CHICAGO — A late 15-0 run from Nebraska advanced the Huskers to the second round of the Big Ten tournament in a 68-61 win over Rutgers.
Nebraska trailed 51-48 with about five minutes left. NU then turned Rutgers over four times, hit four of six shots, and ran away with its first win in the conference tournament since 2016.
James Palmer scored a team-high 34 points. Glynn Watson added 11 points with five assists. Isaiah Roby finished with 10 points and six rebounds, and played the second half on a hobbled ankle. Walk-on Johnny Trueblood played 26 minutes, scored three points, snagged four rebounds and four steals.
Rutgers shot 49 percent form the floor, but Nebraska forced 22 turnovers and made 23 free throws to keep its season alive.
Nebraska will play the 5-seed Maryland tomorrow about 25 minutes after the conclusion of the Indiana-Ohio State game, which tips off at 11:30 a.m.
Rutgers’ season ended with a 14-18 record.
The first half was not easy on the eyes.
Nebraska missed seven of its first eight shots and fell into a hole early. Rutgers packed the lane forced Nebraska to miss three layups and missed two dunks in the opening 10 minutes. That turned into a 12-4 Rutgers lead.
But 11 first half turnovers and nine fouls from the Scarlet Knights kept the game close despite Rutgers’ 53 percent first-half shooting.
A 9-0 run late gave Nebraska its first lead at 23-21 on a Brady Heiman dunk. A lay in from Palmer at the buzzer put NU up 26-25 at the break.
Rutgers took back momentum with two quick scores in the opening 90 seconds. Roby rolled his ankle and sat briefly, and while out, Rutgers pushed that lead to 34-27.
But finally — after five scoreless minutes for NU — Palmer made a layup. And that triggered what would become 16 points in the first 10 minutes of the second half for Palmer. Two free throws from Palmer cut it to 45-44 with 10:03 left.
Blood pressure on both sidelines rose for the final 10 minutes, Miles screaming at his team at every timeout, Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell spitting mad at every NU bucket or close call.
Nebraska turned it over three times on possessions they could’ve tied or taken the lead.
A dunk from Myles Johnson off a Palmer turnover kept Rutgers ahead 51-46. But five straight points from Roby put NU up 52-51 with four minutes left.
Miles then called out an isolation for Palmer from the bench. A guarded 3-pointer rolled into the cup to give NU its largest lead of the game, 55-51.
A Trueblood steal and a lay in from Palmer gave Nebraska even more cushion. A Palmer steal and dunk — with an intentional foul — punctuated a 15-0 run.
Rutgers threatened late, but another steal from Trueblood, and another dunk from Palmer, sealed the win.
Big Ten Tournament: Nebraska vs. Maryland
When: 12:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: United Center, Chicago
Radio: KNCY 1600 AM, 105.5 FM