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Seated next to each other on Nebraska's bench, Isaac Copeland, Thomas Allen and Amir Harris got their work in Wednesday night.

That's two bad knees, a bad ankle and three of Nebraska's most talented players sitting on the sideline for a postseason game.

And yet, all three were off their chairs every time a Husker made a play against Butler. Up and down for 40 minutes. Hopping off the bench at timeouts to congratulate their teammates.

There certainly had to be some pain there — both physically and emotionally — for all three. You don't decide to play big-time college hoops with plans of getting hurt and sitting on the bench in the NIT.

But the actions of those three spoke to the larger narrative that has enveloped this team over the past two weeks. For the first time in awhile, Nebraska has a team of players sacrificing and playing for each other, and enjoying being together on the court.

"I would say I think it’s obvious even on the court. I think it’s a credit to guys like Johnny (Trueblood) bringing a spark to the team. They’re doing the dirty stuff — he’s getting offensive rebounds, and that’s going to spark our team," junior Isaiah Roby said Wednesday. "We’re playing with a different type of edge right now, and that’s what’s helping us win these games."

The question, and rightfully so, becomes where that edge was during the mid-January to early-March stretch that saw NU lose 11 of 13 games.

"Honestly, there’s this weight of expectation, there’s this disappointment, and you finally kind of get to the rock bottom. And then you bounce back. And you find small victories as a team, as a coaching staff, and build on from there," Nebraska coach Tim Miles said of the climb back to relevance. "And we tried to stay positive with them, stay aggressive, and never quit, and keep fighting. And that’s what we’ve done and that’s what the kids have embraced."

That's just part of what is probably a larger and more complicated answer than is worth delving into at this point. For now, the Huskers are enjoying the ride as they prepare for a Sunday night matchup at TCU in the second round of the NIT.

It continued Thursday when Roby, the day after delivering a career-high 28 points, took a photo with Nebraska native and "The Voice" runner-up Hannah Huston and put it on Twitter with the words "Co-presidents of the @herresjohnny (Trueblood's Twitter account) fan club".

Trueblood, who had gotten a shout-out from Huston at the Big Ten tournament, replied with a "Are you KIDDING me?!?!?"

Good times all around.

"I think the biggest thing is just what I said in Chicago (at the Big Ten tournament). You’ve got your three main guys (Glynn Watson, James Palmer, Isaiah Roby) that have accepted these role guys unconditionally," Miles said. "There’s a few mistakes here and there maybe one of those guys makes, and they don’t evaluate. They don’t judge. They know what their strengths are, and they work from a position of strength. So I think that’s really important, first of all.

"Second of all, the fearlessness of the guys on the bench. They’re coming into a new role and just embracing it. I think that’s important to do."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7436 or cbasnett@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.

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Husker basketball reporter

A Ravenna native, Chris covers the University of Nebraska men's basketball team and assists with football coverage. He spent nearly 10 years covering sports at the Kearney Hub and nearly four years at the Springfield News-Leader in Springfield, Mo.

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