LINCOLN, Neb. -- Shavon Shields scored 15 points to lead four Nebraska players in double figures, and the Cornhuskers rode a fast start to a 79-67 victory over Arkansas State on Saturday.
Kirk Van Slyke scored a career-high 27 points for Arkansas State (5-3), which was off to its best start in five years and had its three-game win streak end. Melvin Johnson III had 18 points for the Red Wolves, who couldn't overcome 21 turnovers and 38-percent first-half shooting.
The Huskers led by 28 points in the second half, and fans started leaving Pinnacle Bank Arena with just under 12 minutes to play and the Huskers up by 22.
Nebraska started the game on a 15-2 run, and Pitchford's 3-pointer and dunk on consecutive possessions highlighted a 13-4 spurt that made it 38-16. The Huskers shot 53 percent while getting out to a 50-27 lead -- their most points in a half since scoring 50 against Alabama State in December 2008.
Arkansas State, playing for the first time in 12 days, might have been down more at the break if it hadn't been for Van Slyke. The 6-foot-10 senior had 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting and was one of only three Red Wolves to score in the first 20 minutes. He finished 11 of 15.
Van Slyke scored seven points and Johnson seven during a 14-4 run that pulled the Red Wolves to 69-55 with 6 minutes left, the closest they had been since the middle of the first half. But Gallegos' 3-pointer and Petteway's steal and dunk made it a 19-point game. Arkansas State made one more run to get within 11 points with a minute to play.
Johnson, who came in shooting a nation-leading 64.3 percent on 3-pointers, was 3 of 5 from beyond the arc the first half.
The Huskers won the only other previous meeting with the Red Hawks, in the 1989 NIT.