Pinnacle Bank Arena’s 12th man found it’s voice Monday as Nebraska controlled the paint and pulled off the court-storming 68-62 upset over 15th-ranked Ohio State.
The crowd volume reached new heights as Nebraska built a 14-point lead in the first half, thanks to out-scoring the Buckeyes 26-6 in the paint before the break. The Huskers overcame another bout of scoring droughts and turnovers with some staunch scoring defense of their own, winning the rebound battle 33-27. The return of a healthy Shavon Shields made the difference though, Terran Petteway said.
“I’ve seen the old version,” he said. “That’s the Shavon I know.”
Shields and Petteway each finished the night with team-leading 18 points. Shields pulled in nine of Nebraska’s 33 rebounds, besting all of his teammates by at least four boards.
The Buckeyes started the scoring drought trend, giving up a 13-0 Husker run late in the first half before going on a 5-0 run of their own to end the half, cutting Nebraska’s lead to 34-29. The Buckeyes came out of the break with 13 points in the first five minutes, taking the lead, which jockeyed back and forth until the game’s final minutes.
“We were really focusing on coming out like we have in the past in the second half, just keeping our foot on the gas, keep playing the game with the same intensity that we started the game with,” Petteway said. “We came back out with stops and we got to the rim.”
Petteway and Shields both shot .500 or better from the field – a credit coach Tim Miles gave to to his health after an eight-day break.
“He’s so determined,” Miles said. “His legs were fresher. He had been beat up. He was playing hurt, and he wouldn’t tell you that…you could just see, he looked more fresh physically.”
Petteway’s sour note of the night came in the turnover column; the sophomore forward committed a game-high eight.
“You’ve got to have a short memory,” Petteway said. “I mean, that hurt.”
Turnovers contributed to Nebraska’s two big scoring droughts, and the longer of two lasted more than six minutes.
“They were like, ‘listen, we’re Ohio State and we’re gonna exert our will,’” Miles said. “Their will is defensive pressure. They’re not a very big team. We know they’re not gonna kill you on the glass, but they will exert their will defensively and disrupt you.”
Nebraska’s defense held the Buckeye offense with two scoring droughts as well, the longest of which lasted more than four crucial minutes in the second half. During that time, Nebraska took back a 47-46 lead after a key steal by Deverell Biggs that ended in a fast-break layup.
Just inside the four-minute mark, Nebraska grabbed a lead that it didn’t relinquish for the rest of the game.
“That was the main thing, we played as a team and put a full 40 minutes together finally,” Shields said.
After the game, an Ohio State newspaper reporter described Buckeyes guard Aaron Craft and the rest of the team as “dumbstruck” during their post-game interview session. For the second time in as many years following his trips to Lincoln, Ohio State coach Thad Matta gave a post-game nod to the crowd during interviews.
“Great crowd, phenomenal crowd,” he said. “It was an electric environment, no question about it.”
“I swear to god, I don’t think I’ve ever stood in this building and thought we were gonna lose a game so far,” he said.