Huskers Handle Penn State

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

After all the hype after the Husker's upset over Michigan State, the question was: "would the Huskers be able to finally, at long last, take advantage of an opportunity"? Well, so far so good. The Huskers dominated the Nittany Lions, 80-67.

Well, that's not the familiar script.

The Huskers, fresh off  four days of being talked up after their upset win over Michigan State Sunday evening, the question was, how would they handle their new found stature? Would they melt in the spotlight? Shy away from the attention? Or would the rise to the occasion and do what a team fighting for a tourney berth is supposed to do to with the last place team coming into their own building?

Well, for at least this one night? They smelled blood in the water. They came out swinging again and controlled the game from start to finish. Since the beginning of the season, Tim Miles has been preaching the virtues of getting to the rim. "Love the rim, like the three" was the mantra. Well, on this night, they fell into a deep, passionate raging love with the rim. Attacking it relentlessly and in the process racked up 48 free throw attempts. Aiding in that effort were six free throw attempts on three technical fouls called on Penn St.

A raucous Pinnacle Bank Arena saw the Huskers build their lead to as large as 27, 70-43 in the second half. The Huskers were paced by, guess who? Terran Petteway. He tallied 26 points, one of five Huskers in double figures. He did have two turnovers, however, after not turning the ball over on Sunday vs. the Spartans.  He'll probably hear about that in practice tomorrow.

The only negative for the Huskers was when Walter Pitchford went down with an apparent knee injury when a Penn St. player fell into his knee trying to defend him while driving to the rim. He was down for a couple of minutes writhing in pain before being helped off the floor. No official diagnosis has been give, but Miles said after the game it appears there is no ligament damage and shouldn't miss any time. A sigh of relief for the Huskers and their fans.

Having passed the first test on their quest for the dance, they look to the next one. The Purdue Boilermakers come to town Sunday afternoon. The Boilers defeated NU January 12, 70-64 and led the game with less than six minutes to go in the game but couldn't hold on for the win. If they can pass this next hurdle, it will be full fledged bubble hysteria in Lincoln. Get ready, this is what Nebrasketball fans have been waiting for since 1998.

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