BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Six days after being run off the floor in Omaha, Nebraska responded with 45 gritty minutes at Assembly Hall in a 96-90 overtime loss to 10-1 Indiana on Friday night.
Dachon Burke scored a team-high 25 points and made two 3-pointers in the final 30 seconds of regulation to force overtime. Cam Mack played every second, scoring 15 with 10 assists. Thorir Thorbjarnarson added a career- high 17 points, his third career high in three games.
“I’m so proud of those guys in there for coming out and fighting the way we did,” Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg said on the radio postgame interview. “Those guys went out there and played their hearts out and left everything on the floor. And if we play like that, we’re gonna have a chance to win a lot of games.”
Nebraska (4-6) played without starter Jervay Green, who was suspended indefinitely three hours before the game.
As in the Creighton game, Nebraska fell into a hole early, trailing 11-2 in the opening minutes and forcing Hoiberg to call a quick timeout. But unlike the Creighton game, NU responded, with a 10-0 run to take a 14-13 lead, forcing Archie Miller to take a timeout.
Nebraska spread Indiana’s defense way out and cut through the lane for layups, making 44% of its shots and 12 3-pointers. Haanif Cheatham scored 21 points and brutalized Indiana on the baseline.
Defensively, the Huskers packed it in, daring Indiana to make jumpers. The Hoosiers went 5 for 25 from 3-point range, missing 9 of 10 shots at one point.
“We really just tried to get as many bodies as we could in (the paint),” Hoiberg said.
It worked, for the most part, and after a 3-pointer from Thorbjarnarson, the Huskers led 34-31 late in the first half. In the final eight minutes, the Hoosiers — with a clear size advantage — started posting up the bigs and feeding the block.
Freshman Trayce Jackson-Davis scored 25 points on 12 shots, most of which came in the lane.
A late Mack 3-pointer made it 40-39 Indiana at halftime.
The teams traded blows for the next 25 minutes, to the unexpected delight of the Nebraska faithful.
Out of a timeout, Thorbjarnarson drilled his second 3-pointer of the night, and Burke stole a cross-court pass and dunked to close it to 73-70 with 2:30 left.
Out of another timeout, Mack drove, initiated contact but missed the shot. Rob Phinisee sprinted down the floor for a bucket to put IU up 78-72. Two Cheatham free throws got the points back, and Indiana threw the ensuing inbounds pass to the student section.
With his team down four, Burke nailed a 3-pointer — with a foul — with 36 seconds left to cut the lead to one. He missed the free throw, but Mack scored with 13 seconds left to make it 80-79 and Hoiberg called a quick timeout to set up a 3-point play.
After two Indiana free throws, Burke hit a 3-pointer on the right wing with one second left to force overtime.
“It was perfect the way we got Burke that 3 to tie it,” Hoiberg said. “The patience that (Mack) showed, just overall everything we did in a hostile environment.”
The Huskers made seven of their final eight shots of regulation.
In overtime, they ran out of gas. Jackson-Davis was an issue, scoring on back-to-back hook shots to put the Hoosiers up by six.
The Huskers missed their final three shots, and Assembly Hall sighed a breath of relief.
Two months ago, the Huskers dropped back to back games to UC Riverside and Southern Utah. They looked overwhelmed at Creighton last Saturday.
A lengthy film session and a few tough practices might’ve changed the outlook for conference play.
“It’s devastating, especially the way we lost, but you know, we showed a fight tonight against a big, physical team that has been playing great basketball,” Hoiberg said. “We came into a hostile environment on the road and handled it so much better than we did our first opportunity at Creighton, so that should be a confidence builder for us.”
Nebraska next plays Purdue in Lincoln at 3 p.m. Sunday.
The Huskers might be a bit tired. But they might be standing a bit taller, too.
Meet the 2019-20 Nebraska men's basketball team
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