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Huskers Lower the Boom on Gophers

The Huskers and Gophers attempted to play a basketball game Tuesday night, the refs stole the spotlight, Nebraska held on for tense 52-49 win.

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska basketball fans have been plagued by a bunch of bad basketball over the years. Most of the time, they haven't needed any help in that, but on this night, their ugly play met it's match.

The story of this game isn't that Terran Petteway eclipsed 1,000 career points on his first shot of the night, it isn't the emergence of Tarin Smith, Minnesota's lack of scoring punch doesn't carry the headline, nor does NU's struggles from the free throw line.

The story tonight is the officiating taking over a game that didn't need any help making it ugly. This isn't even about this game. College basketball has been inflicted with some of the worst officiating the game has seen in a long time and it's hurting the game. Calls that are ignored early in the game become fouls later. There's little consistency from one game to the next and there's the appearance that some (not all) refs have thin skin. That's a problem. Perception is often reality and the perception is growing that many referees have a tendency to make themselves the centerpiece of this game.

Tonight's example: Tom Eades. In the second half, he called Shavon Shields for a foul. The call was questionable, as were many, for both sides this evening. As he called the foul, the ball popped loose, and NU was about to break away for a likely dunk, but at worst an easy layup. Instead, Eades called Shavon for the foul, and he and Petteway reacted in kind. Shields isn't completely blameless, he did say all of the words you would rather not let your mother know you know, but that's not an uncommon occurrence in athletic competition.

You'd have thought Eades would know how to handle that. Shields however, did not direct any of them in Eades' direction. Eades stood just north of the mid-court stripe, put his whistle back in his mouth and waited for Shields to turn around. When he did, he called him for the technical foul. In doing so, it appears he may have added in a four letter word of his own. You can make the call on that one:

All of that being said, they did put 20:00 on the clock twice, they did keep track of how many times each team was able to get the ball through the hoop and from where on the court they did it. The Huskers were able to do it a little more often the Gophers did on this night. The Huskers struggled to shoot free throws. The Gophers, as it turns out, lack much of a post game as well and, at least tonight, struggle mightily to score. Both teams turned it over a lot, 31 times combined between the two teams, but in the end, the Huskers did just a little more, to win this game. It wasn't pretty. It wasn't even homely, but for Nebraska, they got the win, move to 3-3 in conference play and knock the Gophers to 1-6.

Up next for the Huskers is a game that could swing their season when Michigan State comes to town. Last season, the Huskers upset of MSU was a pivotal moment in their run to the NCAA Tournament. Saturday's game could serve a similar role. Tom Izzo will surely remind Sparty of what they did in their barn last season. It is sure to be a raucous atmosphere in Pinnacle Bank Arena as the Huskers look to keep improving and moving towards the team most expected them to be this season. Tip off for Nebraska vs. Michigan State will be at 3:00 p.m.