By ANDREW SELIGMAN
AP Sports Writer
CHICAGO (AP) – James Palmer Jr. tied a career high with 34 points, and Nebraska beat Rutgers 68-61 in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament on Wednesday.
Palmer matched a personal best set against Ohio State last season and scored 27 in the second half to carry Nebraska.
The Cornhuskers (17-15) went on a 15-0 run to grab a 10-point lead in the closing minutes on the way to their second straight win after dropping 11 of 13. They are banking on a run in the conference tournament to vault them into the NCAA picture and maybe save coach Tim Miles’ job.
Eugene Omoruyi led Rutgers (14-17) with 16 points. Myles Johnson added 11 points and 11 rebounds, but the Scarlet Knights were one and done this time after winning at least one game in the previous two conference tournaments.
Nebraska went on a 15-0 run to turn a five-point deficit into a 61-51 lead with 1:30 remaining.
Isaiah Roby started it with a layup with 6:21 remaining and hit two free throws with four minutes left to put Nebraska back on top for the first time since the opening minutes of the half at 52-51.
Palmer then nailed a 3 and Roby drove for a neat scoop layup after a steal by Johnny Trueblood. Palmer then threw down a hard fast-break dunk, getting intentionally fouled from behind by Omoruyi, and Glynn Watson Jr. made two free throws to finish the run.
Nebraska: Palmer could probably use some help if the Cornhuskers are going to make a run in the conference tournament. No one else scored more than 11 points, and Nebraska shot just 40.4 percent while making 3 of 15 3-pointers.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights came up short down the stretch in this one after showing some promise during the regular season.
Nebraska: The Cornhuskers were swept by Maryland – 74-72 on the road on Jan. 2 and 60-45 at home on Feb. 6.
Rutgers: Season is likely over.