What to Expect: Nebraska

  • 01/17/2012 1:55 pm in

The No. 11 Hoosiers, coming off consecutive losses to Minnesota and Ohio State, travel to Lincoln on Wednesday for a meeting with the Nebraska Cornhuskers. It will be the first meeting between the two schools since December 30, 1982 in Indianapolis. 

The game will be shown on the Big Ten Network (Eric Collins and Eddie Johnson) and broadcast on the IU radio network:

Nearly every team in college basketball faces adversity at some point in the season. Up until last week, Indiana had essentially aced the first 16 games, save for a disappointing performance down the stretch in East Lansing. That’s not to say this group hadn’t struggled in stretches in those first 16 — they did — but ultimately they were able to overcome those struggles and win close games.

The past two games, however, were a different story. Which brings us to a question that will soon be answered: How will this team respond to its first losing streak of the season? In previous seasons, the Hoosiers have let losing streaks snowball in conference play.

This group, however, has proven itself capable of beating the nation’s best. If Indiana hopes to finish in the top four of the league, tomorrow’s matchup is a game it needs to win. But more importantly, this group must stop the negative momentum that comes with a losing streak and come out as the aggressor on the road against an opponent in the bottom tier of the conference.

A STATISTICAL LOOK AT NEBRASKA

Nebraska’s welcome to the Big Ten has not been a friendly hello. Save for a 70-58 home win a week ago against Penn State, Doc Sadler’s club has dropped five league games by an average of 15.6 points. Offensively, Nebraska is struggling. They’re scoring a league worst .84 points per possession in conference play. And they’re not much better in some other key areas: 22.6 TO% (10th), 26.9 3P% (12th) and a free throw rate of 28.5% (12th). If Indiana plans to reverse the course of its struggling defense through six Big Ten games, the Hoosiers couldn’t ask for a better opponent on paper than Nebraska.

On the other side of the ball, the Cornhuskers have actually played well defensively over their last three. They’ve held Illinois, Penn State and Wisconsin all under 60 points with two of those efforts coming on the road. None of those teams pack the offensive firepower of Indiana, but it’s worth noting that Big Ten opponents are shooting just 22.9 percent from behind the 3-point line against the Huskers. Nebraska has also done a nice job of forcing turnovers (21.5 opponent TO% in league play). The one area Indiana should look to exploit is pounding the offensive glass. Nebraska is the second worst defensive rebounding team in Big Ten play as their opponents are rebounding 36.3 percent of their misses.

MEET THE HUSKERS

Despite their 1-5 conference record, Nebraska received a boost when juniors Dylan Talley (thigh) and Jorge Brian Diaz (foot) returned eleven days ago for their game in Champaign. The 7-foot Diaz, who spots the top block percentage in the Big Ten, is one of four Nebraska players averaging over nine points per game. While not as physical as some of the other post players Indiana has faced to-date, Diaz does have the ability to alter, block and change shots around the basket. Talley, who is fourth on the team in scoring in a reserve role, uses the second most offensive possessions on the team. Talley has taken slightly more 3-point attempts than he has 2s.

The focal point of the offense, however, is senior guard Bo Spencer (pictured). While he hasn’t been efficient (45.5 eFG%), he’s using the most offensive possessions of any player in the league besides Penn State’s Tim Frazier. Spencer, who played his first three seasons at LSU, has hoisted up 96 shots from behind the 3-point line (only hitting 31 percent) and has been very good from the foul line (59-of-68).

Toney McCray, a 6-foot-6 senior, has been Nebraska’s best perimeter shooter. McCray is hitting 40 percent of his 3s. And Brandon Ubel, a 6-foot-10 junior, provides little offensively, but is the Big Ten’s fourth best offensive rebounder. The majority of Nebraska’s regular rotation consists of juniors and seniors.

QUICK FACTS ON NEBRASKA

All-time series: Indiana leads 8-1
Location: Lincoln, Nebraska
Student Enrollment: 24,593
Established: 1869

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  • Luke72

    Will bet the deflections in the last 2 games are no where near the Hoosiers previous games. Being out shot, out rebounded or out anythinged I can live with but for the most part IU has been out husseled in both of these loses is upsetting.   

  • Anonymous

    This is a deceptively important game IMO.  It would be easy to take a mindset of “It’s only Nebraska…” But the Huskers have played some good teams pretty tough this year.

    How the team responds to the past week will be very telling.  I am hopeful (and cautiously optimistic) they will come to play.

