Five takeaways from Indiana’s loss to Nebraska

  • 03/16/2024 9:32 am in

Indiana was soundly beaten by Nebraska for a third time this season, 93-66, in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals on Friday night at the Target Center in Minneapolis.

Here are five takeaways from the loss to the Huskers:

3-point shooting was, once again, the difference

The 3-point shot hasn’t been a priority for Indiana since Tom Crean was fired in the spring of 2017.

It’s no secret the Hoosiers haven’t recruited enough shooters or made the 3-point shot a focal point of the offense. So it should be no surprise that it’s an uphill battle when Indiana faces a team that takes and makes 3s with no conscience.

That was the case Friday night against Nebraska – for the third time this season.

After being outscored by 39 points from distance against the Huskers in the first two meetings this season, the gap was 27 points on Friday night.

For those scoring at home, Indiana was outscored by an average of 22 points on 3s in three games against Nebraska. The average margin of defeat in those three games? 19.3 points.

The 3-point shot wasn’t the only reason Nebraska crushed Indiana three times this season, but it was a significant one. If the Hoosiers continue prioritizing the “inside-out” offense moving forward, Mike Woodson needs to find some options to make perimeter shots when the ball comes out of the post.

Nebraska shuts down Kel’el Ware

Nebraska’s defensive focus from the opening tip was clear: don’t let Kel’el Ware get comfortable.

Ware was blanketed from the opening tip in one of his worst games of an otherwise stellar season.

Nebraska’s pressure on every touch by Ware was intense. He was swarmed immediately. And when Ware got a shot off, it wasn’t easy.

His final line tells the story of a player who never found his footing. Ware, typically an efficient scorer, was just 3-for-10 from the field and had three turnovers.

“They exposed us the first couple games at times,” Fred Hoiberg said postgame. “They just threw it right over the top of us. When we did go in the double-team, I thought our physicality and our hands were really good. It wasn’t a direct line pass. It was a looping pass that we got our hands on.”

Malik Reneau’s foul issues continue to limit his effectiveness

There’s no doubt Malik Reneau took a step forward in his second season at Indiana.

Reneau earned All-Big Ten honorable mention accolades and averaged 15.4 points, six rebounds and 2.7 assists in 28.7 minutes per game.

But Reneau battled foul trouble too often, particularly late in the season. He fouled out of Friday’s game in 22 minutes and finished with nine points, five rebounds and three assists.

In 33 games, Reneau averaged 4.3 fouls per 40 minutes, according to KenPom.

He fouled out seven times and finished nine games with four fouls. That’s far too much foul trouble for a player essential to Indiana’s success.

Kel’el Ware, by contrast, averaged 2.5 fouls per 40 minutes and Trayce Jackson-Davis averaged 1.9 fouls per 40 minutes in his final season in Bloomington. To reach his full potential, Reneau has major work to do defensively.

Indiana had no answer for Keisei Tominaga

Keisei Tominaga is one of the toughest players to guard in the Big Ten because of his movement off the ball and the fact that he needs just a sliver of space to get a shot off.

For the third time this season, Tominaga had his way against Indiana.

In three games against the Hoosiers, Tominaga made 12 3-pointers and averaged 23.6 points.

On Friday, he sometimes toyed with Indiana, hitting stepback 3-pointers and getting to the rim when defenders tried to overplay him on the perimeter.

Tominaga’s final line – 23 points on 9-for-13 shooting with five assists – came in just 27 minutes.

This loss appears to be the end of the road for the Hoosiers

While there is no guarantee Indiana would have been invited to the NIT, it seems the Hoosiers are prepared to turn down the invitation if they are.

According to Jeff Rabjohns and Zach Osterman, Indiana will not play in the postseason event if invited.

Rather than wasting time with a meaningless tournament, the Hoosiers will focus on the transfer portal and building a roster for next season.

In his postgame comments, Woodson acknowledged the work that lies ahead. When asked by a reporter what this team was missing and what he’s looking to add to the program in the offseason, Woodson said a busy offseason lies ahead.

“The bottom line is we’ve got to get better,” he said. “From a talent standpoint, this summer will be spent watching a lot of film on players because we’re going to lose some players, I’m sure, and we’re going to have to build around the core guys that are coming back.

“We’ve just got a lot of work to do this summer to get better. I don’t want to sit here this time next year and not be playing in the tournament.”

Filed to: