The Nebraska men's basketball team, acting like it had won games like these before, had no postgame celebration on the court. “That’s the way you have to approach it,” Husker sophomore Walter Pitchford said. Inside the locker room was a different story. “It was fun to see those guys with their arms around each other, really celebrating,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said on his postgame radio show. “You’ll see it on the 'Nebraska Basketball Show' next week.” And probably some highlights of Nebraska’s first true road victory against a top-10 team in 17 years, too. Terran Petteway scored 23 points, Pitchford added 18, and Nebraska stunned No. 9 Michigan State 60-51 on Sunday in East Lansing, Mich. Nebraska (14-10, 6-6 Big Ten) snapped a 21-game losing streak in true road games against ranked teams, dating to a 2008 victory at Texas A&M. The Huskers’ last win against a top-10 team on the road was Feb. 22, 1997, at Iowa State. Picked in October to finish last in the Big Ten Conference, Nebraska is .500 in conference play for the first time since joining the Big Ten three seasons ago. The Huskers play four of their final six games at Pinnacle Bank Arena, where they’re 11-1, and suddenly have signs of life for ending their NCAA Tournament drought, which dates to 1998. “I asked the guys, I said, ‘Was that fun?’” Miles said. “That’s what college basketball is supposed to feel like. It was a really neat win. I’m really proud of the kids. We stuck with it.” Pitchford, a Grand Rapids, Mich., native, opened the game with a three-pointer, and Nebraska jumped to a 13-4 lead. “They had the eye of the tiger,” Miles said. “They were ready to compete from the get-go.” Michigan State rallied for leads of 15-13, 17-15 and 20-18, but Pitchford scored five straight points, including a three-pointer, and Nebraska never trailed again. “They hang in there with each other, don’t let frustration set in, which can easily happen on the road with a young team,” Miles said. “I always say togetherness is greater than frustration. If we can just do it together and hang together and support each other … that sounds a little corny, but it’s really a big part of these guys’ success.” Pitchford ended the first half with a three-pointer and opened the second half with four straight points, as Nebraska took its biggest lead of 11 points. Michigan State, led by Gary Harris with 18 points, cut the deficit to 51-49 with 4 minutes to play on a shot inside by Adreian Payne. But with the shot clock winding down, Petteway stepped back and hit a three-pointer, his fourth of the game, with 2:30 remaining. “He’s extremely effective at the end of a shot clock,” Miles said. “The last time I checked, he was 57 percent from beyond the arc in the last 5 seconds of a shot clock, and I think he’s above 50 percent in the two games I haven’t even checked the stats.” Harris hit two free throws to keep the Spartans within 54-51, put Petteway scored a layup in transition with 1:09 remaining, and the Huskers were never threatened in the final minute. Michigan State (21-5, 10-3) had a chance to move into sole possession of first place in the Big Ten, with Michigan’s loss earlier in the day to Wisconsin, but lost for the third time at home this season. “We got what we deserved and the only guy that takes the blame for that is me. ... Nebraska was junkyard dogs,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.
Huskers stun No. 9 Michigan State, 60-51
Lincoln Journal Star | Feb 17