Five takeaways from Indiana’s loss to Nebraska

  • 02/22/2024 9:15 am in

Nebraska completed a season sweep of Indiana on Thursday with an 85-70 win against the Hoosiers at Assembly Hall. The loss dropped Indiana to 14-12 overall and 6-9 in Big Ten play.

Here are five takeaways from the loss to the Cornhuskers:

Indiana again came out not ready to compete – and that’s on Mike Woodson

After losing back-to-back home games to Penn State and Northwestern, Indiana entered Wednesday’s contest against Nebraska as a slight betting favorite.

Nebraska hadn’t won a road conference game all season, losing its seven attempts entering Wednesday by an average of 12.4 points.

But that history didn’t matter when the ball tipped just after 8:30 p.m. Nebraska was ready to play and Indiana was not.

Woodson has spent the season trying to explain why Indiana hasn’t performed up to expectations. Injuries are cited. Youth is mentioned. Missed shots, defensive assignments and blockouts are frequently referenced.

Indiana’s issues, however, have yet to be addressed or fixed in any meaningful way this season by Woodson. The season is now 26 games old and the Hoosiers trailed by 20 points at halftime against a team that hadn’t won a road conference game all season.

Yes, Indiana made the game interesting for a stretch in the second half, closing Nebraska’s once 22-point lead to three. But the prosperity was short-lived as a 14-1 run from the Huskers shut the door and sealed Indiana’s fate.

The regular season is nearing the finish line, and Indiana is getting worse. For a coach in year three of his tenure, it’s clear things aren’t moving in the right direction. And that’s on Mike Woodson.

Nebraska buries Indiana from 3-point range

It’s no secret Indiana hasn’t prioritized perimeter shooting under Woodson.

The Hoosiers have been a post-heavy team in all three seasons of his tenure. And Indiana is the lowest volume 3-point shooting team in the conference.

Nebraska came out Wednesday night cutting and moving with a purpose and getting open for 3-point shots, which were falling.

In the first half, Nebraska made nine of its 19 attempts from distance, good for 47.4 percent. It was a big reason the Huskers scored 1.457 points per possession and led 51-31 at the break.

Indiana was just 1-for-11 on 3s in the first half (9.1 percent) and was outscored by 24 points from the perimeter in the first half.

For the game, Nebraska finished 14-for-33 on 3s compared to just 4-for-21 for Indiana, giving the Huskers a 30-point advantage from long distance.

Trey Galloway struggled, but he’s playing out of position

Fourth-year senior Trey Galloway played nearly every minute of Wednesday’s loss and committed six of Indiana’s 10 turnovers.

With Xavier Johnson sidelined and Gabe Cupps not ready to assume the role of primary playmaker, Galloway has been tasked with assuming point guard duties.

“You know, Gallo struggled tonight trying to play the point with his six turnovers,” Woodson said postgame.

But Galloway isn’t a point guard. He’s a wing who can play in transition and thrives when operating in space by attacking the rim.

The issue is less Galloway and more Indiana’s poor roster construction.

The Hoosiers have an open scholarship but didn’t use it to get another ball handler or guard who could provide depth or shooting.

Mackenzie Mgbako put together a solid offensive performance

Freshman Mackenzie Mgbako scored a career-best 22 points in Wednesday’s loss, one of his best performances of the season.

While he wasn’t terribly efficient – Mgbako shot 7-for-17 from the field – he scored in various ways.

The 6-foot-8 forward has improved as a driver as the season has progressed, using his solid frame to bully smaller defenders at the rim at times.

He also continues to shoot the ball well from the free throw line. Mgbako’s 89 free throw attempts are third on the team and he’s shooting 83.1 percent from the stripe.

Mgbako’s 3-point shooting percentage is still hovering in the low 30s – but with his two makes from distance on Wednesday, he’s made 11 more triples than anyone else on the roster.

Indiana falls to No. 102 in KenPom with the loss, the lowest since the 2009-10 season

After beginning the season ranked No. 50 in KenPom, Indiana has now fallen 52 spots to outside of the top 100 after Wednesday’s loss.

The Hoosiers are No. 102 in Pomeroy’s rankings, the lowest ranking for the program since the 2010-11 season.

That season was Tom Crean’s second in Bloomington and Indiana finished 10-21 and No. 194 in KenPom.

Even Crean’s third season, which saw the Hoosiers finish 12-20, ended with IU in the top 100 of KenPom at No. 82.

With five games remaining – and only two at home – Indiana is in danger of finishing below .500. The Hoosiers, once 10-3, are now 14-12.

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