Nebraska Cruises in Season Opener

Posted By: Sports

sports@klkntv.com

Story Courtesy: Nebraska Athletics

Lincoln – All-Big Ten performer Terran Petteway had a game-high 25 points, including six 3-pointers, lifting No. 21 Nebraska to an 80-61 win over Northern Kentucky in the season opener at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

While Petteway, who connected on 6-of-9 from long range, showed an improved shooting stroke from long distance, it was the efforts and efficiency of David Rivers and Shavon Shields early on who got the Huskers going after a bumpy start.

Shields finished with 18 points, hitting all four shots from the field and going a perfect 10-of-10 from the line, while Rivers connected on all five of his shots from the field en route to scoring 12 points and grabbing six caroms.

The Huskers struggled from the floor early on, missing seven of its first eight field goal attempts to fall behind 8-2 in the opening four minutes before the veterans took over. The pair combined for points in a decisive 16-4 run to take an 18-12 lead after a Shields basket at the 12 minute mark.

Northern Kentucky, which is 0-2 on the season including Friday’s loss at Wisconsin, got to within 21-18 after a Cole Murray 3-pointer before the Huskers found their touch from long distance. Petteway’s 3-pointer with 10:57 left in the half was NU’s first make after six straight misses and jump started a 9-0 run from 3-point range, as the Huskers took a 27-15 lead after a Pitchford 3-pointer.

Petteway had 16 of his 25 points in the first half, as Nebraska closed the half by hitting five of its last seven 3-pointers to push the lead to 45-30 at the break.

Northern Kentucky cut a 17-point deficit to 49-38 after an Anthony Monaco 3-pointer with 16:40 left, but would get no closer, as the Huskers took command with a 16-6 surge to push the advantage to 21, at 65-44 with 10:10 left after six straight points from Shields.

Tayler Persons led Northern Kentucky with 13 points, while Monaco added 12 points, but the Norse connected on just 36 percent shooting from the floor.

The Huskers will return to action Tuesday night, as they host Central Arkansas. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. and the game will be carried on the Husker Sports Network and on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app. A limited number of tickets, beginning at $7 are available at Huskers.com or by calling 800-8-BIGRED.

Postgame Notes
*-Nebraska improved to 80-39 all-time in season openers and has won 14 straight dating back to the 2001-02 season.
*-Terran Petteway finished with a game-high 25 points, his 13th career game of at least 20 points. Petteway also had a career-high six 3-pointers, topping his previous best of four set most recently against Minnesota on Jan. 26, 2014.
*-David Rivers with 12 points, his highest total since scoring 13 against Ohio State on Feb. 2, 2013. Rivers had one game in double-figures as a junior. He went 5-of-5 from the field and added six rebounds in 27 minutes.
*-Today’s attendance of 15,479 ranked seventh in school history and is the largest season-opener crowd in school history
*-Nebraska has now won 10 straight games at Pinnacle Bank Arena dating back to last January and improves to 8-0 all-time against non-conference opponents at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
*-Nebraska improved to 35-18 as a ranked team, as today’s game was the first since the 1994-95 season that Nebraska has been ranked at game time.
*-Shavon Shields finished 10-of-10 from the foul line, the third time in his career he has shot at least 10-of-10 or better from the foul line. Shields finished with 18 points on just 4-of-4 shooting.

Nebraska Head Coach Tim Miles
On free throws
“I think the right guys were on the line. We have been trying to work on them. But I feel like, you get the right guys on the line and then they are kind of catchy. Like if you start missing them, everybody starts missing them and vice versa.”

On the game overall
“It is a learning experience. I thought we defended okay, but because we didn’t rebound defensively good enough, and that really hurt our defense. We held them fairly well, under a point a possession, which we should. We got some of the nerves out of the guys. We did alright. I honestly liked the way they played. I remember their coach when he played at Viterbo (college) and they are a very good team. They ran some swing; they are very physical. Their kid, number two (Taylor Parsons), I really like him. He just created opportunities and engaged physically. And that is something I didn’t think our fives did at all tonight. I didn’t think Walter or Mosses engaged all that much the way they needed to, and that has to change if we want to play the way we want to. Now Walter did a good job, Walter did respond after we talked about it in a time out. I thought he really responded.”

On the offensive efficiency
“I always look at the assist to point thing. And those numbers were better. We had 10 turnovers and four of them were either a charge or illegal screen. I think we only had five ball handling errors. The one thing we do need to get squared away is when other teams go under and we are rolling, why is that a foul? I need to talk to the officials about that, to make sure we can do what we think we can. A lot of it I thought were natural movements that I thought were fine. I think we lost three of those or more.”

On David Rivers
“David was really good energy wise. So we started down 8-2 and Benny [Parker] comes and gets a steal right away. And it is the same two guys, the glue guys. And yes, Shavon and Terran we need those guys, but to get us going in the right direction it is those glue guys and you have to have everybody out there firing and everybody has a critical role. And I thought David was really good with activity and just doing a great job. David has improved and I think he is better. I thought Benny did a nice job too. I thought Benny and Tai had wide open shots and they were dropping their heads every time. And I said look all you can control is your routine and it is a closed skill when you are open. Sometimes you just have to let the wheel go, you are either going to make it or miss it. And you have to understand that as a competitor. I think sometimes the guys get their head down a little too much.”

