SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Nebraska got 29 points from James Palmer Jr. and the Huskers pulled away in the second half to defeat Oklahoma State 79-56 on Sunday night at the Sanford Pentagon.
Palmer came in averaging 18.7 points per game but blew by that number early in the second half. He scored a season-high 30 points in Nebraska’s last outing, a 19-point win over Creighton on Dec. 8.
Playing in front of essentially a home crowd, Nebraska (9-2) also got 16 points from Isaac Copeland Jr. and 14 from Thomas Allen. Allen came off the bench after suffering an illness all week. He was diagnosed with a stomach virus and was in a Lincoln Hospital until early Saturday morning. He left Lincoln for Sioux Falls at 7 a.m., arrived at the venue around noon and played 27 minutes going 5 of 7 from the field.
“For him to come in and be able to understand the defensive game plan and what’s going on, I think you can see what we saw in the recruiting process,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. “Sometimes he’s kind of the fifth Beatle. He did a great job tonight and made huge baskets.”
Nebraska’s biggest lead of the first half was 32-30 when Glynn Watson Jr. buried a deep 3-pointer at the buzzer after the Huskers trailed for most of the half. It was part of a 23-5 run that carried over into the second half and gave Nebraska a 46-35 lead when Allen hit a 3-pointer with 13:53 to play.
Oklahoma State trailed by double figures the rest of the way.
The Huskers extended the lead to 24 when Copeland hit a jumper to make it 70-46 with nearly three minutes to play. A late 3-pointer from freshman Justin Costello made it 79-54 with 29 seconds left — Nebraska’s biggest lead of the game.
The Sanford Pentagon is four hours north of Lincoln, Nebraska, and the 3,000-seat venue was overwhelmingly filled with Huskers fans.
“I think it might have caught our guys off guard a little bit. I don’t know if they knew exactly what to expect,” Miles said. “We just needed to process the whole deal, and I thought we got stronger as the game went on. You have to prove that you can win away from home, and although this had a great environment to it, it’s still away from home.”
Freshman Yor Anei led Oklahoma State (4-6) with a season-high 17 points and Lindy Waters III and Michael Weathers scored 13 apiece.
Trailing 28-21, the Huskers clamped down on defense and got a pair of 3-pointers from Isaac Copeland to take momentum into halftime. The Nebraska defense also forced two shot-clock violations in the final two minutes of the half, adding to their momentum surge.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
The Cowboys entered the game shooting 42 percent from 3-point range. Their previous season low was seven made 3s, in their last outing, a 63-53 loss to then-unranked but now No. 24 Houston on Dec. 8.
Oklahoma State has now lost four in a row. The Cowboys shot just 13.3 percent from 3-point range, hit 8 of 15 from the free-throw line and committed 19 turnovers.
The Huskers made 21 free throws and shot 91.3 percent from the stripe — both season highs — and had 10 steals. They have won four of their last five.
Oklahoma State will be home for three straight, beginning Dec. 21 vs. Central Arkansas. The Cowboys open their Big 12 conference schedule on Jan. 2 vs. Iowa State.
Nebraska returns to home for two straight, beginning Dec. 22 against Cal State Fullerton.