Hoosiers squeak by Nebraska, 96-90, in OT

A late first-half 3-pointer from Nebraska’s Cam Mack splashed through the net, and the faces in the crowd at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall grew sullen.

One crimson-clad man in the southeast corner of the venue held a fist against his mouth, smushed underneath his nose. His neighbor just stared blankly at the court, hands pushing down on either side of his seat, holding his back straight.

Another sat with arms crossed, muttering simply, “Damn.”

What at first appeared to be a chance at a runaway victory over a struggling Nebraska squad quickly devolved into a one-point lead at the halftime break. Concerned, the Hoosier faithful seemed. Concerning, it was.

What turned into a 96-90 overtime win for IU was a tortuous back-and-forth, a contest where leads quickly disappeared like mirages in the desert. The Hoosiers’ porous defense made it necessary for a savior to appear.

Luckily, there was a willing hero.

Rob Phinisee, whose early season has been marred by injury, found the ball in his hands with the shot clock winding down in overtime. He used a pump fake to send a Husker flying by, sinking a 3 to create a six-point lead with 3:09 left. The crowd burst into applause with every basket, ready to feel the outcome in hand.

Seven of Phinisee’s 16 points came in the overtime, providing the boost the Hoosiers badly needed.

“Very satisfying,” Phinisee said. “I mean, really made shots for my team when they needed it. Really just tried to make a big play when we needed it.”

And the Hoosiers needed it. Bad.

After the game, IU coach Archie Miller was looking inward. He took the blame for not instructing his players to foul prior to Dachon Burke Jr.’s final 3 to tie at the end of regulation. He was questioning himself throughout the night, as the Hoosiers’ defense failed to find answers.

“I just sit here, I say, ‘Man, what could I have done to help our guys be better?'” Miller said. “But you’ve got to give Nebraska some credit, they had a lot to do with it. Very quick with the ball and those three guards really had their way with us.

“Finally found a group there late that worked, and Rob being back obviously saved us basically all week.”

Miller could speculate on why the Hoosiers (10-1) struggled the way they did. They didn’t make it back to their dorms until 5:30 in the morning after a win over UConn at Madison Square Garden, leaving the coaching staff scrambling to figure out a way to regroup for a game two days later.

IU may have lacked some energy, but, in all honesty, Miller couldn’t say all of the Hoosiers’ defensive issues were energy-related.

“We can’t guard the ball. Guard your man,” Miller said. “We’re getting picked on off the bounce. And those guys really exposed us to start the game.”

In the conference opener, IU was smacked around by the Badgers, but that was on the road. In the Hoosiers’ second Big Ten contest, the Cornhuskers were seemingly ripe for a mismatch, losers of three of their last four, down a regular starter at guard because of a suspension.

Out of the gate, the Hoosiers seemed capable of exploiting that. They burst out to an 11-2 lead, punctuated by an alley-oop from Al Durham to Justin Smith.

But after taking a 13-4 advantage, the Huskers went on a 12-0 run. In the instances where IU’s defense was non-threatening, Nebraska was streaky. After hitting one of their first five shots, the Huskers had first-half stretches where they hit five of six, two of nine, then four in a row.

At the end of the night, the Hoosiers could be proud of Phinisee, as well as freshman Trayce Jackson-Davis, who collected his fifth double-double with 25 points and 15 boards. Smith finished with 16 points and Durham added 14.

But were the Hoosiers happy with their defense?

“Not at all,” Smith answered, bluntly.

What could they do better?

“A lot,” Smith added. “Everything.”

“Give Nebraska credit,” Smith continued. “They played a really good game. But we can’t get spread out like that. We can’t give up those easy shots, easy 3s. We’ve just got to get a little bit tighter on defense.”

Only a couple of points separated the Hoosiers and the Huskers (4-6, 0-1 Big Ten) for most of the first half, and the tussle sustained itself. IU pounded the ball inside, either to Jackson-Davis, Joey Brunk or Smith. But the Huskers continued to sneak into the paint for layups.

A breakout built slowly in the final six or seven minutes of regulation, as a hook shot by Smith and split trips at the line by Jackson-Davis and Damezi Anderson built a 69-63 cushion, and the crowd built with enthusiasm as the game finally seemed in hand.

But that lead wasn’t safe, either. Thorir Thorbjarnarson’s 3-pointer cut it back to five and a turnover by the Hoosiers — they had 15 in the contest — led to a transition slam by Burke to cut it back to three points.

The lead back at four, another 3-pointer from Mack — this time, hitting the floor on a Durham foul — gave the Huskers a chance to tie with 39 seconds remaining.