  • Anonymous

    This is a deceptively important game IMO.  It would be easy to take a mindset of “It’s only Nebraska…” But the Huskers have played some good teams pretty tough this year.

    How the team responds to the past week will be very telling.  I am hopeful (and cautiously optimistic) they will come to play.

  • Anonymous

    I hope to see a different defensive Hoosier team, but I have a feeling we will see more of the same in an IU team that is giving up 78 ppg in conference play.

    It is becoming more evident that our early seaon defense was more due to having a team far more talented than the opponent rather than a new defensive philosophy.

    Also, if VJ logs 20+ minutes in this game, it would be almost a guarantee that the man he guards will outscore him and abuse him on drives to the paint opening up easy shots and fouls on our other players.

    In the last 4 Big 10 games VJ is torching the nets at 32% on FG, 56% on FT, 25% on 3PFG, pulling down a mean 2.8 rpg, scoring 5ppg, averaging a nice 3.8 Asissts PG followed by a Freshman-like 3.3 TO PG.  all of this done in 25.5 min/g.  VJ put on a clinic of how to slowly get out on the open shooter at OSU as well as how to be 6’5″ and not box out a 6’6″ defender.  I think he has perfected the matadorian box out…..Ole’!

    We know Hulls’s defensive short comings, but at least he scores and will fly and dive all over the court.

    This game hinges on VO stepping up and getting back to form.

    It also hinges on CTC waking up and taking VJ out and insert a FR in Remy who is eager to play and will at least play D face up and not a step behind on the oponnent’s hip.

    This is a time for CTC and the players to right the ship.  They have all been very sloppy for the last 3 games except for CZ and Matt Roth.  They appear to be playing consistently right now.

    Sheehey isn’t too far behind having sat out 5 games.

    And, Sunday’s game at OSU would have been a perfect time to get beat by 30, empty your bench and prove to your starters that 18 straight starts with the same line up might be changing soon if you don’t get it in gear.

    Sure, we stuck with OSU and played them tough in the second half, but what does that really mean?  OSU had it on cruise control.  VO was bad and so was VJ.  Remy should have played 20 minutes and Etherington should have seen some time too.  Elston could have used 15 minutes too because CTC, you will need these guys at some point whe the next guy gets hurt or when a starter continues to disappear defensively.  These guys are also in the plans for next season too.  VJ will be gone as well as TP.  Roth at least has been earning his minutes.

    Let’s see if CTC and the team can regroup, let’s see what this team is made of and if effort on the defensive end will be rewarded.

  • iujunebug

    Let’s go Hoosiers, and get this train back on track!

  • LoneStarHoosier

    Bo Spencer sounds a lot like Bracey Wright.

  • InTheMtns

    I’d like to see CTC change the starting lineup if for no other reason than to just shake things up a little. Show Nebraska a different look than what they’ve studied on film and show the IU players that things need to be different. We really need to win this game. As Alex says, “the Hoosiers couldn’t ask for a better opponent on paper than Nebraska,” but they’ve been playing better of late. I watched part of the UN/Wisc game @ Wis and thought Nebraska looked good.

  • I think having the media pounding, “You are a top notch shooting team”, into our kids heads is causing us to believe we can just shoot our way out of things.  We need to get back to moving the ball, and playing defense first basketball.  And like Luke said, Indiana Basketball = High Energy/Hustle basketball, and I just haven’t seen it the past two games.  (out of the majority of our players)

  • Recker777

    this is the biggest game of the year coming off of two loses. A loss here would really be demoralizing. We need to come to play from the first whistle of the game.

  • CreamandCrimson

    A huge game, no doubt about it.  This game begins a span of four that we have to go at least 3-1 in.  A good performance and a win followed up by the same at home against Penn State will restore some confidence to this group. 

    -Victor needs to show up defensively and make things difficult for Bo Spencer.  Remember Frazier getting into the lane at will?  That can’t happen again.
    -Whoever is guarding McCray needs to prevent him from getting into a rhythm.  He shoots the three well but he is a one-trick pony.  Make sure he doesn’t get going.
    -Ubel is really their only good offensive rebounder.  This has been a problem area for us and it would be nice to see him and the rest of the Cornhuskers contained.
    -Get the ball down low and go at Ruiz.  He is soft and doesn’t move very well.  We should be able to get them in foul trouble and get ourselves to the foul line, a place we excel at, often.
    -Be aggressive, be assertive, remember the intensity that got you to 15-1 and we should play well enough. 

