An early 18-point deficit and and a 13-point Hoosier advantage in second-chance points proved to be too much to overcome against Indiana as Nebraska dropped its 22nd straight Big Ten game Sunday night.
The Huskers rallied to take a three-point lead in the second half but couldn’t sustain that level of effort, execution and pace for the full 20 minutes in the second half.
Nebraska played without center Yvan Ouedraogo and though the Huskers only gave up 12 offensive rebounds, the Hoosiers capitalized on most of them for 16 second-chance points. The Huskers missed too many box-out opportunities, especially with their best rebounder not in the building.
“Part of it is with Yvan out of the lineup for an extended period right now, we’re going to have to find a way with smaller lineups to be able to compete on the glass,” Hoiberg said. “Shamiel [Stevenson] I thought gave us great minutes tonight and a lot of those minutes were at the five. When we’re small like that, we have to do an unbelievable job every time of hitting first and making physical cut-outs rebounding the ball.”
Teddy Allen led the Huskers with 21 points and five rebounds. After hitting two of his three 3-point opportunities against Michigan State, Lat Mayen shot 5-of-9 for 15 points and grabbed six rebounds. Dalano Banton had 10 points, seven assists and six rebounds.
In his first game in a Husker uniform, Derrick Walker got the start in Ouedraogo’s absence and played 26 minutes, contributing 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
The Huskers shot 45.6% from the field, 39.1% from 3 and 68.2% from the free-throw line. Indiana shot 46.2% from the field, 37.5% from 3 and 60% from the foul line. The Huskers and Hoosiers both finished with the same number of 3s and free throws.
Indiana, who had made just 6.1 3s per game on 33.2% in its first 12 games, came out firing from deep and hit six of their first eight 3-pointers — and 11 of their first 15 shots overall — as they raced out to a 31-13 lead.
After a good showing against Michigan State, Nebraska fell right back into its offensive rut with five early turnovers and trouble converting inside the arc.
Shamiel Stevenson gave the Huskers a spark after the slow start, however, earning the Huskers first trip to the free-throw line and splitting the shots then converting a layup on the next possession. Allen hit a pair of free throws then found Stevenson in the lane who kicked it to Mayen in the corner for his third triple of the first half.
The 8-0 run got the Huskers back within striking distance and made it a 10-point game. The Hoosiers pushed the lead back to 15 before a three-point play by Allen sparked a 7-0 Huskers run that got them within eight with 2:25 to go in the half.
The Huskers didn’t score the rest of the half, however, as a pair of second-chance buckets including a tip-slam at the buzzer by Trey Galloway gave the Hoosiers a 46-34 lead at halftime.
Point guard Rob Phinisee scored 16 points and shot 3-of-4 from deep in the first half while the Huskers held their star big man Trayce Jackson-Davis without a field goal. However, the Hoosiers shot 52.9% from the field in the first half, but after the 6-for-8 start from deep they made just one of their last five attempts.
“We were trying to take away Davis and some of their shooters that had not been shooting the ball well unfortunately knocked down shots in that first half.”
Allen led Nebraska with 12 points while Mayen added nine, though he only played 12 minutes after picking up two fouls. Nebraska shot 5-of-10 from 3 but just 4-of-14 on layups in the first half.
Indiana opened the half with a Race Thompson 3 from the top of the key, but the Huskers cut it to eight again with a 7-0 run. Indiana wiped that out with seven straight on its end. After trading scores, Nebraska really buckled down on defense and started pushing the pace off of those stops.
A dunk by Walker sparked a 19-4 run for the Huskers. A drive and kick from McGowens to Kobe Webster in the left corner gave Nebraska its first lead since 2-0. The lead changed hands a few times until a pair of free throws by McGowens tied the game at 71-all with 5:06 to play.
After a scoreless first half (0-of-5 shooting around the basket), McGowens was a big part of the comeback as he was often the one pushing the pace with the pass ahead or off the bounce himself. He converted all three of his layup attempts and earned three trips to the foul line, making four of the five shots in the second half.
“Trey was phenomenal,” Hoiberg said. “I think the difference in Trey’s second half, he was so much under control. First half, I thought he went in there and tried to throw something up between a couple players. We showed a couple clips at halftime of how they were collapsing on the ball and I thought he made every right decision in the second half and really got us into it in so many different ways. Defensively, his energy, making the right play whether it was a finish at the basket, getting to the to the free-throw line or the kick-out. I think six assists and only one turnover for Trey, so that was phenomenal. His last two games his attack mode, that’s exactly what we need out of Trey.”
Then the offense dried up again as the Huskers scored one point on their next four possessions thanks to three missed free throws by Banton sandwiched by a pair of missed 3s. After the Huskers had mostly held him in check, Jackson-Davis took over late and scored six straight Indiana points to put the Hoosiers up five with less than three minutes to play.
“We got, actually, some pretty good things accomplished in the last four minutes,” Hoiberg said. “We missed two layups right at the rim. We missed four free throws, so we did a good job getting to the line. Lat got a really good look on a play that we just put in yesterday, a really good look at a 3, and we’ll take that every day of the week, especially the way Lat was shooting the ball tonight. I thought execution-wise we were better than we had been; we just have to convert. That will come as hopefully we gain confidence to know we can win and the execution down the stretch will lead to those baskets.”
Allen finally snapped the dry spell with a 3 to cut it to a two-point game and the Huskers forced a miss by Jerome Hunter on the other end, but the ball bunch right back to him for a layup and then Allen got whistled for an offensive foul on a 3-point attempt with 1:21 to go.
“Those first six, seven, eight minutes and then the rebounds — Lat had a great contest in the corner,” Hoiberg said. “Unfortunately the ball bounced right back to Hunter and he laid it in, having a two point game that went to four. I thought Teddy, they called the offensive foul, but looking back at it, we’ll see what it was first, the hit in the arm or him sweeping the leg.”
Nebraska scored one point the rest of the way as Jackson-Davis and Aljami Durham sealed it at the free-throw line. Jackson-Davis scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half with 10 of those coming in the last eight minutes. Phinisee only scored two points in the second half.
The Huskers will see one of the Big Ten’s best swing through Lincoln as Illinois is next up on the schedule. Tipoff for Wednesday’s game is set for 8 p.m. CT on Big Ten Network.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.