LINCOLN — Nebraska's victory against Penn State marked the first time that point guard Tai Webster had been summoned for postgame interviews since a win over Georgia.
That was 88 days earlier.
Players who perform well get requested. The time gap indicates a disappointing success rate in the eyes of Husker fans who expected big things from the 6-foot-4 freshman out of New Zealand, who was touted as a potential top 50 recruit.
One person, though, knew the transition from international ball to major-college action would take time for an 18-year-old 7,000 miles from home for the first time.
“I knew what it was going to be like,” he said. “It's been a journey. I've had my ups and downs. I've enjoyed it a lot. I love coming out here playing every night in front of the fans, whether it's home or away.
“Being able to play college basketball has been a dream my whole life. To do it in Division I, it's amazing.”
Against Penn State, Webster hit double figures (10 points) for the first time since that Georgia game Nov. 24. He added five rebounds, three assists and a steal.
“It felt good,” he said. “I just got back to playing and not thinking about the game too much. Just letting the points come and hitting open players when I see them. I had a real good time out there.”
Webster also was instrumental in helping limit Penn State guards D.J. Newbill and Tim Frazier to 23.1 percent shooting in the game's first 32 minutes.
“He's been tough on the ball,” NU guard Terran Petteway said. “That's why his offense has gotten better is because he's playing tough on the defensive end.”
The offensive statistics overall are still lacking. In 25 minutes per game, Webster averages 4.9 points and 2.3 rebounds, with 55 assists to 48 turnovers. He shoots 32.4 percent from the field, including 17.9 percent on 3-pointers.
Though Webster still starts, his playing time has declined lately with the emergence of backup point guard Benny Parker.
Nebraska coach Tim Miles sees that as a good thing.
“I think it's relieved him,” Miles said. “He doesn't have to be the only one. When he comes to the bench, somebody is going to pick him up.
“Tai really cares about the team and wants the team to win. So he's got a bit of a sense of relief.”
Parker also has taught Webster some lessons.
“It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out,” Miles said, “that when Benny is lighting up the ball and we're raiding the elbows (double-teaming off a screen) and that turns into a fast break that that's pretty good for our team.”
Webster agreed that Parker has helped him improve.
“He brings energy and a spark to the team every single day in practice,” Webster said. “He pushes me to the limit. We need that.”
No practice for Pitchford
Miles said forward Walter Pitchford, who injured his left knee against Penn State, wouldn't practice Friday, and that his status for Sunday's game against Purdue remains unclear.
The 6-10 sophomore had to be helped from the floor with 8:02 left after PSU's Donovon Jack dove into Pitchford's legs scrambling for the ball.
No structural damage to the knee was found. Dealing with bruising and soreness apparently is the issue. Pitchford left the arena on his own with no crutches. He even smiled and posed for pictures with some fans after the game.