What you wonder about watching the Nebraska Cornhuskers playing Basketball is that can this team really, really get anything done in the Big Ten Conference. After Tuesday night's game, the answer is as murky as it could possibly be.
Nebraska got big nights from both Andrew White III and Shavon Shields with 19 points each, while eliciting some bad thoughts as they gave up a big lead before coasting to a 81-50 win over a winless Prairie View team in front of just over 10 thousand at Pinnacle Bank Arena Tuesday night.
The Huskers (7-5) used a 50-22 second half after the Prairie View A&M Panthers (0-11)came back from a 26-8 deficit with 7:06 in the first half to take a 34-33 lead 2:28 into the second half.
Interestingly enough, after the loss on Sunday night to Samford, White told the media gathered after the game that the team had a players-only meeting, going for at least a hour before they prepped for the Panthers. The meeting was unknown to Head Coach Tim Miles. From White himself:
... We had a meeting this week, and we were talking about holding everybody accountable for what they do on and off the court. We really stressed togetherness. In this profession, coaches are going to get on guys, but it’s our job, as a team, to pick guys up. I think by us having a slow first half, it really tested our togetherness, so I think we made a lot of strides in that aspect. That helped us get our feet under us and have a breakout second half. That’ll be something more crucial for games going forward than just the game today."
The Huskers started out well, cruising to a 22-8 lead at the Under 8 media timeout in the first half. However, a combination of losing intensity along with "not doing a good job guarding the ball" led PVSU to a finish of a 23-2 run to go to the half only down 3. Six turnovers were in the mix for Nebraska, who has not figured out how to stop the scoring droughts.
The second half started with the Huskers losing the lead on a Tevin Bellinger jumper, followed by a PVSU timeout. Miles stated that Benny Parker got "very loud" in the huddle. After that, however, the Huskers got back to better defense at the point of attack, and outscored the Panthers 48-12 the rest of the way. In that spot, White had 10 of his 19 points while Shavon Shields had 7. Tai Webster contributed all 10 points of his effort in that period also,
However, the Huskers showed muscle on the rebounding part of the game, outrebounding PVSU 21-10 in that final 17:29 of the matchup. PVSU contributed 9 turnovers while the Huskers only had 4.
Afterwards, Tim Miles talked about his team having to be more consistent and noting that the gaps that his crew faces as they hurl towards a very unforgiving conference slate can tear a team apart. He stated that he's probably going to keep the Guard rotation and such the same, but he wants to see more out of the post play for Nebraska.
"I think with this team right now we are still finding our way. I think I’m going to keep the starting guards the way they are right now. I’m going to let that ride out for a while. I think I feel comfortable with that. Jack (McVeigh) has struggled shooting the last five games. But Jack still does a lot of things right. I’d like him to score more. He’s a smart player; he has a great mind for the game so he brings a lot of intangibles to the game even if he’s not making shots. The post rotation is going to be Michael (Jacobson) and Ed (Morrow Jr.) and then when Jake (Hammond) comes back around we will see where he fits in from there."
It will be interesting to watch this team as they head through the Christmas break and back on the floor against the Northwestern Wildcats on December 30th. If that goes south, two more games vs. Indiana and Iowa to round out 3 in 7 days can quickly dagger a season.
Miles on that confidence level after 2 games in 3 days, then the B1G gauntlet:
"First off, I believe in my guys. Things were bad the other night and I’m not going to divorce them when it’s bad and then remarry them when it’s good. But we need to get better and we need to get better in a lot of ways, not just defensively but offensively. We need to have better resilience. We will allow teams to go on big runs. We will also go on big runs. You can’t allow that in the Big Ten and the competition is hot and heavy and it’s going to come at you hard and fast."
So did a winless team from south Texas. But, the Huskers handled it on Tuesday.