INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — 20 wins? Check. Make it to Selection Sunday with no Quadrant 3 or 4 losses? Check. Record the first Big Ten Tournament win under Archie Miller? Check.
Feel awkward because this is the final college basketball game Indiana will play in front of fans, due to the rapidly evolving outbreak of coronavirus? Also check.
Powered by a 16-1 run to end the first half, Indiana recorded its 20th win of the season, defeating the last-place and No. 14 seed Nebraska Cornhuskers, 89-64, in front of about 14,000 understandably distracted patrons at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Outside of the fans in attendance, Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg left the arena before the game concluded tonight, not feeling well.
On the court, Hoiberg’s team played spirited basketball, even without key guards Cam Mack (personal) and Dachon Burke (suspension). The two averaged over 24 PPG combined for the Huskers. Hoiberg mentioned to BTN before the game that freshman Charlie Easley was hampered by a leg injury as well. As result, Hoiberg reached out to football coach Scott Frost and added two players to his basketball team: QB Noah Vedral and OT Brant Banks. Both football players entered the game with 2:39 to go, when the game was well in hand for IU.
After a see-saw start that featured four ties and four lead changes, the Hoosiers went on a 16-1 run after falling behind 33-27. The group of Armaan Franklin, Devonte Green, Justin Smith, Trayce Jackson-Davis, and De’Ron Davis were on the court for the majority of the run. Franklin, an Indy native, received some extended playing time with Rob Phinisee in foul trouble. He cashed in on the opportunity, having his second double-digit game at BLF in two opportunities. Overall, ten Hoosiers played in the first half, and all ten scored at least two points. Green led the way with seven.
After the break, Indiana stepped on the accelerator. A nine-point lead at the break ballooned into a twenty-point advantage within five minutes. Overall, the Hoosiers went on a 31-5 run that encompassed both halves. The talent differential was clear at various points, with the athleticism of Smith and Jackson-Davis standing out. Jackson-Davis led Indiana with 17 rebounds on the night, a career-high.
Nebraska’s Kevin Cross, a 6-foot-8 freshman forward, gave Indiana problems all night, as he scored a career-high 23. Coming into the game, Cross connected on 33.8% of his field goals and 26.2% of his threes. Against Indiana, Cross shot 7-for-16 and 4-for-9 beyond the arc. His best stretch came in the second half, when Nebraska trimmed Indiana’s lead to 10 points with 8:23 to go.
The Hoosiers had a strong finishing kick, however, pulling away thanks to good shooting, strong rebounding, and taking advantage of some Husker fatigue.
Number of the Night: 12
On Wednesday night, the Hoosiers tallied a season-high 12 blocks. IU matched their high-water mark of the season before halftime. Jackson-Davis led Indiana with four rejections, and seven Hoosiers had at least one.
Source: Indiana Athletics
Next Up: Penn State
There’s barely any time for the Hoosiers to rest and recover, as they face Penn State tomorrow (Thursday) night in the 11 vs. 6 matchup. The Hoosiers and Nittany Lions will begin 25 minutes after the conclusion of the Ohio State vs. Purdue contest that starts at 6:30 PM. Anticipate a start time around 9:00 PM ET.
Once again, due to the coronavirus outbreak, fans are not permitted to attend Big Ten Tournament contests in 2020.
Featured Photo: @IndianaMBB