LINCOLN — In Terran Petteway’s one basketball season at Texas Tech, his assignment on offense was to run to the corner and wait for a pass. Even if the ball arrived, he wasn’t green-lighted to shoot.
His scoring average: 3.3 points a game.
Since he’s transferred to Nebraska, things have changed for the 6-foot-6 guard from Galveston, Texas.
Petteway poured in 35 points in 31 minutes Sunday night to lead the Huskers to an 82-78 win against Minnesota, to the delight of a sellout crowd of 15,945 at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
The career-high 35 points were the most in a conference game this season. He also is the first Big Ten player with two 30-point games. The other was 30 against Massachusetts, a Top 25 team much of the season.
Getting to 35 points — seven short of Eric Piatkowski’s 1994 school record of 42 — shocked Petteway. He had 12 in the first half and 23 in the second.
“When the commentator after the game told me I had my career high, I was kind of surprised,” he said. “Even the guys in the room were like, ‘Dang, that was a quiet 35.’”
Petteway’s performance — tops for a Husker since center Aleks Maric poured in 36 at Iowa State seven years ago — boosted his season average an entire point Sunday, to 18.2.
That moves him to third in the Big Ten behind preseason All-American Gary Harris of Michigan State (18.8) and league player of the year candidate Nik Stauskas of Michigan (18.5).
“Terran’s a machine,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. “He’s an excellent athlete. He can score in transition. He can make 3s. There were one or two bad shots he took, and he made one of them.
“I’m not going to stop him. Just slow him down a little.”
Nebraska (10-9, 2-5 Big Ten) needed every point it could wring out to hold off Minnesota (15-6, 4-4), which had won four of its past six games and was coming off an upset of No. 9 Wisconsin.
The Huskers led 10-3 in the first 2:12 as forward Walter Pitchford scored seven of his 13 points in that stretch; 35-30 at halftime as forward Shavon Shields hit a key 3-pointer with three seconds left; and 48-33 with 14:36 to play after a 13-3 run to start the second half.
But Minnesota, playing without leading scorer Andre Hollins (ankle) and his 15.4 average, got 29 points from guard Malik Smith to close to 59-53, 78-74 and eventually 80-78 with 2.7 seconds left.
Who hit the two clinching free throws for Nebraska with 1.7 seconds left?
Minnesota coach Richard Pitino got a big heads-up on Petteway from assistant Ben Johnson, who spent last season under Miles at Nebraska working with Petteway during his transfer year.
“Ben told me he’s probably the hardest-working kid he has ever coached,” Pitino said. “That says a lot about him, and he definitely deserves success.
“I really like him. He made some big-time plays and big-time shots. Guys who work that hard get better.”
Petteway said the reason for his “quiet” 35 points was apparent after hitting 10 of 15 field goals and 11 of 14 free throws.
The open man got the ball. The Huskers tied their season high in assists with 19 on 25 baskets.
That was without point guard Deverell Biggs, who sat out for “personal reasons.” Biggs, averaging 9.9 points, committed two critical late-game turnovers in Thursday’s 58-54 loss at Penn State, and had 10 miscues in the past two games.
“We just kept the ball moving,” Petteway said. “That was fun, man. We just stayed within the offense, and that’s where all the shots came from.”
Those words were music to Miles, especially coming from his hardest worker.
“I’ve had really hard workers through my career, 19 years,” the coach said. “I don’t know if I’ve had a guy work harder at his game than Terran. And then be able to put it into team form.
“That’s really an important integration that not every player can pull off.”
Nebraska boosted its home record to 9-1, but more important, wiped away the bad taste left from the ugly showing at cellar-dwelling Penn State.
“We needed this,” Miles said. “This was a good win over a very good team. We were fortunate. We kind of hung on.
“Tonight was our biggest step forward. But it was just one step. We need to put some steps together.”
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Video: Terran Petteway slam dunk