No. 16 Indiana opened defense of its Big Ten title with a crippling 87-83 loss to Nebraska on Wednesday night at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
The Hoosiers (10-3, 0-1 Big Ten) committed too many turnovers, missed too many shots and didn’t grab enough rebounds in falling victim to the upset-minded Cornhuskers (7-6, 1-0).
Indiana, which was led by 19 points from Robert Johnson, rallied from 12 points down in the first half to take the lead, then saw the same scenario repeat in the second half, as Nebraska surged from down seven to a six-point advantage, only to see the Hoosiers again regain the lead.
Only this time Indiana couldn’t handle prosperity after going up 73-70 on Johnson’s first basket of the second half with 4:39 remaining.
A Tai Webster layup and Glynn Watson three-point play gave the Cornhuskers the lead for good, and Indiana made far too many mistakes down the stretch to overcome the visitors, who enjoyed their highest scoring game of the season. Watson finished with 26 points and Webster with 21.
IU finished with 19 turnovers, only outrebounded Nebraska 43-37 while giving up 16 offensive rebounds, and shot just 43 percent from the field, including 11-of-25 from 3.
Joining Johnson in double figures were Thomas Bryant with 17 points and 10 rebounds, James Blackmon and OG Anunoby with 12 points apiece and Josh Newkirk with 11.
Blackmon had a chance to tie the game at 78 with 23 seconds left, but missed a left-handed layup, and Nebraska made enough free throws to hold on for the victory.
It was also an injury-riddle affair for Indiana, which saw OG Anunoby re-aggravate his left ankle injury in the first half before returning to the game, and Juwan Morgan was pulled to the ground by Nebraska’s Jordy Tshimanga in the second half, injuring his surgically repaired left shoulder.