Despite a slow start, Terran Petteway and Nebraska turned up their defensive pressure and hit more shots after halftime against road-weary Central Arkansas en route to their second win of the young season.
The pre-season All-Big Ten selection Petteway scored 23 points while Shavon Shields added 16 points and 11 rebounds as Nebraska moved to 2-0 with an 82-56 win on Tuesday night at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln. The Huskers led 43-34 at halftime after a foul-filled first half, but hit 64 percent of their shots in the second half to take control against the Bears, who fell to 0-3 with the loss.
“We were not all locked in at the same time tonight and had some real bone-head plays. But we locked in and had a great second half defensively,” head coach Tim Miles said. “I think that our six guys that we have from last year have improved. They have all gotten better.”
In addition to Petteway and Shields, Walter Pitchford, Tai Webster, Benny Parker, and David Rivers round out the six that Miles spoke of that once again rounded out most of Nebraska’s rotation and minutes against the Bears. Webster finished with 13 points and four steals, while Rivers was perfect from the floor and free throw line for a second straight game, making both of his field goal attempts and finishing 4-of-4 from the free throw line, good enough for eight points and five rebounds.
Miles had high praise for the reserve guard Parker once again, who finished with eight points and made his first three pointer in nearly two years of game play.
“It does seem like when Benny comes in, things pop in a hurry,” Miles said of the junior guard.
Nebraska was able to outrebound Central Arkansas 40-35 after being beaten on the glass by Northern Kentucky in their season opening 80-61 win on Sunday night.
“We’re awful on the glass and we need to get a lot better,” Miles said. “Saturday (against Rhode Island) is of great concern for me, but we’ll get better.
Shields, who led the Huskers with 11 rebounds, agreed with Miles’ assessment that the team’s rebounding needs to improve in a hurry.
“We were better than we were two nights ago, but we have a lot of tough competition coming up,” Shields said. “We have to get better at that.”
Petteway felt the team overcame another slow start and eventually settled into a groove on offense, after a choppy first half that saw the Huskers attempt 25 free throws in the opening 20 minutes after being put into the bonus situation with barely five minutes played.
“We were just trying to get to the rim as much as possible. Plus they were going on in on the screen, so that kind of opened up the lane for us. We were able to drive to the basket and get easy shots.”
The Bears were led by Jake Zuilhof, who finished with 12 points and 6 rebounds, while Albert Christensson scored 11 points and Jordan Howard pitched in 10 despite 2-of-11 shooting from the floor. Central Arkansas shot just 32.8% from the floor for the game and committed 18 turnovers in the loss.
Nebraska’s 82 point effort gives the Huskers back-to-back 80-point games for the first time in nearly a year, when they put up consecutive 80-point games against South Carolina State and Massachusetts last November.
The Huskers face a tougher test this Saturday when they play at Rhode Island. Tip off against the Rams is set for 6 p.m. on Saturday night in Kingston, RI.