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Huskers Looking For Complete Road Test at Indiana

by Feb 20, 2024Nebraska Mens Basketball

Nebraska Cornhusker guard Brice Williams (3) gives a high five to forward Rienk Mast (51) in the second half against the Michigan Wolverines during a college basketball game on Saturday, February 10, 2024, in Lincoln, Nebraska. Photo by John S. Peterson.
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Nebraska men’s basketball will look for the season sweep and its first conference road win Wednesday night when it travels to Indiana. 

A win Wednesday would give the Huskers a season sweep of Indiana for the first time since 2013-14.

Tip-off is set for 7:37 p.m. and the game will be televised on Big Ten Network with Kevin Kugler and Shon Morris on the call. 

Complete 40 Minutes

Nebraska has put together two straight wins, both at home. The Huskers are just 1-7 in true road games and 0-7 in Big Ten road games this season. A theme in Tuesday’s media availability with Fred Hoiberg was playing a consistent or complete 40 minutes on the road. 

“It’s going to take a complete 40 minutes if we are going to flip the narrative of those road struggles and try to go out there and get a big win,” Hoiberg said.  

Just two of the Huskers’ seven conference road losses have come by less than double digits, both in overtime — 87-82 at Rutgers and 87-84 at Illinois. 

“We’ve had three close, good opportunities to win and we’ve got it handed to us a couple times as well,” Hoiberg said. “We’ve got three more chances on the road, starting with this one on the road tomorrow night, and it’s going to take consistent basketball on both ends of the floor.”

The three road games left this season are Indiana Wednesday, at Ohio State on Feb. 29 and the final game of the regular season on March 10 at Michigan.

“We’ve got three really tough challenges ahead of us on the road and it starts tomorrow night,” Hoiberg said. “If you don’t play 40 minutes of consistent basketball in this league on the road, you’re not going to win, it’s as simple as that. You don’t have 15,000 behind you, the 15 guys that are traveling, the coaches, the few fans that will have in attendance, we are all we’ve got. We have to handle it better than what we’ve done the first couple of months.”  

“If you can guard on the road, you are going to give yourself a chance.,” Hoiberg said. :If you can rebound on the road, you are going to give yourself a chance. You have to take care of the ball on the road. Again, it’s a big opportunity for us after two really good performances in our building. I’ll say it again, you’ve got to go out and play consistently for the entire game.” 

Defensive Improvement

Over the last five games, Nebraska has held opponents to an average of 69.4 points per game, which is eight points per game less than the entire month of January. 

Nebraska has held all five opponents this month under 43% shooting, and the Huskers will be challenged by an Indiana team that is third in the Big Ten in field goal percentage. 

Hoiberg has been pleased with his team’s defensive effort recently. 

“I think the multiple efforts are getting better as we’ve gone through the season,” Hoiberg said. “You can guard the initial action but there is going to be a counter, there is going to be an extra pass, there is going to be an extra play. You just have to go from assignment to assignment if you are going to have success on the defensive end, and I’ve seen improvement in that area.” 

The Huskers rank second in the Big Ten in field goal defense, holding opponents to a 39.9 shooting percentage. Nebraska has held its last two opponents to under 35% shooting and its last six opponents to under 43% dating back to Jan. 27th.

Saturday, the Huskers held Penn State to a season-low 49 points, more than 25 points per game below the Nittany Lions’ season average. It marked the lowest point total Nebraska had allowed in Big Ten play since the 2014-15 season. 

“We have our goals that we look at every game,” Hoiberg said. “We have 10 goals that we try to achieve on the defensive end. In the last two games we’ve been 70%. We’ve achieved seven of those 10 after a couple or the road games where I think we achieved one of the 10. Generally, if you can get above 50% of your goal you are going to be in a good position to win. But those have been at home. Now it is about carrying it over and bringing that defense on the road with us. That is what is going to give us a chance to win.” 

Numbers to Know

Nebraska has already exceeded its win total from last season (16) and the 18 wins this season are the most by the Huskers since the 2018-19 season. Under Hoiberg, Nebraska has increased its win total in each of the past three years, the first time that has happened in the program since the mid-1960s (1963-64 to 1965-66).

Nebraska enters Wednesday’s game with an 18-8 record, which matches the Huskers’ best 26-game mark since joining the Big Ten in the 2011-12 season (also 18-8 in 2017-18).  The last time Nebraska had a better record after 26 games was in 1991-92 (19-7). Nebraska was also 18-8 in 2010-11 and 1992-93.

A win Wednesday would match the Husker’s Big Ten win total from last season. The last time Nebraska won at least nine conference games in consecutive seasons was 10 wins apiece in the Big 12 in 1997-98 and 1998-99.

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