Fred Hoiberg revealed on Saturday afternoon that the issues that led to the postponement of Tuesday’s game at Purdue came from Nebraska’s side, but Sunday’s home game against is on as scheduled.
The teams mutually agreed to postpone Tuesday’s game “out of an abundance of caution surrounding the health and safety of the student-athletes, coaches and staff.”
“The most important thing right now with everything going on is the health and safety of our student athletes,” Hoiberg said. “I talked to Matt Painter and I talked to the officials at the Big Ten and we felt the best approach was to reschedule our game. I give Matt a lot of credit for absolutely 100% being on board with it. When you have something like what happened with our team this last week, the right approach in our minds was the cautious one, to make sure that we had everybody healthy.”
Hoiberg said he doesn’t have any updates about when the game might be rescheduled. The people responsible for scheduling are exploring a lot of options, and bye weeks don’t match up for Purdue and Nebraska later in the season. Hoiberg sad they may need to shuffle some games around to make it work, but for the time being the Huskers are moving forward according to their current schedule.
“Everyone has tested negative since that time,” Hoiberg said. “We will have one of our players that will be out tomorrow and other than that, we are ready to go. We had to take a couple days off to make sure everyone was negative, which everybody was. We got back on the practice court yesterday and had another workout today. We’ll have a shoot-around tomorrow getting ready for our game against Indiana at 5.”
The Huskers last played at home against Michigan State on Jan. 2, falling to Michigan State 84-77. The Huskers fell behind by as much as 17 early in the second half before rallying to within five. Hoiberg called the comeback one of their best stretches of the season, but they missed a couple of opportunities to make plays at the tail end of it and couldn’t get over the hump.
“I really was pleased, going back and watching, with how we responded to the run that they had in the second half,” Hoiberg said. “Now our big challenge in the second half moving forward is finding a way not to give up those runs. It’s been a theme starting the second half not getting off to a good start, or we’ll get off to a good start and then have a lull shortly thereafter from the first media to the second media timeout in the second half. That’s what we’re going to have to find a way to eliminate if we’re going to find a way to win these games.”
The Huskers had one of their best offensive games of the season against the Spartans with Teddy Allen and Trey McGowens combining for 43 points while the team as a whole shot 474% from 3, but defense, turnovers and second-half rebounding woes made the shooting success moot.
The Hoosiers (7-5, 2-3 Big Ten) are coming off their own heartbreaker, falling to Wisconsin 80-73 in double-overtime on Thursday.
“I thought they played phenomenal basketball and lost in double-overtime against one of the top teams in the country, at Wisconsin on the road,” Hoiberg said. “It’s going to be a big challenge coming in. It’s a physical team that gets a lot accomplished in the paint and at the free-throw line. So we have to do a good job with their physicality; we have to do much better than we did against Ohio State.”
The Hoosiers run everything through their standout sophomore post Trayce Jackson-Davis. The 6-foot-9, 245-pound forward is averaging 20.5 points on 54% shooting, 9.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks. Jackson-Davis put up 54 points on 69% shooting, 34 rebounds, eight blocks and seven assists in two games against Nebraska as a freshman.
“He’s really added to his game,” Hoiberg said. “He’s excellent off the dribble right now. He’s getting the ball in the pocket a lot, or at the free-throw line, and that’s where they hurt us last year in the second half is getting the ball to the nail. Last year it was [Justin] Smith or Jackson-Davis and they were just going to work on us. He’s a heck of a player. I played with his dad for four years in Indiana and he’s got some of that same temperament that his dad, Dale Davis, had as far as getting to the rim, finishing with authority. He’s incredibly athletic. He can really run … He was absolutely phenomenal in that game against Wisconsin the other night. Just a really versatile big that can hurt you from all over the floor and an incredible finisher and rebounder. We have to do a good job of hopefully matching his physicality.”
Jackson-Davis had 23 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks against the Badgers on Thursday. He’s not the only sophomore having a great season for the Hoosiers, however. Armaan Franklin, a 6-foot-4 guard, is second on the team in scoring at 12.7 points while shooting 47.6% from deep. However, the rest of the team is shooting a combined 29.1% from 3 this season.
Derrick Walker spoke with the media on Monday ahead of what was supposed to be his Nebraska debut at Purdue, then he found out shortly after he’d have to wait a few more days with the postponement. Now he’ll be a big part of Nebraska’s game plan against Jackson-Davis, regardless of how many minutes he’ll be able to give the Huskers right away.
“He was obviously very disappointed,” Hoiberg said. “He sat a long time to get ready for that first opportunity and then to be told, ‘Well, we’re going to have to push that back a week based on what happened to us earlier in the week.’ But he’s ready, he’s excited, his teammates are excited, the staff is excited to get him out there. But as I talked about earlier, to sit out for almost two years, to be the guy that I think people may expect to come in and be the one that gets us over the hump or be the savior, he’s got a lot of work to do before he gets into true game shape. We try to run him extra and get him extra work out there on the floor but until you actually experience that game action, there’s going to be some ups and downs on the road back to being on the active roster.”
Tipoff on Sunday is set for 5 p.m. on Big Ten Network with Larry Punteney and Shon Morris on the call.
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.