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Penn State vs. Nebraska Preview: Shields Expected Back for Huskers

Nebraska's star senior Shavon Shields was absent for the second half beatdown of Penn State in Lincoln, but the Nittany Lions are riding high after two straight wins.

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports
Who: Nebraska Cornhuskers (14-14, 6-9)
When: Thursday, 7 p.m. ET
Where: Bryce Jordan Center
KenPom Rank: 93
Vegas Line: PSU -1
Enemy Blog: Corn Nation

Penn State avoided a scare after a brief flirt with disaster at Rutgers, but with that win in Piscataway they'll have the opportunity to win three consecutive Big Ten regular season games in a row for the first time in over two years. That last stretch came in January 2014, and it began against tonight's opponent.

Nebraska comes into the BJC playing with a bit of urgency. Losers of two straight, including Saturday night's tight loss against noted floor-slappers Ohio State, Tim Miles desperately is hoping to avoid the Wednesday play in game:

Guess what everybody, it's time to play America's favorite game:

Which Body Part Did Tim Miles Tell His Players He Would Willingly Give Up to Avoid Playing Minnesota or Rutgers?

Probably his junk? Idk Tim, I don't know why you have to be so cryptic about this. Everyone is gonna assume you're talking about your junk in this scenario.

Scouting The Opposition

As the headline says, Shavon Shields will travel to State College and is expected to be a game-time decision. Even if he is able to make his return, there's bound to be some rust and conditioning issues for the star senior. If the first game in the series was any indication however, the Huskers have all the star power they need in Andrew White III. A career-high 35 points from the Kansas transfer fueled a furious second half for the hosts, while the visiting Nittany Lions sputtered on offense.

White III is working through some struggles of his own right now though after a 3-17 shooting night against Ohio State. Aussie freshman Jack McVeigh picked up some of that slack with a 5-10 night from beyond the arc to keep the Huskers in the game until the 45th minute. It's doubtful that Nebraska will be able to ride White III for that type of explosive performance again, but with Shields back and McVeigh's emergence there's no need for them to one-dimensional in the attack again.

What To Watch For

That second half in Lincoln was a complete mess for Penn State, and it all started with Brandon Taylor picking up his second and third fouls 15 seconds into the half. From there it unraveled pretty quickly as the Lions were without their statistical and emotional leader for six minutes. Those six minutes proved to be the difference maker as White led a 13-0 run without Taylor on the floor. Fresh off Big Ten player of the week honors, look for BT to have a much bigger impact at home.

Nebraska also lacks an interior defender, an aspect of their roster which Penn State failed to take advantage of at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The suddenly surging Donovon Jack will be chomping at the bit for a second straight game in which he doesn't have a competent post defender trying to stop him.


Momentum is huge. Penn State has it right now, but it's only a poor outside shooting night from disappearing into thin air. Nebraska's proven capable of winning on the road this season too, including a dramatic win at the Breslin Center against a healthy Denzel Valentine and Michigan State. The return of Shields should give the Huskers an added mental boost even if he's limited in his minutes, but all things considered I still like the hosts here. They've got to be able to find easy buckets on the inside and Taylor's got to continue to find the open man out of the double team, and these are both things that PSU has been doing well for seven of the last eight halves. Penn State 71, Nebraska 67.