LINCOLN — In the postgame press conference, Nebraska junior Andrew White said the analysis and examination of the errors can wait.
The pressing concern for everyone following the Huskers’ 87-63 win over Rutgers on Saturday afternoon was Shavon Shields. The NU senior was carted off on a gurney with 8:49 remaining in the second half after falling hard and hitting his head.
Nebraska athletic trainer R.J. Pietig said Shields was unconscious for about a minute, but was alert, awake and had feeling in his hands and feet by the time he left the court. Pietig said Shields was taken to the emergency room for further testing.
“It is as significant an event as I’ve been through during a game,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. “It’s scary stuff.”
In an update at 5 p.m., Nebraska officials said Shields was dismissed from the hospital. The release said Shields underwent a CT scan, which was negative, and he will follow Nebraska’s concussion protocol.
“We are relieved and thankful Shavon has been released, and that his injuries aren’t more serious,” Miles said in a statement. “We will follow the proper protocol to get him back to full speed. I know Shavon and his family are grateful for everyone’s thoughts and prayers.”
Following the game, White said that as soon as Shields jumped to try to block a shot by Rutgers post D.J. Foreman, he knew it would be bad.
Shields fell onto Foreman’s back, flipped over and landed on his left shoulder, neck and head. Miles summoned Shields’ mother, Senia, onto the court. Eventually, Shields was carted off to a standing ovation after a nine-minute stoppage.
“It was really scary, just because I think most basketball players go through a fall like that. It’s just a matter of how serious it is when you land,” White said. “You can hit a back, you can hit a shoulder, head, neck.”
At the time of Shields’ injury, Nebraska led 72-55, and when play resumed an uneasy mood hung over the crowd of 12,981 at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Miles said even he wasn’t completely focused on the action on the floor.
“Everyone was concerned,” Miles said. “The referees and officials were asking. The kids were worried. And at that point you just try and get through the game as quick as you can. The game feels so unimportant.
“At the under-four timeout I was thinking ‘What am I doing?’ ‘How am I going to get there?’ and ‘How do we get our information to see how he’s doing and what can we do for him?’ ”
Miles said he kept fellow senior Benny Parker on the bench the rest of the game because he didn’t think Parker was mentally ready to play.
Nebraska (13-11, 5-6) took control of the game with an 18-3 run to close out the first half.
With 7:35 left in the half, Rutgers (6-18, 0-11) led 33-27 and was shooting 60 percent (12 for 20) from the floor. Freshman Corey Sanders had scored 10 of his game-high 28 points in a four-minute span.
During a timeout, Miles switched to a 2-3 zone and Nebraska held Rutgers without a field goal the rest of the half. The Scarlet Knights went 0 for 6 from the floor and committed four turnovers in the stretch.
The change in defenses “just kind of breaks the rhythm of what’s going on,” White said. “They had a really good one-on-one player on their team, and just by coming up the court and seeing a different look, it just helps to kind of change the flow of the game.”
White led Nebraska with 21 points and eight rebounds.
But after the game, everyone’s focus was on Shields.
“Our hearts and our concerns go out to Shavon Shields and his family and his health,” Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan said. “... We hope he recovers very soon.”
» Coach Tim Miles said three freshmen were instrumental in the win. Michael Jacobson finished with a career-best 13 points plus five rebounds. Glynn Watson added eight points and nine assists, while Ed Morrow recorded 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting to go with seven rebounds.
» Nebraska has suffered two three-game losing streaks this year. Both times, the Huskers snapped the skids with a win against Rutgers.
» Shavon Shields became the 10th player in Nebraska history to score 1,500 career points. Shields finished with 17 points against Rutgers and now has 1,503 for his career.