In a non-conference season that hasn't been very pretty for Nebraska basketball, it got a lot worse in their first game of the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, playing at home in their tourney at the Stan Sheriff Center, used 18 Nebraska Cornhusker turnovers and a few big runs to defeat Nebrasketball 66-58 in the first round of the eight-team, three-day Christmas tournament.
Nebraska, whose NCAA at-large tourney hopes are in serious doubt, started the game down 2-0 when Kye Kurkowski was nailed with a "Administrative Technical Foul" before the game. There is a rule that states that 20 or so minutes before the game, a team may not dunk the ball in the pregame warmup period, or be nailed with a T. Kurkowski did such a thing, so it was a team technical, and Hawaii got a 2-0 lead before the ball was even tipped. This isn't the first time that it's happened this season or even this month, and it cost North Florida a game about 2 weeks ago.
As for the game's play itself, it was a foul-laden festival. Four Huskers were hit with at least 2 fouls each in the first half, and it was Terran Petteway who led the Huskers in scoring with 7 points as Nebraska was behind 34-23 at halftime. Nebraska shot 30% from the floor. The biggest lingering issue of the game, however, was Petteway getting tied up with Hawaii's Issac Fleming, resulting in a double technical. That gave Petteway 3 fouls and made him sit on the bench. The whole night, Nebraska was not the same team with Terran on the bench.
The second half saw a much better effort from Nebraska, as they ended up shooting 56% from the floor for the second half. Nebraska fought back to get a 43-40 lead at the under-12 timeout with Walter Pitchford hitting a couple 3 pointers. However, that's the biggest second-half lead Nebraska would get, as Aaron Valdes led the Warriors with 15 points and led a charge that seemed to keep momentum away from Nebraska whenever the Huskers would get something going.
Nebraska took their final lead at 49-48 with 5:09 to go, but the Warriors took the lead and never gave it back in the final 4 minutes. Petteway was the leading scorer in the game for Nebraska with 14 points. Pitchford had 10 points and 10 rebounds in the effort. Shavon Shields and Benny Parker both had 12 points each.
The Huskers actually won the rebounding margin tonight, 39-38. However, 18 turnovers and losing both second-chance points (12-1) and points off turnovers (18-9) cost Nebraska. Doesn't help that the Huskers shot 53% from the free throw line as well.
The Huskers try to improve their 6-4 record tomorrow evening vs. Loyola Marymount in a consolation game in Honolulu. Hawaii gets a crack at the Wichita State Shockers, who won their game this evening with ease.