 points) combined for 29 points for NU. For Morrow, it was a career high as he also grabbed six boards, while McVeigh went 3-of-5 from long range and added a team-high seven caroms.
Watson was magnificent in the first half, scoring 17 of his points in the first half, as Nebraska clung to a 36-33 lead over Sacramento State (0-2). After jumping out to a 9-2 lead, Sacramento State hung around for most of the first half, as NU shot just 41 percent in the first half, compared to 48 percent for the visitors.
The Huskers and Hornets were tied at 31 with less than two minutes remaining in the first half before the Huskers took control with a 10-2 spurt that spanned both halves. Watson’s 3-point play with 1:28 left in the half gave NU the lead for good, as the Huskers stretched the margin to 31-33 with 18:26 left.
The Hornets pulled to within 52-42 with 13:25 left, but the Huskers responded with a 10-2 spurt over the next two minutes, pushing the lead to 18, at 62-44, after a pair of Isaiah Roby free throws with 10:43 left.
While Watson controlled the first, Webster scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half to pace the Husker attack, which shot 57 percent in the second half and led by as many as 26 points before cruising to a 22-point margin.
Nick Hornsby led the Hornets with 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Justin Strings added 12 points for the visitors.
Sophomore guard Glynn Watson Jr.
On setting a new career high:
“I just tried to play aggressive and execute our game plan. That was basically what I tried to do, was play aggressive and try to get my teammates open. I had open shots so I took them, that was basically it.”
On the starters playing for the first 8 minutes and whether that contributed to playing as a unit later in the game:
“I think we played pretty well, that’s what [Head Coach Tim Miles] was on us about, just staying together, more from the bench. I think us together, we played together last year, so I think that was a big key. That was basically it.”
On going on a run early in the second half and what that did for the team:
“That gave us a lot of confidence and a lot of leeway so we could get up and coast from there. I think that’s what helped us out to get our lead up and be able to play our game. Then they had to press and that’s why we got a lot more easy shots.”
Senior guard Tai Webster
On nerves among his teammates with this being their first game:
“There’s always nerves. A lot of guys, this is their first time out, especially for the freshmen and transfers and whatnot. We’ve got [Junior guard Anton Gill] coming in. We had a lot of nerves on the team but I think second half we shook them off and got back to work.”
On what the difference was between the first and second halves:
“[Coach Miles] got on us in the locker room and I feel like every guy in the locker room took it personally, take on the challenge.”
On what Head Coach Tim Miles said at halftime:
“Just how sluggish we were. We were giving up too many open shots and too many second chances for them. We didn’t really turn the ball over but we weren’t really aggressive with it either. We kind of just let the game come to us, we need to be aggressive on offense.”
On what they will take away from this game in preparation for Tuesday’s game against the University of Mary:
“I think we just move on to the next one from here. It’s a long season, and early games early on you want to try to get as many under your belt as you can. Obviously we [have to] leave this one behind us, celebrate it in the locker room but once everyone leaves that locker room, onto the next one. It’s a really nice thing, to finally get out there and play some competition. We’ve been going at each other’s necks in practice for months, it’s awesome to just get out there and put all that work going at each other out on someone else.”
Sophomore forward Jack McVeigh
On his perimeter shooting performance:
“It’s a long season, so there’s a lot of shots to be taken. But also, I’m getting open looks from [Watson Jr. and Webster]. You saw it in the game, they were drawing so much attention they just kind of forgot about me in the corner. So these guys getting me easy looks, all I [have to] do is make the shot.”