LINCOLN, Neb. — James Palmer, Jr. scored 18 points and Nebraska raced out to an early 23 point lead and downed North Texas 86-67 on Monday night.
Nebraska (2-0) came out hot, hitting eight of its first 10 shots, four of them 3-pointers, and making all three of its free throws to take a 25-2 lead on Jack McVeigh’s dunk throws with 11:52 remaining in the first half.
North Texas (1-1) made just two field goals in the first 10 minutes of the game against a stifling Nebraska defense. The Mean Green had just four baskets in the first 16 minutes while Nebraska had six blocked shots. The Mean Green fell behind 44-16 after Evan Taylor’s free throws with 3:29 left in the half, then used a late surge to cut the halftime margin to 52-30.
“Give Nebraska credit because early they bullied us and beat us up on the glass and physically took us out of what we were trying to do and we panicked a little bit,” North Texas coach Grant McCasland said. “We’ll get better from it.”
Nebraska cooled off after intermission, scoring just seven points in the first seven minutes of the period and hitting just 8 of 32 shots in the half. But North Texas could get no closer than 17 as Nebraska hit 17 of its 24 second half free throws. The Huskers were 33 of 45 from the line for the game. North Texas committed 34 fouls and Nebraska committed 22.
“I’m going to hear whistles in my sleep,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said.
“I think everybody came out to play hard and didn’t think about making shots or anything,” said Nebraska guard Glynn Watson, Jr., who finished with 15 points, two assists and two steal. “That took care of itself. I think that was the main key tonight, coming out playing hard. We made shots the first half… I think we were up so much we kind of calmed down. We should have stayed on them, but we didn’t. That’s one thing we’ve got to work on. Just keep trying to play defense.”
Taylor added 12, 10 of them from the free throw line. Isaiah Roby had 11 points and McVeigh 10 points for the Huskers.
Shane Temara had 16 points to lead North Texas. Ryan Woolridge had 14 points and DJ Draper and Allante Holston had 10 each for the Mean Green, who had nine shots blocked by the Huskers.
“I think one thing is you try to prepare them for the fact that you get in the paint, you thing you have a good angle around but then there’s a lot better length, “McCasland. “You better learn to be aggressive, but make the simple play for your teammate. As much as you try to prepare them for that, you get in the game and you still feel like you can maybe get the angle and get it up. Then it gets blocked or deflected and they’re off to the races. I could count probably 20 times where that happened. We just got too deep in the paint and didn’t make a simple play for our teammates.”
North Texas: The Mean Green, playing its first season under coach Grant McCasland, is one of the youngest teams in the NCAA with just one senior on its roster. North Texas has nine freshmen or sophomores, including four of Monday’s starter.
Nebraska: All 12 of its scholarship players saw action in the first half, including Thorir Thorbjarnarson. The 6-5 Reykjavik native is the only Icelander on an NCAA Division 1 roster this season.
North Texas: The Mean Green returns home to face Bethune-Cookman on Thursday.
Nebraska: The Huskers go to New York to play St. John’s on Thursday as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games.
More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org