Nebraska pulls away for 65-49 win over cold-shooting Rutgers
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields are going to continue to carry the offensive load for Nebraska, but it looks like they'll have more help the rest of the season.
The Cornhuskers unveiled a nine-man rotation for the first time with the return of two injured players, and it served them well in a 65-49 victory over Rutgers on Thursday night.
With Illinois coming to town Sunday and a trip to No. 4 Wisconsin next week, coach Tim Miles wants all hands on deck.
''I don't think there's any doubt that the guys kind of look at this like, `OK, this is finally us,' " Miles said. ''This is our squad. And those guys aren't close to being 100 percent, so it's not us, but at least we can have the personnel out there that can be effective.''
Petteway scored 20 points and Shields added 11 for the Huskers. Benny Parker and Walter Pitchford added nine apiece, and three other players contributed at least four points.
Leslee Smith played for the first time after having knee surgery in July, and Moses Abraham was back after missing seven games with a broken right hand. Those two give the Huskers some much-needed defensive presence in the post and allow Miles to provide more rest for David Rivers.
Miles also wants to increase swingman Nick Fuller's minutes. Fuller had four points and four rebounds while matching his season high of 13 minutes.
The Huskers shot 49 percent against the Knights, their best outing in 11 games.
''We want everybody to shoot,'' Petteway said. ''If you see us on the court, we're yelling at Dave or Benny (Parker) because they pass up open shots. Me and Shavon have to score, and that opens up the floor when they are knocking down shots because they can't just concentrate on me and Shavon driving.''
The Huskers (9-6, 1-2) are off to their best start in Big Ten play in their four years in the conference. Their previous starts were 0-4, 0-5 and 0-4.
Rutgers (9-7, 1-2) shot 34.7 percent and turned the ball over 19 times in its first-ever Big Ten road game. The Knights led by seven points early, but the lowest-scoring and worst-shooting team in the league struggled mightily after the opening 10 minutes.
Bishop Daniels had 12 points and Kadeem Jack had 11 for Rutgers.
''We started well and we sort of lost our offensive flow,'' Knights coach Eddie Jordan said. ''Our defense was good in the half-court, then we turned the ball over and we missed free throws. We got out-classed and it was just one of those nights.''
Rutgers: Rutgers has scored 47, 50 and 49 points in its first three Big Ten games. ... The Knights last visited Lincoln in December 2007 for a nonconference game that Nebraska won 63-51.
Nebraska: Abraham played 13 minutes and had five points and three rebounds. Smith had two rebounds and two assists in 13 minutes. ... Nebraska finished with 14 assists, matching a season high.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
''After we lost that last game (at Iowa Monday), I told myself I'm ready. I couldn't watch my team suffer inside any more.'' - Smith, on his decision to return Thursday.
Rutgers hosts Wisconsin on Sunday.
Nebraska hosts Illinois on Sunday.