At the start of the week Indiana was coming off a narrow win against Northwestern and a 12-point victory over then ranked No.11 Ohio State. The Hoosiers found a way to win after giving up the lead and falling behind against the Wildcats. Head coach Archie Miller’s squad then displayed a strong performance on both sides of the floor to derail the Buckeyes.
Flash forward to Wednesday and Indiana’s struggles returned against Rutgers in a 59-50 loss at the RAC. The Hoosiers went into a tough environment on the road and had their lowest scoring output of the season. IU shot 2-of-19 from the three-point line, recorded 16 turnovers, and were down by as much as 17.
The Hoosiers fell to 13-4 overall and 3-3 in the conference after the loss and now travel to Lincoln, Neb. Saturday for a rematch against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Both teams met back on Dec. 13 with Indiana grinding out a 96-90 victory in overtime.
Indiana holds the series lead at 13-7 and are 5-4 against Nebraska on the road. However, the Hoosiers last victory in Lincoln came back in 2016 after a 10-point victory at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
How to Watch
|Indiana Hoosiers at Nebraska Cornhuskers
|Saturday Jan. 18, 2020 7 p.m. ET
|Pinnacle Bank Arena – Lincoln, Neb.
|Find the Lowest Ticket Prices on SeatGeek
|IU Radio Network
Getting to Know the Cornhuskers
Nebraska is sitting at 7-10 on the season and 2-4 in league play. Head coach Fred Hoiberg’s team has dropped three of their last four contests and are coming off back-to-back losses against Northwestern and Ohio State. Nebraska has won just three games since their last contest against the Hoosiers back in December.
The Cornhuskers offensive production has dropped slightly since last month’s contest. They are scoring 72.5 points and shooting 41.8% from the field per game. Haanif Cheatham leads his team with 12.9 points per game and a 50% field goal percentage. The senior guard recorded 21 points, six rebounds, and three assists in the previous matchup against the Hoosiers.
Junior guard Dachon Burke Jr. gave Indiana’s defense problems last time out. The Orange, NJ. native tallied 25 points which was a tie for game high alongside Hoosier forward Trayce Jackson-Davis’ 25 points. Burke Jr. went 50% from behind the arc and hit two late three-pointers to send the game to overtime. Nebraska’s third leading scorer is averaging just 9.4 points over his last seven games.
Cam Mack shot 5-of-14 against Indiana and recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 assists. The sophomore is averaging 12.5 points and 6.7 assists per game. However, Mack turns the ball over an average of 2.6 times per contest and recorded four in the last meeting with Indiana.
Nebraska’s opponents are scoring 74.4 points and shooting 42.8% per game. The Cornhusker’s three-point defense ranks 42nd in the country, holding teams to 29.2% behind the arc. The Hoosiers are 277th in the nation shooting the three at 31.1% and have gone 20-of-84 from deep in their last five games. Nebraska forced Indiana to shoot 20 percent from the three-point line in the last meeting.
Three Nebraska players average at lease one steal on a unit that averages 6.4 per game. Burke Jr leads the squad with 1.4 per game and Mack is second at 1.3. The Cornhuskers forced Indiana into 14 turnovers back in Bloomington.
Projected Starting Lineups
|G: #1 Al Durham
|G: #11 Dachon Burke Jr.
|G: #10 Rob Phinisee
|G: #22 Haanif Cheatham
|F: #3 Justin Smith
|G: #3 Cameron Mack
|F: #4 Trayce Jackson-Davis
|G: #34 Thorir Thorbjarnarson
|C: #50 Joey Brunk
|F: #24 Yvan Ouedraogo
What to Watch For
1. Can Indiana’s offense find rhythm?
The Hoosiers’ offensive problems turned up once again this season in the contest against the Scarlett Knights. Indiana had difficulty getting the ball inside to their post players due to Rutgers packing the paint. That led to many outside shots being taken and Miller’s players could not find the net from behind the arc. Indiana recorded 52 points in the paint in their last meeting against Nebraska with Jackson-Davis getting the best of his defenders inside. If the Hoosiers can get post touches, the offense can then make Nebraska’s defense react off cuts and passes out of the post leading to less forced shots from the outside.
2. The Hoosiers edge in rebounding.
Indiana recorded 54 total rebounds in the previous meeting compared to Nebraska’s 31. Jackson-Davis and Justin Smith each picked up a double-double with 15 and 10 boards respectively. The rebounding margin led to the Hoosiers having an edge in second chance points 26-10. Indiana ranks 45th in the nation in rebounds per game and have continuously imposed their will on the inside. This rebounding battle may play a key role especially if Nebraska cannot keep the Hoosiers away from the offensive boards leading to extra opportunities.
3. Guard Play
In the matchup at Assembly Hall, both teams’ guards combined for 113 out of the 186 total points. Cheatham, Mack, and Burke Jr. continue to lead the Nebraska front in scoring with a combined average of 37.1 points per game. Devonte Green and Al Durham are each in double figures while Rob Phinisee has started back-to-back games after seeing limited action throughout the first part of the season due to injury. If both team’s key guards can get going early and often alongside the post play, look for this to be another shootout like before.
4. Surviving on the Road
Indiana is 0-2 in true road games this season with the losses to Wisconsin and Rutgers. Big Ten teams have struggled in road environments with the visiting team going a combined 6-33 this season. The Hoosiers showed they can win away from Bloomington with the neutral site victories against Notre Dame and UConn. However, if they cannot get true road wins it may backfire when March comes around and a tournament appearance is on the line.
Featured Photo: Anna Tiplick / IndianaHQ