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Player of the game: Benny Parker was a perfect 3-for-3 from the field, scoring 9 points and recording 3 assists. His early threes in the second half pushed the game out of reach for Rutgers.
The moment was over: Nebraska forward Terran Petteway went on an 8-2 run midway through the second half, pushing the Huskers lead to 47-33.
LINCOLN, Neb. - Nebraska might not be full strength, but they were a lot closer on Thursday night.
The Huskers saw the return of post presences Moses Abraham and Leslee Smith off the bench, combining for 7 points, 4 rebounds, and solid lane defense in 25 minutes. Not necessarily enough on all nights for a Nebraska to victory, but enough against Rutgers.
Smith had been out for the entire season with a torn ACL, suffered in July during the FIBA Caribbean Basketball Championships. Abraham had not played since mid-December with a broken hand.
"I think with anything you look at the minutes with the guys. David (Rivers) only played 21 minutes, those other guys got 13 each,” said Miles. “Just the fact that we didn't have to play these guys into oblivion. We could get Shavon (Shields) and Terran out a couple times, without foul trouble, and just take them out to rest them and for a few minutes. I just think that is so important to what we are doing.”
Smith averaged 5.4 points and 4.8 rebounds a game last season, logging about 16 minutes a contest – something the Huskers have desperately missed inside.
“It felt pretty good,” said Smith. “I feel normal. I feel like I have never left. I haven’t really gone up against that much size in practice, because we don’t have many bigs, but it’s something I can adjust (to).
“After we lost the last away game (Iowa on Monday night). I told myself I was ready. I couldn’t watch my team suffer inside anymore. I had to come out and play hard defense.”
Parker comes up big in win
Nebraska guard Benny Parker scored 9 points in 28 minutes, knocking down multiple three-pointers in the second half. Parker was one of nine players to record a point on Thursday.
“I thought the offense was flowing a little bit better tonight,” said Petteway, the game’s leading scorer with 20. “Once that is happening, our offense started flowing way better.”
“We have a lot of trust in everybody. We want everybody to shoot. If you see us on the court, we are yelling at Dave (Rivers) or yelling at Benny because they pass open shots…it opens up the floor for you as scorers when they are knocking down shots. Teams can’t concentrate on me and Shavon. If Benny knocks down shots, they know they have to guard him.”
Miles felt Parker looked in rhythm on Thursday night and his teammates found him in the right spots.
“"I have the ultimate trust in Benny,” said Miles. “I never tell him not to shoot. I always say don't hesitate. I know he is going to take smart shots. There are some other guys I need to reign in, but he is not one of them. He is a guy I believe in. I know he can make those shots.”
* At 1-2 in conference play, it’s actually the best start for Nebraska since joining the Big Ten. In the previous three seasons, the Huskers started 0-4. “It’s a little relief, but we have a lot of work to do to go where we want to go,” said Petteway.
* Rutgers head coach Eddie Jordan, who was issued a technical foul in the second half, only spoke to the media for about 90 seconds in the post-game presser.
“Petteway had his way with their pick and rolls. We didn't take away his strengths--we have been pretty good executing our game plan of taking away certain strengths teams have,” said Jordan. “Tonight, we didn't do it. We got out-classed. Just one of those nights."
* Forward Nick Fuller had 4 points and 4 rebounds (3 offensive) in 8 minutes - an extended look for the redshirt freshman. “He needs to work on his communication,” said Miles. “He had about three errors where he was involved with another player and he did not communicate what was going on and so we had a scoring error. That has to get cleaned up immediately. He has a lot of things going in his mind, but had four points and four rebounds including a couple offensive boards. His activity level was better, and I think we are better with him"
After two games this week and a game on Sunday, Nebraska will only shoot free-throws on Friday and watch Illinois game film.