Freshman Tayler Persons led the Norse with 13 points. Anthony Monaco, averaging 2.5 points in 51 career games, matched his career high with 12, all on 3-pointers.
The Atlantic Sun's Northern Kentucky (0-2) lost its opener 62-31 at third-ranked Wisconsin on Friday and was outscored by a combined 50 points by the Big Ten opponents.
Nebraska, ranked for the first time since January 1995, returned all but one contributor from the team that went on a surge the second half of last season to finish fourth in the Big Ten and make the NCAA tournament.
The Huskers trailed by six points in the first four minutes, then used a 25-7 run to take a double-digit lead that grew to 18 in the last minute of the half. The bulge grew to 22 points in the second half.
It wasn't always smooth offensively for the Huskers. Petteway threw up an air ball on an ill-advised shot from the wing and grimaced as he turned to go up the court. But the Norse's Jordan Garnett was off target with his outlet pass, and the ball ended up back in Petteway's hands.
Petteway didn't hesitate to put up a 3-pointer, and coach Tim Miles just shook his head as it swished through the hoop.
Nebraska: The Huskers have won 14 straight openers and 21 of their past 23. Petteway's first dunk came on a fast-break alley-oop pass from Benny Parker late in the first half. Nebraska held a 22-6 advantage in points off turnovers in the first half.
Northern Kentucky: The Norse scored 30 points in the first half, one fewer than their program record-low game total against Wisconsin. They outrebounded Nebraska 36-30. The Norse were 11 of 21 on free throws after going 1 of 5 from the line against Wisconsin.
Nebraska hosts Central Arkansas on Tuesday.
Northern Kentucky hosts North Carolina A&T on Wednesday.