Five months ago, the Nebraska men’s basketball team lost a home scrimmage to South Dakota State, which by ratings percentage index is now the nation’s 138th-place team. On Sunday, the Huskers clinched fourth place in the Big Ten and a first-round bye in this week’s league tournament by upsetting one of the country’s Top 10 teams. NU’s 77-68 victory over No. 9 Wisconsin in front of arguably the loudest crowd ever for basketball in Lincoln — a school-record 15,998 at Pinnacle Bank Arena — put the program in a spot unseen for 16 years: Within legitimate reach of an NCAA tournament bid. Are the Huskers, who have won 10 of 12 to get to 19-11 overall and 11-7 in the Big Ten, in? “Oh, sure,’’ said Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan, whose 25-6 team has an eight-game winning streak snapped. “That’s not even a question in my mind (when) you play like that in this league.’’ What say you, Nebraska coach Tim Miles? “First, it’s out of my control,’’ he said after surviving another court storming. “I think it’s a great win. I don’t think they’ve lost to anybody like us. “I think we’ve put together a pretty impressive run. I think anybody on the committee who watched that game would think, ‘Hey, they’re pretty good.’ ’’ “Pretty good’’ wasn’t part of the equation after the Huskers lost to South Dakota State 69-65 in that private scrimmage. Nor was it after a 1-2 Charleston Classic trip in which they gave up 96 and 87 points in the losses. Progress toward even “fairly good’’ was hard to see after a 1-5 start in the Big Ten that dropped NU’s overall record to 9-9. “You could kind of tell at the start of the season and at the start of the conference season we were all kind of on our own agendas,’’ sophomore co-captain Shavon Shields said. “We didn’t really know how to play with each other.’’ The perpetual losing hammered that point home enough that change followed. “We’re meshing now,’’ fellow co-captain Terran Petteway said. Added Shields: “Now, we’re playing off each other and for each other. We’ve really bought into the “Us Always.’’ What has pushed Nebraska into at least the pretty-good category has been extra-good performances like Shields and Petteway produced against Wisconsin. Shields scored 26 points, with 12 in the first half mostly on drives down the lane. Petteway also scored 26, with 17 of those in the second half, and added 10 rebounds. After Nebraska fell behind 52-48 with 9:13 to play, those two combined for 11 points over the next 6 1/2 minutes to help Nebraska reward the fans who, on “No-Sit Sunday,’’ remained true to that pledge.
Nebraska upsets No. 9 Wisconsin, 77-68
Omaha World-Herald | Mar 10