Indiana digs major hole in first half and falls 85-70 to Nebraska for third-straight home loss

  • 02/22/2024 8:08 am in

The Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall crowd wasn’t afraid to voice its opinions Wednesday night.

When an Indiana player committed a needless foul or turned the ball over: “Why would you do that?”

When Indiana chose to forgo the easy route to the basket, instead passing the ball around and missing the basket altogether: “Shoot the layup!”

An exchange between fans: “Put a shooter on the floor!” “They don’t have one.”

And, in moments throughout the game: “Fire Woodson.”

Every time it seems like things couldn’t get worse for Indiana basketball, they do. Wednesday night was a game the Hoosiers needed to win and should have won. Nebraska hadn’t won a conference road game the entire season and, by all accounts, should have been intimidated by the environment in Bloomington.

Instead, the Huskers came into Assembly Hall and dominated, beating the Hoosiers 85-70. They led by as much as 22 points and never trailed.

“When you give up 51 points in the Big Ten in a half, you’re not going to beat anybody,” Mike Woodson said postgame.

He was right. The Hoosiers’ defense was barely present, much less competitive, in the first half, giving up open drives to the basket and leaving the Huskers wide open on the perimeter. Keisei Tominaga and his teammates capitalized on their opportunities, going 9-for-19 from deep in the first half alone. Tominaga accounted for four of those 3-pointers and scored a game-high 18 points in 14 minutes of play in the first half. The Hoosiers went 1-for-11 from 3-point range and trailed by 20 points at the half for their lack of effort.

They got booed as they left the court.

“We didn’t compete,” Woodson said.

As the second half got underway, the tides seemed to change. Malik Reneau was in a groove; Indiana’s defense had come alive, and Nebraska had to fight to get to the basket. Indiana was finally competing.

The Hoosiers opened the half outscoring the Huskers 25-8 to cut the deficit to three points. Fans were on their feet, Assembly Hall was the loudest it had been all night and the Hoosiers were right back in it. Momentum was coming in waves, but it was coming.

Then, the waves rolled right back out. Nebraska went on an 11-1 run and Indiana never cut the deficit to under 10 points again.

“We’ve played well enough this year in spurts, but not well enough to complete ball games, and that’s what makes it frustrating,” Woodson said. “Cut it to three, then we stopped competing.”

The Hoosiers missed their free throws, their defense faltered and their momentum disappeared. By the game’s final minutes, Assembly Hall was all but silent, with the only noises coming from shoes squeaking and the ball bouncing on hardwood and cheers from the Nebraska bench.

Indiana walked off the floor to boos from its home crowd.

“Nobody’s going to feel sorry for Indiana basketball, they’re just not,” Woodson said. “The locker room is down.”

Trey Galloway said the team couldn’t worry about outside noise, but he said it with his shoulders slumped and his eyes cast downward. The losses and the mistakes don’t come without consequences and Indiana knows it.

“That’s part of it,” Galloway said about the boos. “I’ve got to worry about helping my team, and we’ve got to be focused on each other.”

The Hoosiers have five games left in the regular season. That’s a short amount of time to make progress. To make matters worse, three of those five games are on the road and the Hoosiers only have two road wins.

But given how they’ve played in Bloomington recently, even their home games aren’t guaranteed to be wins — or even to be good.

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