Indiana opened up the game completely flat. No energy, lazy play, and Assembly Hall was silent. A late run gave the Hoosiers a halftime lead. After the break, IU was unstoppable and the Hoosiers ran Nebraska out of the gym with a 76-47 final.
Nebraska tried to play the type of game that Butler and Wisconsin ran to pull off the upsets, but the Cornhuskers simply don't have the front court or general talent to do so. Even when they were down double digits, the Huskers were content to hold the ball and run down the clock.
Indiana shot just 31 percent in the first half, uncharacteristically low but it was self inflicted. The Hoosiers were failing to move the ball effectively and settling for bad shots. They were also struggling to lock down Nebraska on defense. The only positive IU had was its ability to get to the free throw line where they attempted 16 shots in the first half alone. Three Cornhuskers were in foul trouble to open the second half of play.
But that was just the first half. IU opened up the second half on a 7-0 run that took under 90 seconds. It set the tone for the rest of the game.
Cody Zeller led IU with 16 points despite playing only 18 minutes due to foul trouble (and frankly he wasn't all that necessary to win this game). He was able to get to the free throw line at will, connecting on 8-of-11 attempts, due to the "Hack-a-Cody" policy that Nebraska had instilled. Rather than let Zeller get easy baskets and crowd appealing dunks, the Huskers front line made Zeller earn his points, but it decimated their ability to defend the paint.
Christian Watford was once again showed how strong a player he can really be. Watford recorded a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. He is quickly becoming the x-factor for Indiana. When he is playing tight defense and is active on the glass, IU is a much better team.
Victor Oladipo was once again outstanding on defense with three steals and a block. His offense was solid as well, finishing with 13 points and eight rebounds (four of which were offensive boards).
Jeremy Hollowell is quickly becoming a key role player for Indiana as well. While his offensive game hasn't quite been there, he is making his presence felt on defense and finished with a block and a steal. He was a 20 point a night scorer in high school, so you have to imagine that at some point his offense will find its way to Assembly Hall.
This was another good win for IU. The Hoosiers overcame a slow start to thoroughly decimated their opponent and were able to get the second string some quality minutes. We also got see how the Hoosiers would fair with Zeller on the bench for an extended amount of time.
While Nebraska might not seem like a quality opponent, they have played a number of Big Ten opponents very close. Against Ohio State they only lost by seven and only lost by 10 at Michigan State.
For now, Indiana is tied with Michigan State atop the Big Ten and will host Purdue on Saturday.
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