BLOOMINGTON – Once Indiana adjusted to Nebraska’s slow-down offensive style, the No. 1 Hoosiers made the Cornhuskers’ first trip to Assembly Hall in 39 years unpleasant.
Indiana defeated Nebraska 76-47 Wednesday night in front of 17,472 fans. It was the first time the Cornhuskers visited Bloomington since a 97-60 loss in 1974.
Indiana turned a tight game into a runaway with a 10-0 run midway through the first half that flipped a 14-11 Nebraska lead into a 21-14 Hoosiers’ lead with 7:01 left in the first.
One thing we’re trying to make sure our team understands is that to win really big, you’ve got to be able to play a lot of different ways, IU coach Tom Crean said. Sometimes you’ve got to wait for your opportunity, and as long as you are playing solid, as long as you are sticking with what you know works, sometimes those opportunities come when you least expect it.
The victory kept Indiana (22-3, 10-2 Big Ten) tied with Michigan State at the top of the conference.
Cody Zeller led the Hoosiers with 16 points, despite being limited to only 18 minutes after picking up his third foul three minutes into the second half. Zeller was limited to three points in the first half after getting called for two fouls in the first 10 1/2 minutes.
Christian Watford had 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Victor Oladipo had 13 points.
Nebraska (12-13, 3-9) was harassed into 15 turnovers, which led to 18 Indiana points. Dylan Talley had 16 points for Nebraska, which went 17 of 47 from the field, working deep into the shot clock on most possessions.
To get to where we want to get, we know we have to be able to play multiple styles of basketball, Watford said. We have to be able to win a slow game.
The Cornhuskers hit their first four shots to take an 8-4 lead in the first four minutes. Nebraska was able to keep Indiana at bay for most of the first half, but the Hoosiers got going when Zeller went to the bench with his second foul and the Cornhuskers leading 14-11 with 9:23 left in the half.
Will Sheehey started a 10-0 run with a layup. Kevin Yogi Ferrell and Oladipo hit back-to-back three-pointers and Jordan Hulls scored on a layup as Indiana led 21-14 with 7:01 left in the first half.
I just come in and bring that energy, said Sheehey, who finished with nine points off the bench. We started off a little slow, but I think the guys coming off the bench bring a little bit of energy.
Talley knocked down the next two baskets to cut Indiana’s lead to 21-18 with 4:22 left in the first half. But the Hoosiers scored the last six points of the half at the free-throw line to take a 27-18 lead.
Indiana started the second half with a putback by Oladipo followed by a three-pointer from Hulls then a dunk by Watford to push the Hoosiers’ lead to 34-18 with 18:30 to play, forcing Nebraska to call a timeout.
The Hoosiers never let their lead dip below double digits in the second half.
Like I said at halftime, when the score is low, we are not trying to set records. We are trying to win a national championship, Crean said. At the end of the day, if you want to win big, you’ve got to be able to play in a lot of different ways. Tonight, our guys did that.