Indiana picked up its sixth win in a row over Nebraska on Monday night, and ended an eight-game road losing streak in the process.
The Hoosiers never trailed in a game that followed an unusual pattern where IU never led by more than 10, and Nebraska never cut the margin to less than four in the final 30 minutes.
Let’s take a deeper look at how the Hoosiers won with another edition of The Report Card.
IU (13-4, 4-3) will host Purdue on Thursday at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington.
Indiana really didn’t play well in the second half on the offensive end, and things only got worse late as Nebraska ratcheted up its perimeter pressure. The Hoosiers shot 45.8 percent from the field after the break and committed eight turnovers, seven of which came in the final seven minutes.
The final seven minute stretched aligned with Trayce Jackson-Davis leaving the game with an injury, and IU looked lost without him. Not concerned about the preseason All-American roaming the paint, the Cornhuskers extended their defense and attacked passing lanes, forcing IU’s guards into several miscues.
Prior to that Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson scored seemingly at will, and it is reasonable to conclude things may have played out different on the offensive end with both of them in the game down the stretch. They combined for 35 points on 13-of-22 shooting, with all of their damage coming in the paint.
“I thought our length and our size bothered them a little bit,” IU coach Mike Woodson said. “Trayce and Race kind of had their way around the rim.”
The first half was much more efficient as the Hoosiers made 61.5 percent of their shots including 15-of-19 from 2-point range.
For the most part Indiana appeared to want to slow down the game offensively, confident it could generate points via its half court offense by playing inside out. That was especially the case as Nebraska for the most part didn’t double the post. But IU ran opportunistically and capitalized on Nebraska’s 13 turnovers, scoring 20 points off them.
IU had 1.153 points per possession, its third best output against a high major foe this season, and their 58 percent effective field goal rate their second best. The offense was notably better than the first meeting with Nebraska when the Hoosiers scored .942 points per possession.
A major reason why Indiana was more efficient — it got to the free throw for 28 attempts. That is the third highest total in a game this season, and the most against a high major opponent in regulation. The Hoosiers made a respectable 71.4 percent from the charity stripe.
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— Indiana Basketball (@IndianaMBB) January 18, 2022
Indiana saw a major drop-off in defensive efficiency from the first meeting against Nebraska to Monday night. In Bloomington IU held the Cornhuskers to .762 points per possession, and in Lincoln that figure ballooned to 1.05, the third highest by an opponent this season.
A major reason why Nebraska was effective — their guards got to the rim.
“Their guards put so much pressure on you,” Woodson said. “I thought we did a great job on (Bryce) McGowens at our place but tonight he kind of had his way a little bit. And (Alonzo) Verge was a nuisance in terms of getting the ball downhill and making plays.”
McGowens and Verge combined for 39 points, and only six of them came from 3-point range. Despite Indiana’s size advantage, IU had just a 36-34 edge scoring in the paint, and the Nebraska guard duo’s ability to get downhill was a major reason why.
Indiana has struggled in several games this season to slow dribble drives, but they didn’t often look to the point guard duo of Xavier Johnson and Rob Phinisee to solve the problem despite successfully going that route in previous games. And at times that meant they left Parker Stewart in a mismatch trying to slow McGowens.
The Hoosiers did slow down Nebraska’s 3-point shooting after a torrid 4-of-5 start. From there the Cornhuskers made just 2-of-12 long balls to close out the game.
Despite its shortcomings, IU’s defense was solid late, allowing just one Nebraska field goal during an over four minute span in the final five minutes of the game. At one point IU generated four straight stops as they closed out the game.
OTHER GAME COVERAGE
- Final box score, keys to the game and specialty stats
- Mike Woodson post-game comments
- Bench helps Indiana survive Jackson-Davis injury
- Extended highlights:
Trayce Jackson-Davis (B+) Not much to dislike about Jackson-Davis’ effort beyond five missed free throws and a technical foul. He was dominant scoring the ball on the block, off the dribble and at times with his right hand. Despite a heavy usage rate Jackson-Davis had just one turnover, and he dominated the glass.
Race Thompson (B+) Although he was a bit limited by first half foul trouble, Thompson was able to get to the free throw line where he made 6-of-7. He played 24 minutes without a turnover. Thompson hit a huge challenged shot in the lane with 3:16 left in the game to end a 4-0 Nebraska run.
Miller Kopp (C) With Nebraska loading the floor with penetrating guards and Kopp’s shot not falling, he wasn’t able to significantly impact the game.
Parker Stewart (B-) It was much the same story as we’ve seen repeatedly with Stewart, as he struggled with fouls and didn’t see a heavy shot volume. He did make the shots when he found openings, however.
Xavier Johnson (C) You’ve seen this story before too. Five turnovers, but five assists. Four fouls, but a clutch late three and he made four free throws in the last 28 seconds of the game to seal the win. Johnson seemed to allow the aggressiveness of former Pitt teammate Trey McGowens to bother him.
Jordan Geronimo (A) Indiana likely loses without Geronimo, who was perfect from the field and free throw line while posting eight rebounds in 21 minutes. He was highly active battling his man for rebounding position, and he was an impactful defender both on the ball and help-side.
Rob Phinisee (D) In the 100th game of his college career, Phinisee is now officially back in a shooting slump after a run of good games. Beyond a steal, Phinisee wasn’t a major presence and he’s 0-of-6 from three over the last two games.
Trey Galloway (B-) He allowed a stellar performance to get overshadowed a bit by three turnovers in the last 4:30 of the game. Prior to that, Galloway was exceptional at finding holes in the defense and being disruptive on the other end.
Tamar Bates (B-) There were promising signs that Bates can snap out of his prolonged slump as he hit a baseline jumper, found Jackson-Davis for an alley-oop and played better on-ball defense. But an ill-advised entry pass reminded that there is still work to do for Bates to regain confidence.
Michael Durr appeared in the game briefly.
Anthony Leal and Logan Duncomb did not play.
Khristian Lander was not available due to lower leg soreness.
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