LINCOLN — Welcome back, Shavon Shields. You, too, Terran Petteway.
Your presence and productivity Monday night helped the Nebraska men's basketball team snap a 15-game losing string against ranked opponents and gave second-year coach Tim Miles his biggest win as a Husker, 68-62 over No. 17 Ohio State.
The Buckeyes, who earlier this month were 15-0 and ranked No. 3 nationally, thrashed NU by 31 points (84-53) just 16 days ago.
No wonder much of the student section in the Pinnacle Bank Arena sellout crowd of 15,342 stormed the court. They needed some emotional rescue after seeing the Huskers build a 14-point lead in the first half, fall behind by a point with 5:55 to play, then recover with a 16-5 surge.
Nebraska's best salute came from Aaron Craft, Ohio State's first-team All-Big Ten point guard.
“You've got to give them credit,'' said Craft, who finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and three assists. “We made a big run and got the lead.
“It would have been easy for them to die, and they didn't.”
That brings the story back to Nebraska's two sophomore co-captains: Shields, who had 18 points and nine rebounds, and Petteway, who had 18 points, five rebounds and another number we'll get to later.
The “welcome back'' for Shields is because he's back at full speed. While playing hurt (knee strain) during NU's five-game losing streak, he scored just 5.0 points a game while shooting 24 percent.
Against Ohio State, Shields hit 6 of 12 shots, 5 of 6 free throws and nailed a 3-pointer.
“That's the Shavon I know,'' Petteway said. “He played his butt off, man. I'm glad he's back now. I hope that guy stays.''
Nebraska (9-8, 1-4) had downplayed Shields' recent struggles, but Miles admitted that fresh legs for the first time in two weeks led to better play from his 6-foot-7 forward.
Shields had seven points in a 16-1 first-half surge that put Nebraska up 34-20. He scored NU's only basket in a miserable 10-possession stretch to start the second half. And he drew a charging foul on Craft with 1:55 to play and the Huskers holding a four-point lead.
“Determination,'' Miles said. “Nobody was going to stop him. We don't win this game without him.''
Shields never doubted the outcome, even after the Huskers lost their double-digit lead.
“The thing we talked about all week was attitude,” he said. “How can I be a better player? How can I be a better teammate? We came together.”
Petteway's “welcome back” involved getting his game in order after a forgettable first 25 minutes in which he had more turnovers (8) than points, assists and steals combined (5).
Miles quipped that instead of an invitation for interviews, Petteway should have been invited to the gym for extra running. “I'm going to get him a toothbrush,'' the coach said, “and have him go clean my office.''
But it paid off for Miles to put his leading scorer and playmaker back in the game after an early second-half benching.
When Ohio State (15-4, 2-4) took its first lead since early in the game at 38-36 on Craft's basket with 14:43 to go, Petteway responded with a short jumper and a 3-pointer on consecutive possessions.
With Nebraska's lead at 49-47, Petteway's layup with 2:22 left provided some cushion. He added four free throws and another basket in the final 1:54.
The turnover cluster, Petteway said, required “a short memory.''
“That hurt,'' he said. “I was sitting on the bench, and my teammates were picking me up. Eight turnovers stick in your mind.
“But I had to forget about it. I had to come back and help my team late in the game.''
The victory was Nebraska's first over a ranked foe since a Doc Sadler team defeated No. 11 Indiana on Jan. 18, 2012. Miles' record against Top 25 opponents at NU before Monday was 0-12 with an average margin of defeat of 19 points.
So how will Miles celebrate? By returning to work.
“We've got three games this week,'' he said, noting Thursday at Penn State and Sunday at home with Minnesota. “There's no time to enjoy it.”
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Video: Nebraska defeats Ohio State
Video: Nebraska fans storm the court