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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — It’s not the worst crime to lose to Nebraska by double digits in Lincoln this season. Getting routed at home against Fred Hoiberg’s Huskers, though? Different story.

Thanks to an awful effort early, which resulted in the Assembly Hall faithful booing their team into the locker room at halftime, Indiana (14-12, 6-9 B1G) dropped a mid-week contest to Nebraska (19-8, 9-7 B1G), 85-70. It was Nebraska’s first road conference victory of the season after seven defeats.

Coming off a rough Sunday loss to Northwestern, Mike Woodson started his familiar five in Gabe Cupps, Trey Galloway, Mackenzie Mgbako, Malik Reneau, and Kel’el Ware.

The Hoosiers and Cornhuskers came out firing, shooting a combined 5-for-12 from three before the first media timeout. Nebraska’s Keisei Tominaga led the charge and hit three of his four deep shots.

Indiana found some success in the paint finding Ware and Reneau for a handful of buckets. IU’s struggle to find a consistent, competent offense continued. Poor perimeter shooting and sloppy transition offense spelled trouble early as the Hoosiers trailed by as many as 18.

On the defensive side, IU could not close out the perimeter. The Cornhuskers were shooting 8-16 from three with 5 minutes left in the first half. Nebraska’s quick off-ball movement and shifty guards opened up the floor and wore out the Hoosiers.

Indiana surged through an 8-2 run where forwards Mgbako, Reneau, and Ware dominated the key. They cut the Nebraska lead to 11. This momentum was soon snapped after a Nebraska and-one finish. The Hoosiers went back to using up the shot clock and throwing the ball at the rim.

The Cornhuskers closed out the half on a 9-0 scoring streak, giving them a 20-point lead. Nebraska led 51-31. Hoosier fans were less than thrilled, booing the team at the buzzer.

Indiana started chipping away, setting itself up nicely for a phenomenal comeback. How long would the effort last?

The Hoosiers started by cutting the Nebraska lead from 20 to 16. They began forcing turnovers, running down the opponent’s shot clock, and finishing in the paint on offense. The changes were small but meaningful.

Ware missed four consecutive free throws and Galloway caused a turnover – a series that usually stunts momentum. But Indiana kept working, forcing Nebraska into bad shots and capitalizing on turnovers and fast breaks. They went on a 22-4 scoring run, bringing the game within four points and 12 minutes remaining.

After a CJ Gunn three to bring the score to 59-56 Nebraska, the Cornhuskers scored a quick seven points to reset the margin back to double digits. A devastating three from Jamarques Lawrence gave Nebraska a 16-point advantage with 6 minutes left. Lawrence hit just 27% of his threes before tonight. At Assembly Hall, he went 5-for-5.

The match went back and forth. Indiana was within as few as nine but the Cornhuskers drained the shot clock and scored when necessary.

Too often, Indiana writes the build-up of the story, forgets the climax, and stays trapped in the never-ending falling action. Once again the Hoosiers unsuccessfully led a home comeback, conceding their third straight at Assembly Hall.

Next Up

Indiana heads back on the road to face the Penn State Nittany Lions at Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday. It’s a noon ET tip on BTN. The Nittany Lions made a crazy comeback on Wednesday night to knock off Illinois at Rec Hall. Kanye Clary, their leading scorer this season, has been dismissed from the team. The loser of this game will likely play on Wednesday of the Big Ten Tournament.

Featured Image: Big Ten Men’s Basketball / Twitter

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