    We are not an elite team but we can still be a very good basketball team. The margin for error isn’t particularly high in this jumbled Big Ten but winning winnable games on the road will go a long way to finishing where we want to in this conference.  I really think these guys are going to show how much they have matured as a team.  I think it will be close, I don’t think we will shoot all that way and it probably won’t be pretty.  However, I feel like we are going to find a way to get a win on the road and, for now, that will be good enough.

  • Anonymous

    Hopefully this game is just what the doctor ordered…  if we are a top 20 team, we beat Nebraska easily with the game never in doubt.  Come on Hoosiers, step up!

  • Cmayn98071

    We beat Kentucky and Ohio State the first time by fast break and running. This 5 to 7 pass offense is killing us.

  • Anonymous

    I want it to be tomorrow night at 7 so bad.  Need to get the losing taste out of our mouths and come out ready to dominate from the opening tip.  We need to see some defensive intensity and we need to starting attacking the glass on both ends. Let’s get out and run, get some easy buckets and put Nebraska away early to build some confidence. 

  • sully10

    We really need to stop turning the ball over so often! it is killing us.

  • Anonymous

    U can’t run if you are not getting rebounds or turning people over.

  • Anonymous

    IU should handle these guys..but not the IU that showed up against MN and OSU. Expect a dogfight.

  • Andrew

    Nothing deceptive at all about the importance of this game.  Given the way things have snowballed the last 3 seasons, it’s hard to imagine a more important game to have in mid-January.  If anyone on our team is dumb enough to think “It’s only Nebraska”, then that is truly sad.  It better not be easy to take that mindset, as you say.  Crean sounded different than at any other time this season on his radio show last nite, pissed off and edgy, like he wanted his team to take the court immediately and get after someone.  I hope this means the players will be ready to go from the very start tomorrow.  We should play angry.  We have to throw the first punch.

  • Andrew

    Nothing deceptive at all about the importance of this game.  Given the way things have snowballed the last 3 seasons, it’s hard to imagine a more important game to have in mid-January.  If anyone on our team is dumb enough to think “It’s only Nebraska”, then that is truly sad.  It better not be easy to take that mindset, as you say.  Crean sounded different than at any other time this season on his radio show last nite, pissed off and edgy, like he wanted his team to take the court immediately and get after someone.  I hope this means the players will be ready to go from the very start tomorrow.  We should play angry.  We have to throw the first punch.

  • JoeG

    First off it is Diaz. He does move very well but has some foot problems. He has excellent footwork in the post, but does play soft more often than not. Cody should be able to push him around easily.
    McCray is not a one trick pony. He is very long and agile. He can rebound pretty well and can slash to the hoop when he feels like it. Problem with him is he is a head case he could either go for 20 or have 6 TO’s and do nothing. I think Sheehey would be a good matchup for him.
    Spencer is a pretty dam good player, but is hamstrung in the NU system. He seems uncomfortable running clock and trying to create at the end of shot clock. Victor will really present him problems and if he denies him the ball the NU offense really sputters.
    Ubel is an ok role player and plays hard all the time. He can be foul prone and no way can check CW on defense. If Watford comes to play this is a total mismatch.
    Draymond ate his lunch.
    Richardson is a quick and pesky guard who plays very hard on defense. Doesnt look for his offense to much but once in awhile he will surprise. I think they will try to match him up on Jordy. If Hulls can get going early this will kill there defensive will
    I think this is also a perfect spot for Roth. NU plays a lot of scraping down on the bigs and trying to recover back to shooter. They switch a lot.  If they are not on the there game it will leave a lot of 3 pt shots available. I think this has been one of there soft spots all year.
    Doc Sadler is an excellent XandO man and he will try to slow this game up and not let IU get in transition. If IU can create TO’s and get back on track with the deflection thing  they will win easily. Offensively IU with good ball movement and the bigs passing out of the post effectively will be a lot for the Huskers to handle. They just dont have the depth or scoring to stay with IU.
    If IU gets to 65 points no way NU can win IMO.
    Hope this helps

  • Anonymous

    I’ll be at this game- I’ll try to make all ITHers proud and, hopefully bring home a B1G road win.

  • Anonymous

    Past four games. From the second half of the Michigan game, we’ve been atrocious. It seems like we just forgot what got those signature wins. We’ve been playing like we’re good enough to just show up and just beat an inferior opponent. Aside from CZ, we rarely have significant talent mismatches at any positions. We need to play like we were picked to finish in the bottom of the big ten and maybe get an invite to the N.I.T. WHICH WE WERE!!!! get that chip back on your shoulders fellas!!

