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updated: 3/9/2014 11:37 PM

Cornhuskers stay red-hot, upend 9th-ranked Badgers

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  • Nebraska's Terran Petteway (5) shoots over Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes (10) in the second half in Lincoln, Neb., Sunday.

      Nebraska's Terran Petteway (5) shoots over Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes (10) in the second half in Lincoln, Neb., Sunday.
    Associated Press

  • Nebraska's Benny Parker (3) grabs the ball from Wisconsin's Traevon Jackson (12) in the second half in Lincoln, Neb., Sunday.

      Nebraska's Benny Parker (3) grabs the ball from Wisconsin's Traevon Jackson (12) in the second half in Lincoln, Neb., Sunday.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

Tim Miles is tired of hearing about the old Nebraska program that made a habit of bumbling and stumbling its way through the past two decades. His players must be tired of it, too.

Shavon Shields and Terran Petteway scored 26 points apiece, and the host Cornhuskers beat No. 9 Wisconsin 77-68 on Sunday night to strengthen the school's chance for its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1998.

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The Huskers (19-11, 11-7) won for the 10th time in 12 games to clinch fourth place in the Big Ten for their highest conference finish since 1997-98. The Badgers (25-6, 12-6) had their longest conference winning streak since 1940-41 end at eight games.

"That's what we want Husker basketball to be about and that's what we want it to continue to be about," Miles said. "We've had a good run, a really good run. But we're only halfway through the journey."

Miles, in his second year at Nebraska, said the hard times the previous two coaches endured don't exist in his mind.

"This is my program. We don't carry any baggage," he said. "Everywhere we've been, I've been surrounded by great people and we win, and we're going to keep doing it. So all that cursed (junk), all of the hexing and vexing and all that (stuff) that goes with it is exactly that."

The game was billed as "No-Sit Sunday," with Miles imploring fans to stay on their feet the whole game. The amped-up sellout crowd of 15,998 at Pinnacle Bank Arena lived up to the occasion, helping the Huskers beat Wisconsin for the first time in five meetings since they joined the Big Ten three years ago.

Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan wasn't interested in discussing his team's NCAA seeding possibilities.

"I don't even know what you're talking about," he said. "You guys don't know me. No. 1 seed for what? We're the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten tournament. That's the only thing I know."

The Badgers were runners-up to Michigan in the regular season and will open the Big Ten tournament on Friday against Minnesota or Penn State.

Frank Kaminsky led Wisconsin with 14 points.

Ohio St. 69, Michigan St. 67:

Aaron Craft led Ohio State's voracious defense down the stretch -- even diving for a big rebound in the final 25 seconds -- helping the host Buckeyes rally past No. 22 Michigan State. A lot of Buckeyes made big plays down the stretch as the Spartans went scoreless for the final 4:30. Ohio State (23-8, 10-8 Big Ten) scored the final 4 points.

The Spartans (23-8, 12-6) had the ball with the game tied at 67-67, but Adreian Payne lost it to Craft with just over a minute left for Michigan State's 16th turnover. Payne finished with 23 points.

Minnesota 81, Penn St. 63:

Austin Hollins had 14 points and 3 steals in his last scheduled home game, a fitting senior spark for Minnesota in a victory over Penn State.

The Gophers' win set up a rematch between these teams in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.

DeAndre Mathieu led the Golden Gophers (19-12, 8-10) with 16 points and six assists, Mo Walker scored 16 points on a career-best 8-for-10 free-throw shooting performance, and Minnesota locked up seventh place in coach Richard Pitino's first season.

D.J. Newbill had 15 of his 24 points in the second half for the Nittany Lions (15-16, 6-12), who tied for 10th in the conference standings with Northwestern and drew the higher seed because they beat the Wildcats earlier this week.

Minnesota and Penn State will play on Thursday in Indianapolis, with the winner advancing to the quarterfinals to face Wisconsin.

The Gophers badly needed to win this to keep their NCAA tournament bid viable, and even another victory over the Lions four days later might not be enough to get in. Seven losses in the 10-game stretch prior to this, including defeats to the Big Ten's last two finishers, Northwestern and Purdue, a 2-7 conference road record don't look good.

But whatever happens next weekend when the brackets are filled out, the Gophers finished on a high note in honor of Hollins and the three other players who won't return next season.

Hollins had 57 points over his last three games, the most in such a stretch of his career. He scored first on a short flip shot from the lane, and the Gophers surged to a 23-3 lead that looked it belonged on the football scoreboard across the street.

Fellow senior Maverick Ahanmisi, whose playing time dwindled with the arrival of three newcomers in the backcourt that Pitino brought in, matched his career high with 13 points. He went 3 for 6 from 3-point range.

Ahanmisi played only 47 minutes total over the first 17 conference games and scored just two points.

Even Oto Osenieks, who will skip his last year of eligibility because of a persistent knee injury, joined the fun by throwing an inbound pass and promptly returning to the bench in the final minute with a wave to the crowd.

The other senior, Malik Smith, went scoreless. In his last six games, he totaled eight points on 1-for-23 shooting, including a 1-for-20 mark from 3-point range.

The Gophers led by as much as 51-26 in the second half, until Newbill helped bring the Lions back to within nine points at 55-46. But the Gophers pulled away again by hitting their free throws down the stretch. They had their fast break in full gear most of the game, thanks to 21 defensive rebounds and 10 steals that propelled it.

Tim Frazier added 14 points, going 10 for 12 from the foul line, for the Lions.

They've had some triumphs this season, with two wins over Ohio State and a victory at Indiana in one of the Big Ten's most daunting arenas for visiting teams, but they're still trying to climb out of the bottom of the conference under third-year coach Patrick Chambers. They're 12-42 in Big Ten play since he was hired.

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