Shields finding his groove for Huskers

2012-12-19T21:00:00Z 2012-12-28T18:30:13Z Shields finding his groove for HuskersBy BRIAN ROSENTHAL / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

That nifty spin move that Shavon Shields used to score in the paint Tuesday night against Jacksonville State?

Yeah, don’t get too used to it.

“I like to go to it,” Shields said, smiling. “But Coach Miles doesn’t like that move, so I should probably cut it out.”

Tim Miles will take everything else Shields did, though, in Nebraska’s 59-55 victory against Jacksonville State.

A true freshman guard, Shields scored a career-high 14 points to go with three rebounds, two steals, an assist and a blocked shot, all in 28 minutes.

“Shavon played his best game. That’s as good as I’ve seen him,” Miles said. “He threw us a lifeline for a long time.”

Shields’ performance is an encouraging sign for Nebraska, which has three nonconference games remaining before Big Ten play begins Jan. 2.

He’s still making up for lost time after a preseason elbow injury caused him to miss a month of practice and then five of Nebraska’s first six games.

“It’s feeling better. I’m getting more used to it,” Shields said. “Each game and each practice, I get back out there and get more into it. From high school to college, it’s a lot faster, more physical.”

Shields, who shot 6-of-7 from the field against Jacksonville State, credited his teammates for his scoring opportunities.

“Brandon (Ubel) and Ray (Gallegos) and Dylan (Talley) were all being keyed in on, so that opened things up for me,” Shields said. “Every time Dylan would drive, they’d crash in on him. Every time Ubel had the ball, they were looking that way, so it opened up cuts and lanes for me.

“The upperclassmen helped me out a lot. (Ubel) was telling me things that were open on offense and where I needed to be on defense and things like that.”

Miles also pointed to a couple of defensive plays Shields made in the first half during Nebraska’s 16-2 run. One play was when Shields stole the ball from Mason Leggett and zipped a pass down-court to Gallegos, who made a layup and converted a three-point play.

“That’s what I like about him — he’s around the ball a lot,” Miles said of Shields. “I’m surprised he doesn’t come up with the ball, rebound more, for as much as he’s around the ball. But he’ll tip it out; he’s just be around the ball.”

The 6-foot-6, 214-pound Shields is valuable because he can play a variety of positions for a Nebraska team that’s sorely lacking depth.

“I’ve always known he’s a good player, and he can do a lot of things for us,” Ubel said. “He understands the game so well. He has a good IQ, knows where to be on the floor, just kind of instinctively. Those things are falling into place now that he’s adjusted to the speed and the strength a little bit better.”

Ubel said he needs to continue to help Shields develop, as Nebraska prepares for bigger and faster competition in Big Ten play.

Before then, though, Nebraska (7-3) has two games this weekend in the Sun Bowl Invitational and a Dec. 29 home game against Nicholls State.

“If we want to get to any kind of postseason at all, we’ve got to gut these next few out,” Ubel said, “and then get into conference play and try to sneak a couple on the road and take care of home court.”

Reach Brian Rosenthal at 402-473-7436 or brosenthal@journalstar.com. You can follow him on Twitter @HuskerExtraBR.

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