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January 31, 2014

Husker offense gets rolling in second half

The difference in Nebraska's offense from half to half told the story tonight in Indiana's 60-55 loss in Lincoln. The Hoosier had led by as many as 16 points in the first half, and 32-19 at the break.

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After knocking down just 34.8 percent from the floor in the opening 20 minutes and turning it over 11 times, the Cornhuskers regrouped to put together a big half that helped them quickly overcome Indiana and hold on for the five point victory.

In that final 20 minutes Nebraska missed just 10 of 21 shots and were 6-for-11 from beyond the arc. Better yet the Huskers turned it over just three times.

"We came out with great defensive energy, pretty good ball movement and very good awareness," said Crean. "Bottom line is in the second half our awareness wasn't where it needed to be defensively. There's a certain way that they want to play and in the first half we did a pretty good job of defending that, taking that away. In the second half we allowed them to be too comfortable on the perimeter with the three-point shooting. Took the bait a little bit on when the ball went into the middle."

Nebraska more than doubled its first half output with a 41 point second half.

It took just over four minutes to cut the Hoosier lead to 40-36 after Ray Gallegos made a three-pointer and was fouled by Jeremy Hollowell. That came during an Indiana scoring drought that lasted over six minutes.

"We lost this more on the defensive end than anything we didn't get offensively," said Crean. "I may feel different after I watch the film but when you shoot the way they did in the second half from the three and from the field, versus what they did in the first half, that's a big difference."

The Huskers finally tied the game at 43 on a pair of Tai Webster free throws with 8:55 remaining and finally took the lead for good two minutes later on a pair of freebies by Shavon Shields. Indiana did pull within 58-55 after Yogi Ferrell's only second half basket, a 3-pointer with 48 seconds remaining. Shields hit 1-for-2 free throws after that but Hoosier freshman Stanford Robinson then missed a pair free throws with 30 seconds left and the Hoosiers were off the mark with a couple desperation threes in the final seconds.

"We played nip-and-tuck but we never should have been in that hole based on our defense," said Crean.

"We took pride in defense in the first half but in the second half we had a letdown," said Yogi Ferrell who led the Hoosier with 14 points. "If we don't take pride in our defense the whole game, we won't win games."

Terran Petteway had 11 of his game high 18 points in the second half.

"We really learned to attack more in the second half," said Petteway. "If you look at the first half we weren't attacking the way we should have been. They threw a lot of defense at us and we stopped attacking. The second half we kind of got our composure back and started attacking. That's when we went on our run."

Freshman Stanford Robinson had 10 of his 12 points in the first half and Will Sheehey also added 12 for Indiana. Nebraska did a good job of collapsing on Hoosier forward Noah Vonleh all game, forcing the freshman into five turnovers and holding him to seven points and just three boards, well below his Big Ten leading 9.6 rebound average. As a team Indiana turned it over 19 times.

A pair of banked 3-pointers from Ferrell and Robinson on back-to-back possessions broke open a tight game in the first half and spurred Indiana on a 15-0 run to establish the game's biggest lead at 32-16.

"That really affected us," said Nebraska coach Tim Miles on the Hoosier good fortune with the banked threes. "You just can't let those things that are out of your control affect you. I thought then, we were just kind of getting our butts kicked. They were on the attack. We weren't and you're down 32-19. We were lucky it was that close."

Miles halftime speech also helped his team turn things around on the glass. After being outboarded 20-8, Nebraska grabbed 14 to Indiana's 11 in the second half.

"I challenged them," said Miles. "I told them I thought that they were tentative and that we couldn't be or else we were going to lose. We were getting killed on the boards, we were turning the ball over, we were standing around. We kind of did that to a lesser degree against Penn State. Now, all of a sudden, all of the problems are solved against Minnesota because we shoot 50 percent or whatever. Then we go back to tonight and we stand around like we don't even realize what sport we're playing. But they figured it out."

Indiana will only have two days of practice to figure things out for Sunday's home game against Big Ten leading Michigan. The Wolverines are now 8-0 in league play and ranked No. 10. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. ET and it will be a CBS national telecast.


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