Nebraska shot the ball in fantastic fashion in all facets:
-An overall 52% from the field.
-55% from downtown.
-76% from the line.
This led to an impressive 77 points (with 70 before the "foul-a-thon" ensued) and kept Nebraska in this game when Wisconsin couldn't miss for the first 25 minutes.
This was an old fashioned "toe to toe" ten round fight and after coming to a draw for the first eight rounds, NU completely dominated Wisconsin in the last two and a good portion of that was the Huskers attacking the rim and getting good shots.
Shavon Shields is our Player of the Game thanks to 26 points on 10-17 shooting, including 6-7 from the line. Had the referees decided to give NU at least one or two calls out of the five times they went to the rim and were bodied in the first half, Shields would have no doubt hit 30 tonight.
Terran Petteway didn't have his best game but also matched Shields with 26 - that's how good he is, where we can now say he had kind of an "off night" and still had a career night for the majority of the players in the Big 10.
The Huskers didn't need much offense besides that, but Walter Pitchford hit some HUGE three pointers en route to scoring 15 and Ray Gallegos hit perhaps the biggest shot of the game (unless you consider Shields' shot that we'll discuss later bigger) in nailing a three that took NU from down 2 to up 1. Without looking, I don't think Nebraska ever trailed again after that shot.
I really thought Nebraska was "good" even in the first half, when I'd give them a "B-." I'd go "A" for the second half, which equals out to a "B+."
Early on, NU raided Badger big men and that led to some big time three pointers from Wisconsin, which started 4-5 and 7-9 from downtown. Even though a few of those were wide open, the Badgers couldn't miss, and that's not typical. Also, several contested shots were hit in the first half, and NU still held the Madison visitors to a respectable 35 first half points (with some help from the zebras from the foul line, too).
In the second, NU played more straight up and once again, was inspired by its recent leader, Benny Parker. I thought the jump ball where he completely ripped the ball out of the hands of Traveon Jackson was awesome!!! I also want to commend Tai Webster for his defense tonight - he only played 9 minutes, but I thought he looked good on that side of the court (as he has continued to improve recently).
Nebraska held Wisconsin to 36% shooting from the field in the second half.
Wisconsin is bigger than NU and on top of that, the Huskers didn't have their best night on the glass, finishing -4 while getting killed with offensive boards (11 to 3).
Huge night for Petteway, who finished with 10 rebounds and honestly, should get "Co Player of the Game" with Shields. However, since we haven't done that all year, I'm going to stick with Shields, who seemed to get his points at more crucial times, including the "and one" to cut a 7 point early second half lead down to 4. This game perhaps gets away without that.
BALL HANDLING: A+
Only five turnovers to go along with nine assists - GREAT.
Also, NU only had four before Petteway just dropped the ball out of bounds during garbage time. That's 38 minutes of four turnover basketball - damn impressive.
This team loves playing for Coach Miles - that is shown more and more every single day.
We keep hearing and witnessing how charismatic and funny coach is. We keep hearing and witnessing how he builds programs. We keep hearing and witnessing how he recruits.
But let's not forget one thing that nobody ever talks about - MILES IS A HELL OF A FLOOR COACH. He makes adjustments with the best of them. And he allows his players to do so, too. He gets personnel equipped to perform, teaches them, puts them in the best position to succeed but isn't afraid to let them "take over" as based on his post game comments about Shields helping to decide defenses (another reason he's "Player of the Game.")
I also tonight, for the first time, noticed some "NBA" in NU. This is a good thing. It seemed as though Shields and Petteway kind of began switching off shots in the second half - each "getting theirs" and taking their turns, kind of like in the NBA. They did this within the flow of the offense and with including their teammates.
However, unlike the NBA, they still busted their asses on defense, played hard for 40 minutes and put the team first overall.
I can't emphasize enough how lucky we are to have Craig Smith, either. He doesn't get the glory of the two big recruiters in Harriman and Hunter, but I think he's to Tim Miles what Gary Bargen was to Danny Nee. Miles has had him at every stop. We are going to solely miss him following next year when he gets his first head coaching job.
OVERALL GRADE: A+
NU has won 8 of 9 -10 of 12.
They have their best conference finish since 1997-1998.
They have their best home mark since 1982-1983.
I have poured my heart and soul into this program since the late 90's. This is the best night I've ever had with the program. And the best atmosphere.
Sitting in Section 111, Row 14, here's my favorite takeaway from the night.
No, not the amazing job the NU event staff did putting on the pre-game (A+).
No, not the amazing job the PBA event staff did putting on the entire game (A+-).
No, not seeing the seniors "off" or Mike Peltz's secret wedding proposal that only his roommate Walter Pitchford knew about (A+).
And no, not seeing NU punch its ticket to the Big Dance.
No, the best part of the night for me was the fact that NOBODY left early AND that it was so freaking ruckus, loud and wild that even sitting 14 rows up, in the second half, I COULD NOT HEAR THE WHISTLE ON FOULS OR OUT OF BOUNDS PLAYS!!! Even right in front of us, on our end. First time in my life. I had no idea when the whistle was blown. It was crazy. It was just like a Nebraska football game, except 1,000 times better because it was Nebrasketball.
We. Are. Back.
And it feels so ####ing good (pardon my French).
SPECIAL AWARD - DOUCHEBAG QUOTE OF THE YEAR - BO RYAN
On the crowd's influence :
“We were at Virginia when they had maybe 18 thousand, and we've played at Ohio State. These guys have all played in pretty big places. This is the Big Ten. Have you ever been to the other places? Or do they just keep you here? Do you get to travel? Some people do local TV and don't go to the other Big Ten games."
On the new environment :
“It's not new to us. You'd have to live the lives these guys live, going into the places we go into."
PLAYER OF THE GAME: SHAVON SHIELDS
2013-2014 PLAYER OF THE GAME RESULTS:
TERRAN PETTEWAY - 13
SHAVON SHIELDS - 8
WALTER PITCHFORD - 4
TAI WEBSTER - 2
LESLEE SMITH - 2
DEVERELL BIGGS - 1