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January 20, 2014

Huskers pull off 68-62 upset over No. 17 Ohio St.



The final minute may have felt like an eternity for Nebraska head coach Tim Miles, but the feeling when the final horn sounded and the Huskers had officially knocked off No. 17 Ohio State 68-62 on Monday night made all of the stress well worth it.

Despite seeing a 14-point lead evaporate early in the second half, Nebraska (9-8 overall, 1-4 Big Ten) was able to pull together and notch its first conference victory of the season by holding off a Buckeye squad that has now dropped its past four games. Sophomores Shavon Shields and Terran Petteway both put up a game-high 18 points to lead the Huskers to their first win over a top-25 team since Indiana in 2011-12 and first victory over Ohio State since Dec. 30, 1985.

"We played as a team and played for each other," Shields said. "We did a really good job of moving the ball and getting to the rim, and we played for a full 40 minutes besides two lapses in the first and second half. That was the main thing: we played as a team and put a full 40 minutes together finally."

Playing in front of a nearly packed house of 15,342 - the second-largest NU home crowd ever - Nebraska came out ready to play from the opening tip and went blow for blow with the Buckeyes through the first 14 minutes of the first half. The complexion of the half changed in a big way after Shields was fouled, had his shot goal tended by OSU and made the ensuing free throw to put the Huskers up 21-19 with 7:06 remaining.

That play sparked a 16-1 run that saw the Buckeyes go nearly six minutes without a field goal and put NU up by a commanding 34-20 lead with just over two minutes left before halftime. Nebraska let the momentum it had built up from the run cool off a bit in the last two minutes, though, as Ohio State responded with five unanswered points to cut the deficit to 34-25 going into the second half. Still, it was an overall solid performance on both ends for the Huskers, as they shot 55.6 percent from the floor, out-rebounded OSU 18-12 and held a 26-6 advantage in the paint.

As good as the game started for Nebraska, the second half was a completely different story. The Huskers turned the ball over on seven of their first nine possessions to allow Ohio State to open the half on a 13-2 run and take its first lead since the seven-minute mark of the first half at 38-36. Petteway would finally stop the bleeding with five straight points to put NU back on top, but another six-minute scoring drought would see the Buckeyes reclaim the lead with six minutes remaining.

Needing someone to step up and make a play, junior point guard Deverell Biggs, who had 11 points off the bench, came up with one of the biggest when he stole the ball from OSU star point guard Aaron Craft at mid-court and took it all the way for a layup to give the Huskers a 47-46 advantage with 4:42 remaining.

Nebraska would not trail the rest of the night from that point on, as the Huskers took care of business at the charity stripe by hitting 13 of their final 14 free throws to counter a couple late Buckeye 3-pointers and secure the upset.

Freshman point guard Tai Webster had nine points while Craft led Ohio State with 12 points despite shooting just 2-of-5 from the field. Nebraska out-rebounded OSU 33-27, which helped make up for 17 turnovers, including eight by Petteway. As big as the win was for the Huskers, Miles said his team couldn't celebrate too long seeing how they have two games in the next six days with a road trip to Penn State on Wednesday night and then at home against Minnesota on Sunday.

"That's what coach always talks about, just staying with the process," Petteway said. "We stayed with it all week, and we got the monkey off our back. We're going to enjoy this moment, but we've got to get ready tomorrow for Penn State. That's not going to be an easy game on the road. We've got to get them in bunches."

For Miles, even when his was riding a five-game losing streak going into Monday night's game, he said he never feared that Nebraska's season was beginning to unravel.

"I've been 0-16. I've lost a lot worse than this," Miles said. "No, I don't worry about these guys unraveling. I don't worry about this team unraveling. This is a tough league. This is a difficult thing we're involved in… We just know we have to continue to get better and have an attitude of being a better player, being a better teammate; I'm going to be a better coach every day, and if we can stick with that process I think we'll be OK."


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