Three Thoughts as Nebraska Notched a Big Road Win at Indiana Last NightPosted by Walker Carey on March 6th, 2014
Walker Carey is an RTC Correspondent. He filed this report after Wednesday night’s game between Nebraska and Indiana in Bloomington.
Prior to Wednesday night’s game at Indiana, Nebraska was widely seen as a bubble NCAA Tournament team. The Cornhuskers were among the “First Four Out” in ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi’s latest update, so Tim Miles’ squad knew it had basically zero margin for error in either of its two games this week (at Indiana on Wednesday and home versus Wisconsin on Sunday). Earning a win at Assembly Hall figured to be a tall task for the Cornhuskers, as Indiana had already scored home victories over Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa and Ohio State this season. Luckily for Nebraska, its chances at an earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament are still alive and well after the Cornhuskers led all the way en route to a very important 10-point road victory. The following are three thoughts from Wednesday night’s action.
- Nebraska Received Valuable Contributions From a Variety of Players. On an evening where Nebraska standout guard Terran Petteway battled foul trouble and only finished 3-of-10 from the field, the Cornhuskers received impact performances from several other players. Forward Walter Pitchford scored the team’s first nine points of the night and finished the game with 17 total points to go with the nine rebounds he collected. Swingman Shavon Shields experienced plenty of success attacking the rim against the Indiana defense and also finished the game with 17 points. Shields was also part of the defensive effort that held Indiana’s marquee players – Yogi Ferrell and Will Sheehey – to combined 9-of-28 shooting from the field. The Cornhuskers also received key performances from reserve guards Benny Parker and Ray Gallegos, who sparked the Cornhuskers on both ends of the court with intense and spirited play. Good teams are able to adjust on the fly and still earn victories when their top player is not at his best, and that is exactly what Nebraska did on Wednesday night.
- Indiana Really Missed Noah Vonleh. Indiana freshman standout Noah Vonleh missed his second consecutive game Wednesday night due to a foot injury and the Hoosiers very much missed his presence. Nebraska’s zone defense stifled the Indiana offense for much of the night and the lack of an inside presence forced the Hoosiers to take many contested outside jumpers. A 36.7 percent overall shooting performance from the field greatly contributed to the team coming up short. While the Hoosiers were able to adjust to Vonleh’s absence in Sunday’s victory over Ohio State, they struggled to find the same answers against Nebraska. Tom Crean’s squad travels to Big Ten champion Michigan on Saturday before the Big Ten Tournament begins next week. Noah Vonleh’s health will go a long way in determining how successful the Hoosiers can be in those remaining games.
- Nebraska’s Home Battle With Wisconsin on Sunday Will Obviously be Very Important. The Cornhuskers are now 18-11 overall and 10-7 in Big Ten play. Their at-large hopes at an NCAA Tournament bid are still very much alive entering Sunday’s clash in Lincoln with Wisconsin. Nebraska has been outstanding at home all season, as its only loss in its own building was a one-point setback to conference champion Michigan in early January. Sunday’s match-up with a stellar Wisconsin team will provide the team with a tremendous opportunity to boost its NCAA Tournament résumé before the conference tournament begins in Indianapolis next week.