LINCOLN, Neb. – In front of the biggest home game atmosphere of the season, Nebraska’s offense went dry in overtime and the Huskers fell to No. 21 Miami, 77-72 on Tuesday night in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Nebraska senior Shavon Shields scored 28 points in the losing effort, but battled a cramp late in regulation and during overtime after being kicked. The Kansas City native finished 11 of 25 from the field, pulling down five rebounds in 40 minutes of play.
Despite falling in an early 12-3 hole, Nebraska (5-3) battled much of the night and was in position to pull the upset late in the game.
The loss drops Nebraska to 0-3 against ranked teams this season. Two of the losses came in close contests, but head coach Tim Miles doesn’t believe in moral victories this season, despite playing three true freshman an average of 17+ minutes in the rotation.
“I don’t want to be ‘The Little Engine That Could.’ I don’t want to be that program,” said Miles. “I don’t mean to be relentless on these guys or whatever it might be, but we had some freshmen that have got to get in the fight.
“That was a fistfight so to speak. When you go in that alley, you’ve got to go in ready to go. I thought we had a couple of young guys tonight that weren’t quite there mentally, weren’t quite there physically. It was moving pretty fast for them. Hopefully they’ll be able to adjust the next time that happens.”
Down three under 30 seconds left in regulation, one of those freshman, Glynn Watson, hit a three-pointer from the top of the key to tie the game at 68. After a Miami timeout, Nebraska held the Hurricanes’ offense in the final 18-seconds to force overtime.
“At that point, you’re just trying to stop the ball from going in the hoop, and our timeouts, we weren’t talking a whole lot of strategy,” said junior guard Andrew White. “At that point you know it’s just a man-to-man, stop your man from scoring and get the rebound.
In the final five minutes, Nebraska managed to score only four points, failing to hit from the field. Shields, who was slowed by the injury, missed three shots and a free throw. But, his effort earlier in the game couldn’t be ignored.
“Shavon’s as good a player as I think there is in the Big Ten,” said Miles. “He only played 20 minutes against Cincinnati, but when he was on the floor there, I thought he was the best player on the floor. I thought tonight, he was as good as anybody on the floor, maybe better and that’s a top-notch ACC team, I would imagine. I think that he’s just developing and growing into a better and better player.”
After the game, Miami head coach Jim Larranaga was very complimentary of Nebraska.
“Well, first, watching them on tape, they’re dripple-drive offense is very, very effective,” said Larranaga. “They’ve got a number of different guys, options. They can put the ball on the ground and get to the rim. (Tai) Webster is really good at it. (Glynn) Watson (Jr.) is good. (Benny) Parker is very good of getting in there and then kicking it out to someone. The guy that’s a monster is Shields, who… he’s like a guard, but he’s like their four man. We normally start Ivan Cruz Uceda, but he’s 6-10 and normally guards post players and I didn’t want him trying to guard that guy and getting in foul trouble and putting Shields on the foul line.”