Bad days happen, even to good teams, during a long basketball season.

“I’ve been a head coach 19 seasons,” Nebraska’s Tim Miles said Friday, “and the one thing I’m always surprised by is how much motivating and inspiring you have to do in February and March.

“It’s such a grind and such a long haul. Everybody is playing hurt. And there are a lot of outside distractions and pressures on the guys.”

So how do you fix it? Make sure you limit bad days — especially when they come on a game day — to one in a row.

The next chance for Nebraska (16-11, 8-7) to do that and stay in the NCAA tournament conversation is Saturday at home against Northwestern (12-16, 5-10). The Huskers beat the Wildcats 53-49 Feb. 8.

Film study from Wednesday’s 60-49 loss at Illinois helped set a tone for Thursday’s practice, Miles said.

“Guys were disappointed in our effort,” he said. “Illinois did to us what we’ve been doing to other teams. They outscrapped us. Two-thirds of their points were off what I would call hustle plays.”

Miles wryly noted that he made “full use” of the allotted practice time Thursday and planned to do the same Friday. One point of emphasis has been letting go of frustration from the loss.

“If frustration sets in on you, you’re beat,” Miles said. “We talked about that going into Northwestern (the first time) and going into Michigan State. And then against Penn State, even when we were up 27, I thought we were starting to get frustrated.”

That led to a postgame chewing, even after winning by 13.

“Then we played really well against Purdue, and we thought the message got through,” Miles said. “But as soon as it was tough again, that frustration set in. We’ve got to be careful against Northwestern.”

Among the Huskers most frustrated at the loss to Illinois was sophomore Terran Petteway.

The 6-foot-6 guard finished with 13 points, but missed 13 of his first 14 shots and didn’t attack the basket like usual. Still, he enters the weekend as the Big Ten’s leading scorer at 18.2 points a game.

On Friday, Petteway noted NU had a poor practice the day before facing Illinois, and said it can’t happen again.

“At this point in the season, we’re playing for something bigger than ourselves,” he said. “Bigger than anything Nebraska has seen in like the last 17 years. So we’ve got to come ready to go.”