At the onset of Nebraska’s 68-55 Big Ten loss at Indiana, Fred Hoiberg’s club looked as if it had recovered from the tired leg syndrome it had to have acquired during Wednesday’s 104-100 quadruple overtime loss at North Carolina State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
As the first half unfolded, however, it appeared as if the Cornhuskers were still struggling after arriving back in Lincoln at 3 a.m. Thursday following the marathon contest.
“Had some good looks, unfortunately, they just weren’t falling,” Hoiberg said during the Husker Sports Network’s postgame show. “Whether it was legs not being back from the other night, or whatever it was, we just did not convert when we had opportunities or had good looks, which obviously could’ve been a different outcome had that happened.”
After Nebraska fell behind 2-0 on Saturday, Husker freshman Bryce McGowens gave Hoiberg’s squad its first lead of the game when he buried a jumper from beyond the arc following Alonzo Verge, Jr.’s two free throws to open the scoring for Nebraska.
Derrick Walker and Verge, Jr. then scored on a layup and a pull up jumper respectively to put Nebraska up 9-2 with 15-minutes, 45-seconds left in the opening half. Following a layup from Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis, the Huskers poured in five more points to boost its advantage to 14-4.
But after Jackson-Davis and Nebraska’s Kobe Webster traded baskets, Indiana went to work chipping away at Nebraska’s advantage. Indiana cut the deficit to 16-13 on Michael Durr’s jumper with 7:40 left in the opening half.
Indiana, who fell 112-110 in double overtime to Syracuse in its Big Ten/ACC Challenge Tuesday evening, then warmed up from beyond the arc late in the half, burying three of them, and outscoring Nebraska 13-6 the rest of the half to take a 26-22 advantage at intermission.
Walker cut Indiana’s lead to 26-24 12-seconds into the second half. But the Hoosiers scored a quick five points on a 3-pointer from Parker Stewart and Xavier Johnson’s lay in following a steal of the ensuing inbounds pass to take a 31-24 advantage with 19:22 left in the contest, their largest lead of the contest to that point. Nebraska never got closer than five points after that.
Indiana took game-high leads of 15 points twice in the second half at 51-36 and 67-52 with 55-seconds left in the game and led the entire second half. Nebraska, meanwhile led for 12-minutes, 30-seconds of the opening 20-minutes of play.
Jackson-Davis led the Hoosiers with 14 points, seven rebounds, four blocked shots and three steals. Tamar Bates chipped in with 13 points while Thompson added a double-double 11 points and 11 rebounds. Stewart and Johnson finished with nine and eight points respectively.
Verge, Jr. finished the contest with a game-high 15 points and had five rebounds and three assists. McGowens and Walker had eight points a piece while Webster added seven points.
Going into the contest, Indiana ranked 326th out of 350 teams nationally by averaging 17 giveaways per contest. But it was the Hoosiers, who had 15 turnovers in the contest, that took advantage of Nebraska’s 14 errors. Indiana outscored the Huskers 21-11 in points off of turnovers, including 15 in the decisive second half.
Indiana’s first half rally took place with all five of their starters on the bench, allowing the Hoosier bench to outscore Nebraska’s 26-17. Both clubs shot below 40 percent from the field in the opening half, but warmed up in the final frame. Nebraska made 14 of 31 shots from the field in the second frame while Indiana scored on 12 of 27 shots from the field in the game’s final 20 minutes.
Both teams took 22 shots from beyond the arc with the Hoosiers drilling eight of them and Nebraska knocking down five, including four of their final six. The Hoosiers ripped the cords on 14 of 17 free throws while Nebraska made four of their five charity tosses.
Nebraska (5-4, 0-1 B1G) hosts Michigan at Pinnacle Bank Arena Tuesday, Dec. 7 at 6 pm and travels to Atlanta to battle Auburn Saturday, Dec. 11 at 10:30 am in the Holiday Hoopsgiving.
The Hoosiers (7-1, 1-0 B1G), meanwhile, travel to Wisconsin Wednesday, Dec. 8 for a 7 p.m. tipoff against another B1G foe and host Merrimack at noon Sunday, Dec. 12.