Published Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 9:31 pm / Updated at 2:13 pm
BASKETBALL
Huskers turn nightmare into a victory

LINCOLN — Needed: one work order at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Site: Nebraska men’s basketball locker room.

Reason for repair: head coach Tim Miles’ halftime speech Thursday night. It was a paint-peeler.

After seeing his team fall behind by 16 points late in the first half, Miles let his players have it. They, in turn, let Indiana have it by rallying for a 60-55 victory in front of 15,107 jumping-for-joy fans.

The outcome, four days after a win over Minnesota, gives the Huskers (11-9, 3-5) their first back-to-back victories since joining the Big Ten three years ago.
NU, with three wins in the past four games, is in a four-way tie for seventh place.

“We beat Ohio State. That’s a great brand,” Miles said. “We beat Indiana. That’s a great brand win. We beat Minnesota, which I think is a really good team. And we were one inch away from beating Michigan.

“So I think we are at least establishing ourselves as a pretty good home team and a tough out.”

Nebraska’s stars Thursday down the stretch — Terran Petteway, who led all scorers with 18 points, and Shavon Shields, who had 11 points, four assists and four steals — looked to the floor and smiled sheepishly when asked about Miles’ halftime oratory.

“He wasn’t happy,” Shields said.

Any paint left on the walls?

“A little bit,” Shields said.

Was the pile of first-half turnovers mentioned?

“Let’s see,” Shields mused. “What didn’t he say at halftime is a better question.”

The first half was a Nebraska nightmare — down 32-19 at the break, and it was only that close because Petteway escaped for a 3-point play with 1:41 to go.

It was the fewest points in a half this season. The previous low was 22 against Miami. There were more turnovers (11) than field goals (8). And the rebounding deficit was 20-8.

“So I challenged them,” Miles said, after declining to recite his speech verbatim because his mother watches his postgame interviews.

“I told them I thought they were tentative. And that we couldn’t be or we would lose. We were getting killed on the boards, we were turning the ball over ... we were standing around like we didn’t even know what sport we were playing.”

Nebraska’s problems resulted from a crafty defensive wrinkle by Indiana (13-8, 3-5).

The Hoosiers changed defenses frequently, at times playing man-to-man and zone in the same possession. They also disguised a matchup zone to look like a triangle-and-two.

“The first half, we weren’t on the attack the way we should have been,” Petteway said. “Like Penn State, they threw a lot of defenses at us and we stopped attacking.”

Nebraska’s offense ground to a halt for two long periods in the first half — scoreless spells of 5:09 and 5:35. The second of those allowed Indiana to build a 32-16 lead with 2:00 to go.

“But the second half,” Petteway said, “we got our composure back. And that’s when we made our run.”

The Huskers scored on their first six possessions of the second half to cut Indiana’s lead to 40-36. After forcing ties at 43 and 46, NU took its first lead since it was 7-4 when Shields hit two free throws with 6:57 to go.

That brought the roar of the night from the PBA fans.

“They’ve been great, especially now that the conference season has started,” Shields said. “We feed off them. The place gets rocking in here, I’m not going to lie.

“When we make plays, it just gets louder and louder. It got super loud tonight.”

The noise continued after forward Walter Pitchford hit a 3-pointer off a Petteway assist. Shields followed with another basket, and Petteway nailed a fadeaway 3 with 2:03 left for a 56-50 lead. Indiana never got within one possession with the ball again.

Hoosiers coach Tom Crean said his team lost “defensive awareness” in the second half.

“There is a certain way (Nebraska) wants to play,” he said. “The first half, we did a pretty good job of taking that away. The second half, we allowed them to get too comfortable on the perimeter.”

Nebraska hit 6 of 11 3s in the second half compared to 2 of 8 in the first.

“We worked hard for a couple of days (on our plan) and reviewed it again at halftime,” Crean said. “We didn’t want to get ‘off’ their shooters. We wanted to extend more than usual.

“When you have shooters like they have ... they made some big shots, and we just weren’t as aware.”

* * *

Video: Highlights from Nebraska-Indiana

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.

Read more related stories
PHOTO GALLERY AND VIDEO »

 

< >
SPOTLIGHT »
2013 college football preview
View our 2013 college football preview, a 26-page, three-part section filled with coverage of the Huskers, Big Ten conference and more.
Big Red Bowl Retrospective
See complete historical results, game recaps and photo coverage from the Nebraska Cornhuskers college football bowl game appearances, from the 1941 Rose Bowl up to today.
Big Ten football recruits
The World-Herald's Big Ten recruiting database contains every football recruit that signed with a Big Ten school from 2002 to 2011, complete with color-coded interactive map representations, player information, high-concentrations recruiting clusters and more.
Devaney Center timeline
Check out a World-Herald timeline to see the evolution of memorable moments at the Devaney Center, complete with photos, videos, memorable quotes and more.
Follow OWHbigred on Twitter
Looking for the latest Husker sports news from The Omaha World-Herald and Omaha.com? Follow us on Twitter!
Husker scholarship distribution chart
Want to see how many scholarships NU has invested at each position? Wondering how the Huskers have appropriated their offers by class? Check out our handy chart to look further into how Bo Pelini has built his team.
Husker Signing Day 2013
The World-Herald's top-notch coverage of the Nebraska football's class of 2013, complete with videos, photos, articles, live recruit interviews, interactive components and more.
Husker turnovers: A slippery slope
Bo Pelini has coached 68 games at Nebraska. When NUís turnover margin is positive or even, the Huskers are 35-2. When they lose the turnover battle, theyíre 13-18. Why hasnít Nebraska joined the nationís elite? More than anything, itís turnovers.
Interactive: Bo Pelini's contract
View an interactive PDF of Pelini's revised contract signed by the NU football coach, complete with brief summaries of the legalese and insight into the document's finer points.
Interactive: Darin Erstad's contract (2012)
View an interactive PDF of NU baseball coach Darin Erstad's contract released in August 2012, complete with brief summaries of the legalese and insight into the document's finer points.
Interactive: Tim Miles' contract
View an interactive PDF of Tim Miles' contract signed by the Nebraska men's basketball coach on May 4, 2012, complete with brief legal explanations, comparisons to other Big Ten coaches and more.
Omaha.com's Big Ten coverage
Delivering the best news coverage and analysis of the Big Ten Conference, from Omaha.com and other top news outlets from around country.
Husker Recruiting: Changes shrink NU's sphere of influence
For decades, the Great Plains represented fertile recruiting ground for Tom Osborne's football program. Restoring that lost tradition won't be easy.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
The Jaipur in Rockbrook Village
Half Off Fine Indian Cuisine & Drinks! $15 for Dinner, or $7 for Lunch
Buy Now
BRT ON TWITTER »
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT »
< >