It was another slow start for Tim Miles’ team on Tuesday night at the Pinnacle Bank Arena. Lucky for Miles and Nebraska, Shavon Shields showed up and took control against Omaha.
Shields poured in a career-high 35 points as the Huskers overcame a strong start from the Mavericks on their way to an 80-67 win in Lincoln to move to 3-1 on the season. Omaha came in off the heels of a 97-89 win at Marquette last Saturday in Milwaukee and showed they had the firepower to make a game of it. The Mavericks hit eight of their first nine shots and sprinted to a 23-7 lead with 15:07 remaining in the first half after a jumper by forward Mike Rostampour. However, Nebraska began to find its rhythm both offensively and defensively and outscored Omaha 35-11 to end the first half and take a 42-34 lead into halftime.
“I think we were more flat because of the Rhode Island game,” Nebraska head coach Tim Miles said. “They made some tough shots, but we also made some defensive errors. They went on that huge run early. After that, I think we got our heads calmed down.”
The junior Shields was a big reason why. His 35-point effort eclipsed his previous high of 33, which he tallied last season in a 67-58 win over Illinois last season. The 35 points also tied Terran Petteway’s arena-record of 35 points, which Petteway notched in a win over Minnesota last season.
“I just tried to play within the offense and take shots when they come. They were falling tonight,” Shields said. “I know I put in the work in for them to fall so, I didn’t change anything.”
The Huskers couldn’t get anything to fall early on, especially from the free throw line. Nebraska made just 1-of-10 free throws to start the game and found themselves trying to play catch up against an Omaha team that had been riding high and with a point to prove against their instate foe. After the dismal start at the line, the Huskers would make 18-of-31 on the night and shoot 52.8% from the floor, as Shields finished an impressive 12-of-16 from the field with four three-pointers and made all four of his free throw attempts.
Miles has been thankful for the solid play of Shields, who has been the most consistent player of his this season through the first four games.
“I’m scared to think of the consequences of him not being steady, if he was EKGing like the rest of them,” Miles said. “He’s really been the rock for us, our go-to guy.”
Terran Petteway also chipped in a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds, but also had six turnovers in the win. Petteway was a game-time decision after hurting an ankle in the Huskers’ 66-62 loss in overtime at Rhode Island last Saturday. Tai Webster scored all 10 of his points in the second half and added four assists, coming off the bench as Benny Parker picked up the start at point guard.
Despite the loss, Omaha head coach Derrin Hansen was happy with how his team started and continued to compete throughout the contest.
“We have done that a few times and got some to go, but it was also fool’s gold too because it came kind of easy for us because we made shots,” Hansen said. “Then for the next four or five minutes, we had a couple of those quick shots again that did not go and they had some run outs or we turned the ball over and we weren’t really good with.”
“In the second half, I liked our fight. We got it back to four points at one time, and then I just thought we did a bad job a couple of times on transition,” Hansen added.
Devin Patterson led the Mavericks with 20 points and played 35 minutes, despite being taken to the hospital for dehydration earlier in the day. Hansen praised Patterson’s toughness.
“That’s who Devin is. Devin is as tough of a kid as I’ve ever coached. I know we list him as 5’11”, but he’s probably closer to 5’7 1/2,” Hansen said of his point guard. “He’d be a great cornerback somewhere because he’s fast, he can fly around, and he’s as competitive as all get out.”
Announced attendance was at 15,889 at Pinnacle Bank Arena, the sixth-largest crowd in school history. The 16-point deficit faced by the Huskers also tied the largest deficit overcome at Pinnacle Bank Arena, equaling Nebraska’s comeback win over Indiana on January 30, 2014.
Next up for the Huskers is another home game against Tennessee-Martin on Friday night at the Pinnacle Bank Arena, with tip-off set for 7:00 p.m. Meanwhile, Omaha gets just their second home game of the season on Saturday as the Mavericks host Nevada at 1:00 p.m. at the Ralston Arena.