Starkville, Miss. – James Palmer Jr. had a game-high 17 points, as Nebraska built a 23-point lead and held on down the stretch in posting a 76-72 win over Mississippi State Sunday afternoon at Humphrey Coliseum.
Palmer hit 5-of-6 shots from the floor, including a pair of 3-pointers, in his Husker debut as Nebraska won its 14th straight exhibition game. Glynn Watson Jr. and Jordy Tshimanga had 11 points each in a balanced attack that saw 10 of 11 players score on Sunday.
The proceeds from Sunday’s game went to organizations dealing with hurricane relief, as Nebraska Coach Tim Miles and Mississippi State Coach Ben Howland announced pregame that they had each contributed $2,500. Fans were encouraged to donate upon arriving at the arena Sunday.
The Bulldogs, who returned four starters from last year’s team, whittled the deficit to 73-70 on a pair of Nick Weatherspoon free throws with 15.4 seconds left. Nebraska got the ball to Watson, who split a pair of free throws to push the lead back to four. Nebraska then got a stop on MSU’s Lamar Peters and Jack McVeigh sank a pair of free throws with five seconds left to give NU a hard-fought win.
In all, NU held Mississippi State to 44 percent shooting, including just 1-of-13 from 3-point range, while the Huskers shot 45 percent from the floor and had 16 assists.
E.J. Datcher led MSU with 12 points, while Eli Wright, KeyShawn Feazell added 19 apiece in a losing effort.
The Huskers played outstanding in the first half, as they never trailed and took a 48-32 lead into the locker room. NU shot 52 percent from the field and went 8-of-14 from 3-point range in the opening 20 minutes of action while holding the Bulldogs to just 45 percent shooting. Nebraska also moved the ball well with 10 assists to just five turnovers in the opening stanza while eight Huskers got into the scoring column.
Palmer got NU going early, scoring the Huskers first seven points, as NU jumped out to a 9-4 lead after a Duby Okeke basket. Parker had 12 first-half points, while Watson had 10 first-half points on 4-of-5 shooting and three assists in the first half. Mississippi State ran off five straight points to knot the game at nine and was within two before NU stretched the margin.
Nebraska took control with a 13-5 spurt, turning a 17-15 lead into a 10-point lead after two straight 3-pointers from Jack McVeigh to force a Bulldog timeout. NU eventually stretched the lead to 14 after an Evan Taylor 3 and a 3-point play from Anton Gill and stretched the lead to 16 just before the break after a dunk by Isaac Copeland off a McVeigh steal.
Nebraska stretched the lead in the opening minutes of the half, using a 9-2 run to build its largest lead of the game at 57-34 after a 3-point play from Palmer. The Huskers led 61-43 before MSU used a 7-2 spurt to pull within 63-50 after a pair of Tyson Carter free throws with 10:38 left.
The Huskers continued to lead in double figures while MSU fought back. After a Taylor basket with 6:37 left made it a 67-57 Husker lead, MSU made one last run. The Bulldogs cut the 10-point to 73-68 before Peters was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 15 seconds left. The guard missed the first, but made the next two to make it a one-possession game before the Huskers clinched the win at the foul line
The Huskers will host two preseason events. On Nov. 2, the Husker Hoops preview includes a practice and scrimmage, while NU will host Northwood in an exhibition game on Nov. 7.