BLOOMINGTON – Indiana had to wait for its opportunity against Nebraska on Wednesday nights.
But once the No. 1 Hoosiers got what they wanted, there was no turning back in a 76-47 win over the Cornhuskers in Assembly Hall.
The victory kept Indiana (22-3, 10-2 Big Ten) tied with Michigan State for the conference lead, and it showed a maturity in the Hoosiers as they had to adjust to Nebraska's slow, deliberate style of offense.
"We kept waiting for the game to go our way in the first half, and nobody got discouraged or got sped up to the point where we started forcing the action," IU coach Tom Crean said. "We probably didn't get it inside as much as we needed to in the first half, especially with where we were in the bonus at the 10:53 mark. I thought we were playing really hard, really solid and just waiting for it to break, and in the second half, we did something about it even that much more.
"I think that's the sign of a team that's maturing and getting better."
Nebraska flustered Indiana at the start of the game as the Cornhuskers made their first four shots while constantly letting the shot clock dip below 10 seconds. The Hoosiers, who 2 of 8 from the field to start the game, trailed 8-4 with 16:02 to play.
Indiana never let Nebraska get too far ahead, and after Cody Zeller went to the bench with his second foul and 9:23 to play in the first half, the Hoosiers got going.
Will Sheehey hit a layup to cut the Cornhuskers' lead to 14-13 with 8:44 left in the half, then Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell and Victor Oladipo knocked down back-to-back layups and Jordan Hulls finished a 10-0 run with a layup to give the Hoosiers a 21-14 lead with 7:01 left in the first half.
Indiana took a 27-18 lead into halftime, and the Hoosiers scored the first seven points of the second half to take a 34-18 with 18:30 to play.
Nebraska was only able to get its deficit down to 38-28 with 14:18 to play, and Indiana outscored the Cornhuskers 20-4 over the next 7 ½ minutes to go up 58-32 with 7:40 to play.
"This is a great thing," Crean said. "We had 27 points at the half, but yet, we end with 76 and win the game by 29. That's really good.
"I don't want to call it a workman-like effort, because they are playing so hard every possession and really took it up a notch to start the (second) half. When the game was right there, momentum is up for grabs at halftime, no matter what the score is, momentum is up for grabs and they grabbed it and didn't let it go."
Short night for Zeller
Indiana forward Cody Zeller only played 18 minutes against Nebraska because of foul trouble.
But that didn't keep him from leading the Hoosiers in scoring.
Zeller finished with 16 points and five rebounds. He had only three points in nine minutes after getting two fouls in the first half.
Zeller also missed nearly 7 minutes in the second half after getting called for his third foul three minutes into the half. The 7-footer responded by scoring 13 points in just more than six minutes of play before leaving the game with IU leading 68-41 with 3:56 left in the game.
"He played excellent in the second half," Crean said. "Cody needs to understand, again I always look at these guys and what I would do if I was going against them, and bottom line is, it's no secret, you are starting the game plan with how are you going to stop him offensively and how are you going to get him out of the game defensively. He can't participate in that."
- Nebraska's 47 points are the lowest IU has held a Big Ten opponent to this season and the second fewest points the Hoosiers have given up this year. IU held Sam Houston State to the lowest point total in a 99-45 win Nov. 15.
- After finishing the first half with a 27-18 lead, Nebraska became the fifth opponent Indiana has held under 20 points in the opening half.
- Indiana scored 18 points off of Nebraska's 15 turnovers, and the Hoosiers only had nine turnovers.
- Indiana's 36-24 rebounding advantage over Nebraska matches the Hoosiers' plus-12 rebound advantage they had against Northwestern as the team's best rebounding edge in Big Ten games this season.
- Indiana senior Christian Watford had 13 points and 11 rebounds for his 17th career double-double and his fifth this season.
- Indiana junior Victor Oladipo scored 13 points. It was his 50th double-digit scoring game.
- Indiana finished 8 for 16 on three-pointers and 24 for 29 at the free-throw line.
- Nebraska went 4 for 16 on three-pointers and 9 for 11 at the free-throw line.
"I think it was their three-point shooting and their ability to score in transition in the second half. They went 6 for 9 from the three. Indiana will hurt you if you let them shoot the ball like that. I thought that we were playing at our pace for a long time. We ended up playing close to 70 possessions. The trouble in the second half came with their three-point shooting and their ability to get to the foul line. They are always on the attack. That's just how they are."
- Tim Miles, Nebraska coach