  • Petefaggen

    Andrew, I agree with you. This is not only important but it will also be the hardest. If anybody (fans/players) thinks beating Nebraska will be easy, especially after witnessing the Minnesota loss last Thursday and then the Ohio State whipping on Sunday, the Hoosiers can’t take anything for granted now. Do they have the talent to blow out Nebraska? Yes, they do. Could it happen? Yes. But no evidence exists to prove that it will unless IU gets after it defensively, forces turnovers instead of committing their own, and like you said Andrew, throws the first punch. The last two games, IU has played passive and the results spoke for themselves.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Diaz…you are correct.  My mistake.  I have only Nebraska three times so I will take your word for it but I haven’t seen McCray do much besides stand at the three point line and wait for the ball.  Thanks for the insight though, good stuff.

  • Anonymous

    This has nothing to do with Nebraska, but went and watched Jaquan Lyle last night. He went for 37 points. His team got the L after beating the same team (Harrison) on Saturday night. Kid definitely has the full package. Watched him last year against Washington. Big difference from last year in his game and attitude. Did get upset at the end of this game. His team was down by 3 with 10 seconds to go and his coach (Burkhart) lost it on a bad call. Coach got t’d up twice. Buzz Williams and a Louisville assistant were their.

  • MillaRed

    Top teams avoid losing streaks.

    Tonight we are going to find out if we are indeed a top team in the conference.

  • millzy32

    As long as it involves taking out VJIII and having him come off the bench I’m all for it.  This is a MUST WIN game.  Things could spiral out of control pretty fast if the Hoosiers drop this one and the next which are supposed to be W’s.

    Come on Hoosiers get this thing back on track

  • JoeG

    Thanks. I am an IU grad from Omaha. Have been a husker season ticket holder since 88. Been waiting for this day for a long time. Hope IU can play at the level they were earlier in the year. McCray looks like he is sitting out there I think due to the offense the Huskers run. They run a high weave and try to run a lot of clock before taking a shot. This leads to a lot of outside shots. They will play defense and play hard for the full 40 though.

  • Anonymous

    Also had 9 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 blocks.

  • Anonymous

    Most of your points I agree with but ”
    It is becoming more evident that our early seaon defense was more due to having a team far more talented than the opponent rather than a new defensive philosophy.”  Hello? Kentucky? OSU? There were solid defensive efforts in both of those games which I would argue have better talent.

  • Anonymous

    Nothing wrong with a flurry of passes to get our offense started. Opens up lanes for penetration or a dump down to Z. But they need to be quick, clean and meaningful.  None of the stand, dribble and pass back and forth to a teammate at the top of the key.

  • Anonymous

    I still don’t understand how anyone thinks we played better in the second half Sunday. Sure, we made shots, but we allowed 45 points. We allowed 35 in the first.

  • corey

    i have not seen it the last 4 games, letting lot of point’s being scored in the paint, when you have a 7footer under the hoop and ur getting easy finger roll lay up’s thats not showing me any hustle or D or anything other than u wanna learn how to do a finger roll lay up. i say it every week Zeller ur a beast play like a BEAST

  • Anonymous

    Agreed. Haven’t played a good game since New Year’s.

  • Anonymous

    True, but we also haven’t been pushing the ball up the court on made baskets like we had been earlier this season.

  • CreamandCrimson

    They do play hard.  I respect Doc Sadler quite a bit and I will be really interested to see how well he can recruit with the new arena and practice facility.  The pace they play at helps improve their defensive numbers but they are a good defensive team, particularly when defending the 3.  That will make for an interesting side story throughout the game.

  • brosallman

    Cody Zeller

  • JoeG

    Doc can coach. Has not proven to be a good recruiter in his tenure. Although he is somewhat hamstrung since Osborne will not him recruit players with strong AAU ties. He has tried the JUCO and foreign player route with little success. Until the admin loosens up I doubt they will recruit well enough to be an upper tier team.

  • JoeG

    Doc can coach. Has not proven to be a good recruiter in his tenure. Although he is somewhat hamstrung since Osborne will not him recruit players with strong AAU ties. He has tried the JUCO and foreign player route with little success. Until the admin loosens up I doubt they will recruit well enough to be an upper tier team.

  • InTheMtns

    JoeG, thanks for the “insider” info. Can you tell me why Nebraska goes by NU instead of UN? It’s the University of Nebraska isn’t it? Just curious about the NU nickname. Thanks.

  • InTheMtns

    I’d like to see VJ3 come off the bench with a specific agenda and limited minutes. I’d also think it might do Vic some good to come off the bench for a change.