Nebraska Basketball: Defense lets down in Huskers loss to Maryland

(Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images) /

Nebraska basketball dropped a tight game to Maryland after a late score by Jalen Smith and the Huskers are now 0-2 in Big Ten road games.

It wasn’t just that Nebraska basketball struggled on defense against Maryland, it was that when the game was on the line, the Huskers couldn’t get the stop they needed and because of that, they are now 1-2 in conference play.

However, throughout the 74-72 win for Maryland Wednesday night in College Park, the Nebraska basketball team had a tough time getting stops. Maryland finished shooting 46 percent from the field and 47 percent from three, knocking down 8-of-17 shots from behind the 3-point line.

The 3-point shooting hurt, but what did even more damage to Nebraska was Maryland’s big guys. Jalen Smith, a 6-foot-10 freshman, finished the game with 15 points, including the final bucket with 3.8 seconds to go. Bruno Fernando, Maryland’ s other big, dominated with 18 points and 15 rebounds. Nebraska, with its lack of size inside, simply didn’t have an answer.

In terms of what it means, well, it means Nebraska missed a chance to get a solid win on the road. On top of that, the Huskers stint on the both the AP and Coaches polls could be over by Monday. But that’s not what this season is about, it’s about getting to the NCAA tournament.

On that front, this loss won’t hurt that much, as long as Nebraska doesn’t lose a bunch more games like it. Being 1-2 in the Big Ten isn’t where this team wants to be, yet expecting it to contend for the conference crown might be too much anyway.

Unfortunately, another road game awaits as the Huskers travel to No. 25 Iowa Sunday in a game that is now even more important. 1-3 is the Big Ten is not a good look, regardless of how tough it is. The next four games are at Iowa, home against Penn State, at Indiana and back to the vault to host Michigan State.

Going 2-2 in that stretch isn’t going to be easy. That would leave Nebraska at 3-4 in the league, which isn’t a bad start. But, if the Huskers lose against Iowa, things could fall off quickly and that is not what this team needs.

The two-point loss to Maryland was a missed opportunity, but it also wasted a stellar 26-point effort from James Palmer. Glynn Watson added 12 points and Isaiah Roby had 11.

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Nebraska basketball will be in action next at Iowa Sunday. Tip-off time is 4:30 CST.