GAME NOTES: Coming off a historic win, the Nebraska Cornhuskers turn their attention to the Penn State Nittany Lions for a Big Ten Conference clash at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Penn State has dropped three of its last four contests, with the lone win in that span being a last-second triumph at Indiana last Wednesday. However, the Nittany Lions followed that up with an 82-70 home loss to 15th-ranked Iowa this past Saturday. Following this tilt, they'll return to campus to host Ohio State and Wisconsin next week.
Nebraska went on the road and upset ninth-ranked Michigan State on Sunday, 60-51, marking its first road win over a top-10 team in a 17-year span. The Cornhuskers have won three straight and five of their last six games overall as they remain hopeful of qualifying for their first NCAA Tournament in 16 years. Four of their final six regular-season games are at Pinnacle Bank Arena, where the Huskers are 11-1 on the season, and the majority of those remaining games are against teams in the bottom half of the Big Ten standings.
Penn State owns a slim, 5-3 lead in the all-time series, as it notched a 58-54 home win over the Cornhuskers on Jan. 23.
PSU hung around with nationally-ranked Iowa for much of Saturday's contest before the Hawkeyes put the game out of reach with a late 14-4 run. Both teams shot 40 percent from the floor and committed fewer than 10 turnovers for the game. However, Iowa shot 7-of-19 from beyond the arc (.368) while PSU shot just 3-of-16 (.188), and the Hawkeyes also enjoyed a key 31-15 scoring edge at the foul line. D.J. Newbill checked in with a game-high 22 points for Penn State, followed by Tim Frazier (seven rebounds) and John Johnson with 11 apiece, and Ross Travis with 10 off the bench. The guard tandem of Newbill (17.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and Frazier (15.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg) has been in the starting lineup for every game this season. But when one or both of those players has a quiet game -- as Frazier did against Iowa -- wins are hard to come by for the Nittany Lions as there are no other double-digit scorers on the roster.
Nebraska turned to top scorer Terran Petteway (17.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg) to upend national title hopeful Michigan State. The Cornhuskers shot just 35.8 percent as a team, but Petteway had a game-high 23 points and came up with several clutch buckets down the stretch. For his efforts, the sophomore was named the Big Ten's co-player of the week. Teammate Walter Pitchford (9.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg) was also instrumental in the outcome as he racked up 18 points, five rebounds, a pair of steals and a blocked shot -- all while committing zero turnovers. Shavon Shields (11.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg) finished with seven points and eight boards. Nebraska, which led by as many as 11 early in the second half and never trailed by more than two points, committed only five turnovers for the game.
Nebraska has climbed to .500 in conference play for the first time since joining the Big Ten, and the time is ripe for the team to serve up some payback for that Jan. 23 loss to PSU. Still, the Huskers must be careful to avoid the proverbial letdown game after such a big win.
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