On offensive rebounding
“I don’t think we rebounded well at all, that was very disappointing, but we will bounce back from that. Let’s just face it, rebounding is a decision. Blocking out is a decision. We practice it, but it has to be a mental decision that you have to make. That is the frustrating part of why we are not committed to it.”

On Tarin Smith’s game and future minutes
“I thought overall though, Tarin did a nice job. I thought he created for others. I thought he was on the attack, he defended alright. He didn’t gamble like he did in the exhibition game. I think he has gotten better in these last 10 days since we last played. And we need that from him. I was not satisfied from our post play. Something better has to happen with our post play.”

Senior Forward David Rivers and Junior Forward Terran Petteway
General thoughts of the game
Petteway: “I felt like we played better than we did in the exhibition game. That’s what we were building on. We were better on the defensive end. We kind of locked down. We gave up too many three’s, but I felt it was a better game on the defensive end.”

On Terran’s 3-point shot improvements
Petteway: “It’s feeling pretty good but last game if you saw it, it wasn’t feeling too good. I was like seven for 20 or something like that, but that’s what I’ve been working on all summer, knocking shots down like that and extending my range so it felt pretty good.”

On what offensive improvements were made from the opener
Petteway: “It was patience. In the exhibition game, we were forcing things, not taking what the defense was giving us so we were patient today and that’s why we put up those points.”

Rivers: “I thought we moved the ball well, played together. The motion movement without the ball was good too, and like Terran said, we were patient. That was key.”

On his performance
Rivers: “I think it went alright. There’s always some things I can get better at, and we just have to turn around, look at the film and get better from it.

On Tarin Smith’s pass to Terran Petteway on the baseline
Petteway: “We actually have a drill like that. We work on that in practice all the time so I knew where he was going. If a man sinks down like he did to the guy that was in the corner, we kick it to the guy on the wing so we kind of work on that but it was still impressive though how he did it.”

On how Tarin Smith is fitting in
Petteway: “He’s fitting in good. He got a lot of minutes today so that’s good. It’s going to help build his confidence for these games that we have coming up so I’m excited to see him in the rotation a little more.”

On if he thinks they will be a higher scoring team this year
Petteway: “To tell you the truth, I really don’t know. All we would really like and what we’ve been working on this off season is defense. We haven’t really been putting all our focus on offense, really just being the best defensive team we can be.”

On the team’s rebounding
Petteway: “That’s something we really have to get better at. We gave up 15 offensive boards to those guys and that just can’t happen. If we want to be the team we want to be this year, we have to get better at that aspect.”

On what Coach Miles said to Terran after air ball before hitting a three on the same possession
Petteway: “In the timeout, he told me to take a better shot than the first one. The first one was a terrible shot, and I knew it. He let me have it a little bit. That’s all he really said.”

Northern Kentucky Head Coach Dave Bezold

Opening Statement

“I thought our energy was tremendous, especially at the start of the game. At Wisconsin, I think the pace of the game had a lot to do with us looking sloppy. Tonight, I felt like we were really, really competitive and again, I thought we had some very positive things happen out on the floor. But some things that happened from some of the guys in the program that have been here for awhile just cannot happen in big moments. There was a point where they had 19 points off our turnovers. You can’t have that. We had careless live-ball turnovers that are really costly. We had a lot of careless fouls, too. We fouled a jump-shooter like four times tonight which has been one of our point of emphasis in practice. We just have to be able to take stuff to the floor and be a lot stronger mentally. You can’t win in a tough environment against a good team when you give away things like that. Heck, if we stop fouling jump shooters that could be like 25 points right there.”

On offensive looks

“I felt like we had better ball movement and pace in the game. Our passing was good for the most part, and our screening is a lot better. Again, I thought Jalen (Billups) did pretty well and attacked really well. We are still way undersized, but we have to have confidence inside and make some of those shots that we missed tonight. I think the two areas that I was most disappointed in were turnovers and the free throw shooting. I felt that at one time, we were shooting like 17 percent (from the foul line), so if we correct some of those things, we can be able to beat a good basketball team.”

On Terran Petteway, other NU players & new Norse players

“Well with Petteway, he goes 6-9 from three and he is about a 27 to 30 percent three point shooter, so he had a great night. If you look at Rivers and Shields—they were perfect. They were 9-9 combined with all those free throws, those are the reasons why the game gets stretched out.

Again, for our guys, I thought Tayler Persons had some really good moments where he was tough with the basketball and he is doing a really good job for a freshman. There are still some things that he is going to figure out and needs to be better at. Across the board, we had some good stretches but then when it seemed like to be right there, to get under 10 or 12 points we would foul a jump shooter or not make our free throws or turn the ball over. So if you look up and instead of seeing 10 or eight points all of a sudden it is 15-17 points. It is a lot easier for them to shoot when they are up that much rather than when it is within 10.”

On transitioning to D1—playing all road games until usually January until now, getting to go home and play a home game

“That is exactly what we talked about in the locker room. Tonight is going to be a quick turnaround, we will get home at midnight and then we have to go to school in the morning and have practice at 7 a.m. It is going to be very taxing, and we are going to see how mentally tough we are as a team and see if we can be sharp and carry this stuff over. We aren’t going to have 17,000 people at the game Wednesday like we have the last two—which have been absolutely amazing, but you develop as you play at home.”