Published Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 12:01 am / Updated at 11:36 pm
BASKETBALL
Nittany Lions seeking their own breakthrough against Huskers
Nebraska at Penn State
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: Bryce Jordan Center, University Park, Pa.
TV: ESPNU
Radio: 1110 AM KFAB

Tough competition

NU's win over Ohio State on Monday ended a 15-game drought against ranked opponents since its 2012 victory over 11th-ranked Indiana.

No. 6 Ohio State, Jan. 21, 2012, L 79-45
No. 22 Michigan, Feb. 8, 2012, L 62-46
No. 6 Michigan St., Feb. 25, 2012, L 62-34
No. 16 Creighton, Dec. 6, 2012, L 64-42
No. 8 Ohio St., Jan. 2, 2013, L 70-44
No. 2 Michigan, Jan. 9, 2013, L 62-47
No. 22 Michigan St., Jan. 13, 2013, L 66-56
No. 23 Minnesota, Jan. 29, 2013, L 84-65
No. 11 Ohio St., Feb. 2, 2013, L 63-56
No. 1 Indiana, Feb. 9, 2013, L 76-47
No. 8 Michigan St., Feb. 16, 2013, L 73-64
No. 17 Wisconsin, Feb. 26, 2013, L 77-46
No. 10 Ohio St., March 15, 2013, L 71-50
No. 22 Iowa, Dec. 31, 2013, L 67-57
No. 3 Ohio St., Jan. 4, 2014, L 84-53
No. 17 Ohio St., Jan. 20, 2014, W 68-62

LINCOLN — Nebraska's upset of No. 17 Ohio State broke a two-year drought against ranked opponents, gave second-year coach Tim Miles his biggest win at NU and earned prime space on national TV highlight shows.

So how did Husker guard Terran Petteway celebrate?

“I went home and went to bed,” he said Wednesday. “I had school the next day. We're trying to rack up five or six wins in a row. We've got to move on.”

All the Huskers (9-8, 1-4) need to share that view because the road opponent Thursday night — Penn State — is itching for a breakthrough win of its own.

PSU (9-10, 0-6) is last in the Big Ten, but in reality is a few bounces away from being 3-3 in the league. The Nittany Lions:

Ľ Blew an eight-point lead in the second half against Minnesota and lost 68-65 after going 2 of 8 on free throws down the stretch.

Ľ Coughed up a 15-point first-half lead against Indiana, then forced seven second-half ties before falling 79-76.

Ľ Held a three-point lead with 10 seconds to play at Purdue, but fell 65-64 after a controversial foul call with 1.1 seconds left.

“Believe it or not, our staff is extremely excited at the direction this team is headed,” Penn State associate head coach Keith Urgo said from State College, Pa.

“Slowly but surely, you can see our guys are starting to trust each other more. We've gotten better every week. Statistically, that shows. I truly believe this is about to happen any minute.”

Sounds like a lot of the same things Miles said about Nebraska when it was on a five-game skid before the Ohio State game. And with Penn State having only NU on its schedule this week, Miles knows the difficulty ahead.

Nebraska will need to contain Penn State point guard Tim Frazier. Last year, the 6-foot-1 senior from Houston tore an Achilles tendon in the fourth game and sat out the rest as a medical redshirt.

When Frazier faced the Huskers two years ago, he was electrifying.

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He had 23 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in a 67-51 PSU home win. In Lincoln, he scored a career-high 30 points, but Nebraska won 70-58.

“Frazier gets them on the attack,” Miles said. “Against Ohio State when we were on the attack, we had some really good driving lines and were really aggressive. He gives Penn State that element.”

Miles said he was pleased to get widespread contributions against Ohio State, citing Petteway, Shavon Shields, Tai Webster and David Rivers. Across-the-board help must continue, especially with three games in the next eight days.

“When you win — and I know it had been a month — you want to keep playing,” Miles said. “The last thing you want is to sit around.”

Notes: Penn State has better statistical marks than Nebraska in field goals (45.1 percent to 43.2 percent), free throws (73.9 percent to 71.4 percent), 3-pointers per game (6.9 to 5.5), rebounding (35.5 to 33.8), assists (12.5 to 9.9) and turnovers (10.5 to 11.1). ... Husker senior walk-on guard Mike Peltz has been placed on scholarship this semester. NU had one grant available this season. ... Nebraska must take Friday as a day off, then will have only one day to prepare for Sunday's home game with Minnesota, the only Big Ten team that uses full-court, high-pressure defense.

Contact the writer: Lee Barfknecht

lee.barfknecht@owh.com    |   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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