Nebraska’s season came to an end on Wednesday night, but before the final buzzer sounded on the 89-64 loss to Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament, Coach Fred Hoiberg had already left the bench.
BTN sideline reporter Mike Hall shared on the telecast that Hoiberg said he was feeling under the weather but chose to try to make it through the game anyway. Hoiberg left the court during the under-4 media timeout in the second half and Doc Sadler finished coaching the game.
Nebraska did not attend the post-game press conference and Stadium’s Jeff Goodman reported that Hoiberg was being taken to the hospital. Nebraska’s team has been quarantined to its locker room at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, a source confirmed to Hail Varsity.
During the first play-in game between Minnesota and Northwestern, the Big Ten announced the tournament access for fans would be restricted for Thursday’s games and onward in response to growing concern over the COVID-19 pandemic. Other conference tournaments did the same, while the Ivy League cancelled its tournament altogether.
Nebraska played well early, holding a narrow lead for most of the first six minutes thanks to a 4-for-8 start from 3, but a 12-2 run put the Hoosiers ahead 23-16 as Nebraska went ice cold, missing severn-of-eight shots. Nebraska righted the ship and surged ahead 33-27 with just over four minutes to go in the first half, but things fell apart from there.
Between the end of the first half and the start of the season, Indiana put together a 31-5 run to take a 58-38 lead. Nebraska made one last push, cutting the deficit down to nine at 70-61 with a 14-2 run including nine points from freshman forward Kevin Cross Jr.
The Huskers ran out of gas at that point, however, as the Hoosiers closed the game on a 19-3 run. With 2:39 to go and Nebraska down one, Sadler sent Noah Vedral and Brant Banks, the football players on loan from Scott Frost, into the game to close it out. Both had a couple chances to score but neither one managed to convert.
Cross led all scorers with a career-high 23 points on 7-of-17 from the field, 4-of-9 from 3 and 5-of-5 from the foul line and he also grabbed a career-high nine rebounds. Senior Haanif Cheatham closed out his collegiate career with 17 points, five rebounds and three assists. Jervay Green chipped in 15 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Nebraska shot 30% from the field for the game including 8-of-30 (26.7%) from 3.
Indiana outscored Nebraska 40-24 in the paint and shot 53% from the field including 9-of-22 (40.9%) from 3. Freshman forward Trayce Jackson-Davis grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds and was one of five Hoosiers in double figures with 11 points. Indiana completed the season-sweep over the Huskers after going 2-0 against Nebraska during the regular season.
The Huskers (7-25) finished the season on a 17-game losing streak.
Hail Varsity will continue to monitor Hoiberg’s situation.
UPDATE, 11:38 p.m., March 11
Nebraska released a statement late on Wednesday night regarding Hoiberg.
“Before tonight’s Nebraska-Indiana men’s basketball game in the Big Ten Conference Tournament, Nebraska Head Coach Fred Hoiberg was checked by medical personnel. Hoiberg became ill as the game progressed and left the bench area late in the second half for precautionary reasons. Hoiberg was subsequently transported to Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis for further evaluation. Hoiberg was diagnosed with influenza A (common cold). He has since been released and has returned to the team hotel.”
The team had previously been released from its quarantine at the arena and returned to the team hotel.
Jacob Padilla has been writing for Hail Varsity since 2015. He covers football, volleyball men’s basketball and prep sports. He also co-hosts the Nebraska Preps Postgame and Nebraska Shootaround podcasts for the Hurrdat Media and Hail Varsity podcast networks. 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.