LINCOLN, Neb. — Glynn Watson Jr. was coming off a miserable game, with six points on 2-of-11 shooting in a loss to No. 3 Michigan State. He got back on track Tuesday night.
Watson scored 20 of his 29 points in the second half and Nebraska opened up a 16-point lead early in the second half en route to a 78-68 win over No. 14 Minnesota.
“This is all-conference Glynn, right?,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. “He did a great job all night. … He was really determined the whole day and yesterday. I don’t think he felt good watching tape of Michigan State. It wasn’t anything new or different. It was just Glynn.”
Watson scored seven straight points to open the second half, and Duby Okeke’s dunk put Nebraska (7-3, 1-1 Big Ten) up 48-32 with 15:35 left.
Minnesota (8-2, 1-1) made two of its first 10 shots in the half and struggled against the Huskers’ switching man-to-man defense.
Minnesota cut the lead to 67-53 after two free throws by Nate Mason with 4:37 left, but James Palmer Jr.’s 3 put Nebraska up by 17.
The Gophers forced a pair of turnovers, hit three 3-pointers in the final three minutes, and Reggie Lynch’s dunk with 1:01 left cut the lead to 72-64. Watson and Isaac Copeland made 6 of 8 free throws in the final minute to seal it.
“They just played better than we did and when we need to get stops, we couldn’t,” Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said. “Offensively, obviously, we didn’t have it going. If you don’t have it going offensively, you’ve got to get stops and get out on the break. We did not do that. Credit to them.”
Watson downplayed his scoring, crediting the win to good team play, especially on the defensive end of the floor.
“It felt good,” Watson said. “We just executed our stuff and played good defense. That’s what we need to start doing. We got a good win.”
Using an aggressive, double-teaming defense, the Huskers held Big Ten scoring leader Jordan Murphy to 10 points, 11 below his season average, and held high-scoring Minnesota 21 points below its season average.
“I thought we played really hard tonight, too,” Miles said. “You cannot let them get going inside or they’ll brutalize you. I thought our guys did a really, really good job.”
Mason led Minnesota with 20 points, and Amir Coffey had 17 points.
Copeland finished with 12 points for Nebraska and Palmer had 11 points.
Minnesota missed six shots to open both halves. The Gophers hit just 32 percent of their shots Tuesday. They entered averaging 49 percent shooting.
Nebraska, an up-and-down shooting team, hit 47 percent of its shots, 57 percent in the second half. The Huskers shot just 27 percent in their 86-57 loss at Michigan State on Sunday.
Nebraska travels to Omaha on Saturday to meet intrastate rival Creighton, which dropped out of the AP Top 25 after being ranked for one week.
Minnesota is at Arkansas on Saturday to play its second road contest and third game of the week.