With the win, Nebraska (17-11, 9-7 Big Ten) is guaranteed a .500 conference record, a Big Ten first for the Huskers, now in their third season in the conference. Nebraska won nine conference games for the first time since 1998-99 and only the 10th time since World War II.Drew Crawford's 3-pointer with 11:46 remaining.
A three-point play by Shields triggered a 13-4 Nebraska run that he capped with a pair of free throws to make the score 44-34 with 7 minutes left. Nebraska's largest lead came on another Shields three-point play that put the Huskers up 49-38 with 3:49 left.
Northwestern's Alex Olah, who finished with 20 points, then scored six straight to pull the Wildcats to within five. After a Nebraska basket, Crawford's 3-pointer cut the Nebraska lead to four at 51-47.
Nebraska's Benny Parker took a charge from Northwestern's Sanjay Lumpkin to get the ball back for the Huskers with 30 seconds remaining. Shields made 1 of 2 free throws, then closed the scoring with a breakaway dunk with 5 seconds left.
Neither team shot the ball well. Nebraska finished at 37 percent from the floor, Northwestern at 33 percent.
Crawford finished with 11 for Northwestern and Tre Demps added 10.