Published Friday, November 22, 2013 at 1:09 pm / Updated at 11:54 pm
UAB rallies past Husker men

CHARLESTON, S.C. — So much for fun in the sun for the Nebraska men’s basketball team.

The Huskers fell to 0-2 in the Charleston Classic on Friday, losing 87-74 to Alabama-Birmingham after allowing the appropriately named Blazers to shoot 82.6 percent (19 of 23) in the second half.

The weather forecast for Saturday is 75 degrees and the tournament schedule calls for an off day, but it will be anything but a leisurely time for NU (3-2).

“We’re going to work,” an unsmiling coach Tim Miles said. “We can’t accept this.”

The first three things Nebraska will work on to prepare for Sunday’s 2:30 p.m., seventh-place game are defense, defense and defense.

The Huskers played it pretty well in the first half, holding UAB (4-1) to 32.3 percent (10 of 31) and building a 34-31 lead. Nebraska even forced an 11th turnover to start the second half.

From there, the Blazers scored on 29 of 34 possessions — 56 points, including 21 of guard Chad Frazier’s 32 in the final 20 minutes.

“I thought we looked defeated at the end of the game,” Miles said. “I thought we looked like, ‘I can’t believe we let this happen to us.’ ”

It won’t be that big a surprise when the Huskers dissect the film.

“We lack discipline,” Miles said. “We get going fast mentally. We just don’t have all five guys on the same page, almost ever in the second half. It’s been a real disappointing two days in the second half.”

In the final 20 minutes of Thursday’s 96-90 loss to Massachusetts, NU gave up 54 points on 58.6 percent shooting.

“Both games here, we’ve had terrible second halves,” said Husker forward Shavon Shields, who had 11 points and five rebounds. “It’s hard to win when you only stop a team once or twice in the whole half.”

Nebraska boosted its halftime lead to 37-31 on a three-point play from forward Terran Petteway, who led NU with 21 points.

Then things got ugly.

“The last two games, we did the same thing in the second half,” Petteway said. “We have come out kind of tentative.”

Nebraska kept scoring for most of the second half. Even after UAB claimed the lead for good at 51-50 with 13:38 to play, the Huskers were still within five points with 4:38 to go.

But UAB’s Frazier, a junior college transfer who strongly considered Oklahoma State, kept NU down. The 6-foot-4, 190-pounder had 32 points, seven assists and one turnover. On Thursday, he burned No. 19 New Mexico for 34 points.

“We just weren’t containing him,” Shields said. “Things we know how to do, we weren’t executing them. And when that happens, a good guard like that can have a great game.”

UAB’s second-leading scorer — Fahro Alihodzic with 16 — will be familiar to rabid Husker fans. The 6-10 senior signed a letter of intent with Nebraska in November 2011, but was released when NU changed coaches the next spring.

“This is all very disappointing,” Petteway said. “Both games we lost here, everybody on this team feels like we could have won. It’s growing pains. We’ve got to get through them.”

Miles said he’ll spend the next 24 to 36 hours reviewing practice plans and lineup combinations to change course. But something else is eating at him.

“I just don’t believe the ‘buy in’ is completely there,” the coach said. “We still get guys worrying about how many shots they’ve got.

“It’s going to take time for this group. They are strong, rugged, competitive kids. To get them all on the same page is my job, and that’s what we’re going to get to work on.”

Contact the writer: Lee Barfknecht    |   402-444-1024    |  

Lee Barfknecht has won nine national writing awards from four separate organizations, and is a 12-time winner of the Nebraska sportswriter of the year award. He covers Big Ten football and basketball, Nebraska basketball and other college financial issues for The World-Herald.



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