Verdell Jones III led the Hoosiers in assists, but was ultimately unable to spark Indiana to a road win, as Indiana fell 70-69 to Nebraska in Lincoln.
The 11th ranked Indiana Hoosiers traveled to Lincoln to take on the struggling Nebraska Cornhuskers, looking to end a 2-game losing streak at the hands of Minnesota and Ohio State. Nebraska had lost 5 of its first 6 Big Ten conference games and had lost every game against a ranked opponent prior to today. If one thing was going to foil Indiana on the road, it was turnovers: IU had turned the ball over 15 times against Minnesota (to just 6 assists) and 18 times against Ohio State (to 12 assists).
Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, they simply couldn't avoid turning the ball over, and every mistake proved costly in the long run. While IU shot 51% from the floor, led by 7 at the half, and committed fewer personal fouls than the Huskers, they turned the ball over 16 times. Nebraska took advantage; despite shooting just 37% from the floor and converted just 10 of 30 shots from beyond the arc, the Cornhuskers made Indiana's life nightmarish and recorded 8 steals, coming away with a 70-69 upset.
Under Bo Ryan, Wisconsin has made a habit out of hammering the Northwestern Wildcats when they travel to Madison. The Wildcats, however, stayed very tough throughout the first half and Wisconsin led 34-32 at the break. In the 2nd half, however, Wisconsin practically blasted Northwestern out of the building, outscoring Northwestern 18-6 in the first 6 minutes of the 2nd half. Northwestern converted only one field goal opportunity in the first 5 minutes of the half (their other 4 points coming off of free throws), and Wisconsin never relented, retaining a 10-point lead throughout the half and coasting away to a 20-point victory, 77-57.
Cody Zeller recorded 18 points to lead Indiana and Jordan Hulls recorded 12 more. No other Indiana player broke into double-figures scoring, however, but Matt Roth and Christian Watford came close, contributing 9 and 8 points, respectively. Every Indiana player to see the court scored in one way or another, and the Hoosiers shot 8 of 18 from beyond the arc (with Roth hitting 3 of his 5 attempts). Watford recorded 10 rebounds, and Cody Zeller 7. Verdell Jones III led the team in assists (with 5) and had just one turnover, but got into foul trouble (tying Zeller with 3 fouls). Victor Oladipo recorded 4 assists.
As far as turning the ball over for Indiana, no one player was truly to blame. Rather, the Hoosiers managed a complete team performance in this regard, spreading their turnovers such that 7 of Indiana's 9 players had at least one and 4 had two or more turnovers. Watford had the misfortune of leading Indiana in turnovers, and Oladipo had 3 of his own.
Nebraska stayed afloat and ultimately triumphed against the Hoosiers because of 8 steals and 9 offensive rebounds. Bo Spencer led the team with 23 points, but he missed 8 of his 12 three-point attempts and shot 8 of 19 on the day, leading Nebraska in turnovers to boot with 4. On the day, four Nebraska players reached double-figures scoring including Spencer; Toney McCray had 11 points while Jorge Brian Diaz and Dylan Talley recorded 10 points. Talley had 9 rebounds, a team-high, and Brandon Richardson had team-highs in assists (5) and steals (3).
The Wisconsin Badgers survived Northwestern's hot shooting in the 1st half thanks to Mike Bruesewitz's 12 first-half points. While Bruesewitz was a nonfactor in the 2nd half (having just 1), other Badgers stepped up to the task in the 2nd half, and Wisconsin's 18-6 run through the first 5 minutes of the 2nd half was fueled by Jordan Taylor making 3 consecutive shots from outside. Wisconsin shot 50% from the floor and 52% from beyond the arc. The Badgers converted 11 of their 14 free throw opportunities.
In all, four Wisconsin players managed to score 10 points or more; Ryan Evans astonishingly led the team with 17 points and Josh Gasser recorded 10. Taylor led the team in assists (with 6) and Evans led in rebounds (with 9). Both Gasser and Bruesewitz contributed 4 assists. Ben Brust has been quite happy to jack up 3's with reckless abandon, and he did so again today, attempting 6 shots from deep and hitting only 2.
Northwestern had 3 players score in double-figures: the ever dependable John Shurna had 19 points and Drew Crawford had 17, with Reggie Hearn adding 11 of his own. But NU's lack of depth hurt them badly, as the remaining 6 players that Northwestern fielded contributed all of 10 points between them. Northwestern was outrebounded 32-24 and managed just 8 assisted shots, with 10 turnovers. Dave Sobolewski had 6 of Northwestern's 8 assists, but also had 4 of NU's 10 turnovers and led all teams in fouls committed (4).
With the upset loss, Indiana falls to 3-4 in Big Ten play and 1-3 on the road, while Nebraska improves to 2-5 in Big Ten play, and 2-2 at home. With the win, Wisconsin improves to 4-3 in Big Ten play and 2-2 at home, while Northwestern falls to 2-4 and 0-3 on the road in the conference.
Wisconsin: at #22 Illinois, January 22nd, 1:00 pm CST
Indiana: vs. Penn State, January 22nd, 12:00 PM EST
Northwestern: at Minnesota, January 22nd, 3:00 PM CST
Nebraska: vs. #6 Ohio State, January 21st, 8:00 PM CST