Attitude adjustment: NU’s Petteway helps spark OSU upset
Story and photos by Alex Lantz, NewsNetNebraska
There was a moment late in the first half of Nebraska’s 68-62 upset over No. 17 Ohio State Monday at Pinnacle Bank Arena when Nebraska coach Tim Miles shared a few choice words with NU guard Terran Petteway.
“I’m like, ‘knock it off. Grow up. Play through this. This is a bunch of crap.’” Miles said of the exchange he had with Petteway. Miles said his exact words were more of the adult variety.
The sophomore had just committed three turnovers during a three-minute stretch, and he was clearly upset with himself. Miles sent two subs to the scorer’s table. Petteway put his head down and started walking to the bench. He assumed he was getting taken out.
Miles had something else in mind. Unhappy with Petteway’s reaction, Miles was on his case for most of the next minute.
Petteway got the message. He responded with some of his best basketball of the season. After committing five turnovers and scoring five points in the first half, Petteway scored 13 after the break. He limited his turnovers to three – of which none happened in the game’s final 15 minutes.
His 18 points tied for a game-high with teammate Shavon Shields.
“You gotta have a short memory,” Petteway said of his ability to turn his play around. “I was kind of letting it get to me, but my teammates were picking me up and that helped me. I had to forget about it and help my team out late in the game.”
Petteway emerged as Nebraska’s go-to player, making crucial plays in the final three minutes as the Huskers pulled away. The same guy who stood hanging his head after missing the potential game-winning shot against Michigan a week ago redeemed himself Monday with seven points in the final two minutes and 30 seconds.
His contested shot that glanced ever so softly off the glass and through the net from the right side of the lane put Nebraska up 51-47 with 2:22 left. Petteway’s two free throws 30 seconds later made it 55-49. Another bank shot from almost the same spot as the first made it 57-51 with 1:37 remaining .
“Sometimes, honestly, if you just tell them to play better, they will,” Miles said. “And that’s what I told (Petteway).”
Ohio State’s Aaron Craft, who is often the Buckeyes’ go-to player in key situations, was called for a charging foul on the following possession, and from there Nebraska sealed the win by sinking 11-of-14 free throws after Ohio State started intentionally fouling.
For Nebraska (9-8, 1-4 Big Ten), a team that’s been stuck in close-but-not-quite territory for much of the season, a clutch performance like Petteway’s has been absent. Nebraska needed somebody to step up and be the floor leader in the final minutes. Monday night, Pettaway was that somebody.
Considering the magnitude of the situation, it was arguably Pettaway’s biggest performance as a Husker. It was also Miles’ first signature victory since taking over at Nebraska last season. Wins don’t usually come easy in the Big Ten – just ask Ohio State (15-4, 2-4 Big Ten). It’s now dropped four straight conference games – so it’s understandable that Miles has been given a fairly long leash in coaching an NU program still finding its way as a new Big Ten Conference member.
“This is a difficult thing we’re involved in,” Miles said of the Big Ten.
Perhaps this will prove to be the kind of victory puts the Huskers on a winning track. The upcoming schedule will help. Nebraska has just one game against a ranked team – No. 21 Michigan – in their next six. They’ll play Minnesota and Indiana at Pinnacle Bank Arena, where NU is 8-1.
The emergence of a go-to player like Petteway can only help matters – if his play from Monday remains a fixture the rest of the season.