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No. 24 Nebraska hits the road to take on Minnesota
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
Latest Line: Nebraska -3.5 O/U: 140
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No. 24 Nebraska will look to validate its first ranking in the Associated Press poll since 2014 when it faces Minnesota on Wednesday night in Minneapolis.

Nebraska (7-1) is coming off a 75-60 win over Illinois in its Big Ten opener on Sunday to add to their best start since 2003.

Senior James Palmer Jr. was able to get to the free throw line against the Illini, hitting 12 of 14 for a game-high 23 points. His ability to get to the foul line helped him overcome a lackluster shooting day from the field (4 of 12).

Nebraska was able to exploit Illinois at the free throw line thanks to 23 Illini fouls.

Nebraska coach Tim Miles praised the team's shooting as the difference.

"I think getting to the foul line for us was important and the fact we made some 3s tonight helped too," he said. "If we can do both of those, we're a tough out."

The Cornhuskers shot 25 for 30 at the line and 6 of 14 from beyond the arc.

Palmer Jr. was helped by fellow seniors Isaac Copeland Jr. and Glynn Watson Jr., who had 16 and 14 points, respectively. Watson added six rebounds and three assists as well as two of the Cornhuskers' six 3-pointers.

Miles pointed to Nebraska getting off to a fast start against Illinois as a key factor.

"It was really important with these guys, to get on top of them and then keep them at arm's length," Miles said.

The Cornhuskers were able to keep the Illini in check with their smothering defense, which produced eight steals en route to forcing 15 turnovers. Junior forward Isaiah Roby (8.3 points per game, 5.6 rebounds per game) had three steals to go with eight points.

Minnesota (6-2) is coming off a 20-point loss to No. 16 Ohio State to start its Big Ten season. The Golden Gophers are led by senior double-double machine Jordan Murphy (14.6 ppg, 12 rpg) and junior guard Amir Coffey (14.3 ppg).

The Buckeyes were able to hold Murphy in check, but Coffey had his best scoring output of the season with 19 points.

Coach Richard Pitino was disappointed in the Gophers' toughness.

"They (Ohio State) were the way more physical team, imposing their will on us," he said. "We were not ready for that physicality.

"That is what the Big Ten is about. ... If you're not going to bring it physically, you are not going to win in this league."

Pitino and the Gophers will have to bring that physicality to protect their home court on Wednesday night after being outrebounded 42-33 by the Buckeyes.

The Cornhuskers have five players that average more than four rebounds per game and they were all over the glass against the Illini, outrebounding them 35-30.

It would also benefit Minnesota to hit a 3-pointer when Nebraska comes to town. Minnesota went 0 of 13 from distance against Ohio State.

If Nebraska is shooting efficiently, like it did against Illinois, it could be difficult for Minnesota to keep up.