At just 13-10 on the season and 5-6 in the Big Ten heading into Sunday, the Nebraska Cornhuskers were seemingly outmatched before their showdown with the No. 9 Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing.
That's why games are played on the court rather than on paper.
Thanks to leading scorer Terran Petteway and a huge game from sophomore Walter Pitchford, the Cornhuskers pulled off another memorable win over the Spartans by a final of 60-51.
No. 9 Michigan State blows golden opportunity to take control of Big Ten race with 60-51 loss to Nebraska http://t.co/U7ORW9BjN8— Spartans News (@SpartansMLive) February 16, 2014
The Huskers were in control throughout the contest, taking a 32-25 lead into the half. During the intermission, coach Tim Miles tweeted his thoughts on the game:
It was a good half and we have to keep battling in the second half. Nothing was easy, and I expect that to continue.— Tim Miles (@CoachMiles) February 16, 2014
Following the huge win for Miles and Nebraska, Tim Doyle of the Big Ten Network said his ballot is already completed for the conference Coach of the Year award:
There's your Coach of the Year for B1G hoops. Tim Miles is a basketball genius!— Tim Doyle (@TimDoyle00) February 16, 2014
Petteway finished the game with 23 points and five rebounds, including going 4-of-10 from three-point range. The sophomore has averaged over 17 points per game this season and played up to the task against the Spartans.
As for his teammate Pitchford, the sophomore dumped in another 18 points and five rebounds. His point total is nearly 10 points more than his season average, but it marks the fifth time in the last six games that he has scored in double digits.
The win is Nebraska's third straight and fifth out of its last six, prompting Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated to mention them as a bubble team for the NCAA tournament:
Nebraska is now 6-6 in the Big Ten with road wins at Ohio State and Michigan State. Does that sound like a bubble team to you? Yup. Me too.— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) February 16, 2014
Is Nebraska a NCAA tournament team?
While it was a huge day for the Cornhuskers, the Spartans dropped yet another game and fall to 3-4 in their last seven games, exchanging losses and wins during that span. Gary Harris finished with 18 points, but went just 5-of-15 from the field and 1-of-7 from behind the arc.
The Cornhuskers are now slowly making a case for a bid to the NCAA tournament, even at 14-10.
With Nebraska playing against five teams who all rank at the bottom of the Big Ten before a matchup with currently No. 21 Wisconsin, the Huskers have a chance at a 20-win season heading into the conference tournament.
Meanwhile, Michigan State is firmly planting itself outside of the picture for a No. 1 seed. Though the Spartans are still a top-10 team for this week and have a plethora of injuries, they have a lot of work to do to get back in the talks for a top seed.
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