Well, it wasn’t the best looking game I’ve ever watched, but Indiana got its first road victory of the season tonight in Nebraska, beating the Huskers 78-71. This game will hopefully be a minor footnote on the tournament resume by the end of the season, but there were plenty of things working against Indiana in this one so it feels like a big win at this point. Plus, it was Mike Woodson’s first win on the road as a college coach.
Here are Three Things:
Nebraska should not be in the Big Ten
I hardly need to say this about a basketball team that threatens to go winless in the conference every season, but the Cornhuskers stooped to another level of Bad tonight with their dirty play throughout. Trey Galloway got elbowed in the face, Xavier Johnson was antagonized twice on the same possession, and Trayce Jackson-Davis got fouled hard near the end of a game that, realistically, Nebraska was not going to win. Since 2018-19, they have not cracked the Kenpom top 100 rankings and have won a total of five games in the conference. It’s time for them to go.
I was tempted to say that they could stay in as a football affiliate, but they haven’t really done anything to earn that invitation either. Even beating them in basketball, Indiana dropped in the Kenpom ranking today. They are good for nothing. Good bye, Huskers.
The Bench Stepped Up
Jordan Geronimo tied his season-high with 21 minutes today, finishing with 10 points and eight rebounds in what was maybe his best game as a Hoosier. Phinisee was, uh, not great, but Galloway had nine points and two assists in 21 minutes and Tamar Bates hit a long two-pointer that clearly sparked some confidence in him. A few plays later he started a fast break with a steal before lobbing to Jackson-Davis for the oop. Despite not playing his best generally, Phinisee did manage to avoid turning the ball over in his sixteen minutes of play, which helped Indiana close it out.
Indiana was without Trayce down the stretch tonight, in part due to the fact that he had four fouls, but also because he went down hard on his wrist when he was undercut going up for a layup late in the game. A pair of free throws from Bryce McGowen cut Indiana’s lead to six points with just under three minutes left in the game and Indiana still managed to close out the game without its best player. It was ugly - Rob dribbled out most of a possession before taking a bad, long three, and Galloway turned it over around the minute mark. But they did not fold.
That was a Good win
The refs were clearly condoning Nebraska’s ‘scrappiness’, Mike Woodson was not wearing a full suit, Trayce looked tired, and two starters had to sit with four fouls at a crucial point. And yet, Indiana still won. Mike Woodson started drawing up a couple of plays for Parker Stewart, who hit two threes on plays designed for him in the second half. Xavier Johnson hit a crucial pair of free throws to put the game out of reach for Nebraska with under a minute to play, though it’s unclear why Hoiberg let the clock run down before fouling. Things are starting to look up for an Indiana team that could not catch any semblance of a break outside of Assembly Hall this season.
The three point shooting needs to improve, and the backcourt still has a ways to go before this team reaches its potential. But it’s good to see them win a game that they have lost so many times before, and the Hoosiers now have some momentum heading into their matchup with Purdue, having won three of the last four games.