Published Monday, February 17, 2014 at 12:01 am / Updated at 4:49 pm
Barfknecht: While Huskers draw praise, Miles knows NU must maintain perspective

Monday was “Love-Up Nebraska Day” on the Big Ten men's basketball teleconference.

The upset of No. 9 Michigan State and the move into the top half of the league standings with two-thirds of the race over has made coach Tim Miles' team the one to talk about.

Spartans coach Tom Izzo, who got a front-row view of NU on Sunday, was still talking about it Monday. Noting that the Huskers' Terran Petteway and Walter Pitchford combined for 41 points and 8 of 19 3-pointers, Izzo said: “Pitchford and Petteway made some shots that I wouldn't shoot in a H-O-R-S-E game. They've been making those, though, that's the problem.”

As for trying to clamp down on Petteway: “We couldn't cover him with a fishnet.”

Izzo also noted that Nebraska has gone 5-1 since the Huskers dismissed point guard Deverell Biggs for repeated disciplinary issues.

“Tim has done a great job, and guys are buying in,” Izzo said. “He moved the lineup around, got rid of a bad apple and what happened? His team seemed to flourish.

“That happens a lot of times — addition by subtraction. Give him credit. He did a hell of a job on that.”

The fact that Petteway has had games of 35 and 30 points, and Shavon Shields a 33-pointer has grabbed the attention of Penn State coach Patrick Chambers.

“Any time you've got a guy or two guys on your team who can get you 30, that really helps,” Chambers said. “It sounds like they are playing with great confidence, and they have multiple scorers.”

Something Big Ten foes also are well aware of is Nebraska's 11-1 record at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

“It is now another typical Big Ten road venue,” said Ohio State coach Thad Matta, who beat Nebraska by 31 points in Columbus and lost by six in Lincoln.

“There's energy, there's excitement. The night we were in there, it was completely packed. And Nebraska is playing very good basketball, not just there but on the road, too.”

Michigan is the only team to win at PBA, but it was a struggle. The Wolverines won 71-70, hitting a 50-foot 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer and surviving two Nebraska missed shots in the paint in the final four seconds.

“There is an excitement there,” UM coach John Beilein said Monday. “But I don't get into the building thing.”

His focus is on good players.

“You've got to have a talented team in this league to win at home or away,” Beilein said. “And Tim has put together a talented team that has really played well together.

“What happened at Michigan State, nobody would have called. But his team has a lot of developing talent. They've got really good players and he is a really good coach.”

The attention on Nebraska wasn't limited to the Big Ten teleconference.

Miles did interviews Monday with ESPN's Andy Katz, ESPN's Seth Greenberg, national radio host Tim Brando and Minneapolis radio station KFAN. On Tuesday, USA Today is scheduled to visit Lincoln.

Nebraska assistants Chris Harriman and Craig Smith made the local radio rounds. On Twitter, #Nebrasketball was still trending late Monday afternoon.

The Huskers also got one vote in Monday's coaches Top 25 poll. One NU team each under Doc Sadler and Barry Collier got a Top 25 vote, but the program hasn't actually been in the Top 25 since Jan. 2, 1995.

Heady stuff.

Now, Miles has to figure out how to keep NCAA tournament talk from going to his players' heads.

“You can't keep them from the information,” he said Monday. “They've got every available medium.

“Basically, it's 'Avoid the noise.' All we can control is winning games. If you don't keep them in that mindset, you're really hurting your team. We can discuss scenarios, but none of them exist until Selection Sunday.”

If Nebraska needs a helping of humbleness, just recall that both opponents this week — Penn State on Thursday and Purdue on Sunday — beat NU in January.

Big Ten honors

Co-Players of the week: Nebraska guard Terran Petteway and Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky. Petteway, a 6-foot-6 sophomore from Galveston, Texas, averaged 19.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in wins over Illinois and Michigan State. Kaminsky, a 7-0 junior from Lisle, Ill., averaged 21 points and 8.5 rebounds in wins over Minnesota and Michigan.

Rookie of the week: Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes. The 6-7 freshman from Toledo, Ohio, had 15 points, four rebounds and two steals in a win over Minnesota.

Quote of the week

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo on his team's lack of energy for the Nebraska game: “I could have played with five walk-ons and had more intensity.''

Stats of the week

Illinois Athletic Director Mike Thomas got a $51,000 raise and three-year contract extension in January. How are his three highest-profile sports doing in 2013-14?

Football: 4-8 overall, 1-7 in league, second-worst record in the Big Ten.

Men's basketball: 14-12 overall, last in the Big Ten at 3-10.

Women's basketball: 9-17 overall, last in the Big Ten at 2-11.

Note that Thomas hired all three coaches within his first three months at Illinois.

Bits and pieces

» Big Ten road teams in league play have won a stunning 44.7 percent (34-42).

» Indiana point guard Yogi Ferrell leads the Big Ten in scoring at 17.9, with Nebraska’s Terran Petteway second at 17.7.

» Indiana sophomore forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea remains suspended indefinitely after being charged with drunk driving. He averaged 2.9 points and eight minutes a game.

» Northwestern center Alex Olah (sprained ankle) is day to day this week.

Contact the writer: Lee Barfknecht    |   402-444-1024    |  

Lee Barfknecht has won nine national writing awards from four separate organizations, and is a 12-time winner of the Nebraska sportswriter of the year award. He covers Big Ten football and basketball, Nebraska basketball and other college financial issues for The World-Herald.



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