Huskers end Hoosiers’ winning streak with late run
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska had the finishing kick against Indiana that it lacked at Illinois, and it got the Huskers running in the right direction again Tuesday night.
Nebraska outscored Indiana 13-6 over the final 5:32 for a 66-57 victory, overcoming some missed free throws by forcing the last of the Hoosiers’ 19 turnovers to reach 12 conference wins for only the third time in school history.
James Palmer scored 15 points as the Huskers won for the seventh time in eight games.
“The important part was to finish the game with a great defensive stretch and control the ball on offense, and put them away,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. “The first half, the way we played, I wasn’t sure it was going to end like that.”
Nebraska (21-9, 12-5 Big Ten) bounced back from a 72-66 loss Sunday at Illinois. Senior co-captain Evan Taylor said much of the focus over the following 48 hours was on defense.
“I think we got stops,” Taylor said. “In the Illinois game, we allowed them to get second shots. Tonight we got stops.”
Indiana (16-13, 9-8) had a four-game winning streak snapped, with Nebraska picking up 26 points off the Hoosiers’ highest turnover total since 19 in a season-opening loss to Indiana State.
“Lack of toughness, lack of confidence . I don’t know what it was,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said. “Maybe the road environment scared them a little bit, I’m not sure. But just some of the plays didn’t make a whole lot of sense.”
Indiana started a 10-2 run in the second half with back-to-back 3-point plays by Justin Smith and Juwan Morgan, taking a 41-37 lead with 13:50 remaining. Nebraska answered with 10 straight, including a 3-point play and two free throws by Taylor, and led the rest of the way.
The Huskers all but finished off the Hoosiers when Palmer had two free throws and a dunk during an 8-0 run that made it 64-53 with 1:51 remaining.
“The whole game, I didn’t think we were playing that well,” NU point guard Glynn Watson Jr. said. “But we made that big stretch and got on that run, and put them away.”
Smith and Robert Johnson paced Indiana with 16 points apiece. Smith had the Hoosiers’ first eight points of the second half — more than his season average of 5.9 per game — but four turnovers on six possessions coming out of the break added to the Indiana struggles.
“I thought we were right there for a good portion of the game,” Miller said. “But you can’t do that on the road — 19 second shots, 19 turnovers — it’s just not going to get it done.”
Indiana somehow emerged with a halftime lead despite a shaky first 20 minutes, going ahead 26-25 after Devonte Green and Johnson scored on hard drives in the final 90 seconds. Nebraska had a chance to regain the lead it had held for much of the first half but Isaiah Roby missed a 3-point shot as time ran out.
Nebraska had taken a 25-22 lead on a 3-point basket by Thomas Allen with 1:52 remaining, but the Huskers made just 3 of 15 from behind the arc in the first half and did not attempt a free throw.
The Huskers’ only other seasons with 12 league wins came in 1965-66 (Big Eight) and 1915-16 (Missouri Valley). Miles was glad to see Nebraska reach a dozen after seeming to be a little tight from the start.
“Tonight was one of those nights where I think they earned the victory,” he said. “And hopefully that can really help them build that belief that we can beat anybody.”
Indiana: The Hoosiers had built some late-season momentum by beating four consecutive Big Ten lower-division teams. They will try to rebound with a Friday night home game against Ohio State that concludes their regular-season schedule.
Nebraska: The NCAA tourney hopes remain fragile, but Nebraska picked itself up nicely after its costly setback at Illinois. The play of Palmer, a junior, continues to be an important part of one of the Huskers’ best seasons in years.
NOTHING IS FREE
Indiana and Nebraska played more than 17 minutes before either team made it to the free-throw line. The two shots by the Hoosiers’ Juwan Morgan (one make, one miss) with 2:59 left were then the only two attempted prior to halftime. Nebraska didn’t get to the line until the 16:58 mark of the second half. Overall, the teams eventually combined to shoot 26.
Indiana hurt itself Tuesday night by not taking care of the ball. The Hoosiers had nine turnovers in the first half, then four more over their first six possessions of the second (by then already surpassing their season average of 12.3 per game). Indiana finished with 19, its highest total since 19 in a season-opening loss to Indiana State.
Indiana hosts Ohio State on Friday.
Nebraska hosts Penn State on Sunday.