It inevitably would have to go extra time. Phinisee would have to save the day, hitting a big 3-pointer and driving to the rim for two buckets.

The fans in the Hall could stand in unison, cheering a win in the Hoosiers’ Big Ten home opener.

But it was relief, as much as anything.

“We just weren’t sharp. We weren’t good,” Miller said. “And sometimes good games can go that way. We’re very fortunate to win, like I said.”

44 comments

  1. The only good thing I can say about tonight’s game is that IU won it. Not sure how they won it, and I don’t think they deserved to win it, but they won. Home court advantage, I guess.

    This was a terrible performance. Absolutely terrible. 20% on 3-point shots combined with terrible 3-point defense. That’s the way to lose basketball games. Nebraska outplayed IU, and they only entered the game with only eight scholarship players.

    We missed threes as if we’d never shot them before. We missed bunnies at the basket (and yes, TJD missed a couple). And we missed three throws. I lost count in the first half of how many wide-open three-point shots Nebraska had.

    Can this IU team win 13 more games? If they play like they did tonight, no way!

  2. 15 turnovers against this Nebraska team that only has 8 scholarship players?

    Allowing NE to make twelve 3-point shots while we only made 5; on our home court?

    Tonight, IU was the worst 10 – 1 team in the country.

  3. Friday night IU basketball program = death on dateline tv show. No college basketball program has any fear of playing IU because IU basketball is dead just like a mystery death on a Friday night dateline episode.

  4. Opponents know they have a good chance to beat and should beat IU (those at major conference level) and are 0 intimidated.

  5. Can somebody on this planet tell me what “big” who scores 25 points in a college game doesn’t miss one or two of his contested inside shots?

    Chippies? Bunnies? Are we serious here? We’re complaining about a freshman big who plays 35 minutes and contributes this stat line….

    25 points (9-12 including 22 second half points)
    15 rebounds
    3 blocks
    1 turnover
    7-11 free throws

    while all of these totals accomplished after a 3 point first half?

    He made 75% of his attempts! 15 boards! Never ran out of gas! Chippies? You want to talk about chippies when we likely witnessed the best early season performance by a freshman Hoosier big in the last three decades?

    Smith 16 points(5-9)…56% fg and 10 boards.

    41 combined points and 25 boards from Jackson-Davis and Smith. Let’s talk about chippies. Again, on what planet? You can’t be serious. Long live athleticism in Tijan Forever.

  6. People tend to forget that Robert Morris and Florida Coast Conference both were NCAA teams, and I think Robert Morris went deep into the tournament (and maybe FCC as well). Plus, they had 2 International Players.

  7. Key quote of Jon’s very well written article…..
    “They (IU) didn’t make it back to their dorms until 5:30 in the morning after a win over UConn at Madison Square Garden, leaving the coaching staff scrambling to figure out a way to regroup for a game two days later.”
    Does anybody look at a calendar or a map when they dream up these schedules, or is it all about the money and television dictates? Bet you all know the answer to that one.

  8. Archie better hope that it can land a 5 star player that shoot and score big time for next year’s team. The Nebraska Coach had his team of rag tags ready and a game plan for their limited experience and ability, they will be on the rise in the Big Ten, after some good recruiting classes. Its going to be another long winter in Bloomington as far a men’s basketball team, and the excuses and other reasons for the team’s performance won’t change the results of the games. The Big Ten basketball is going to be a kick ass league this winter and I U better start bringing the effort, or they are going to be on receiving end.

  9. While like everyone else I am somewhat concerned at how close this game was, I think Archie still has the program on the right course. Obviously, CAM can’t be happy with the defensive play and I suspect over the next week that will be a point of emphasis. However, we have to remember CAM still does not have all the pieces to his puzzle in place yet. I suspect the guys coming in next year are far more important to the plan than many realize.

    Yes, we continue to see flashes of both the good and the bad of Archie’s system while still under construction. However, I keep harping on Villanova and Virginia as models of the current state of ncaa basketball. Neither program was built in 1 or 2 years and had some rough years getting started. Yet those 2 schools account for 3 of the last 5 banners. Unless the paradigm changes, which is always possible, Archie is following those models in his own way to the letter.

  10. A win is a win . Take it and move on. After a good hard look at the schedule ahead I’m having a hard time seeing more than 18 wins for this team. Hope I’m wrong.

  11. I U South those “rag tags” were players from other schools that transferred in..they aren’t exactly “inexperienced” players vs Major competition. While All I read is CAM this or Archie that, I am reminded of a story I heard about bob knight from Dakich. He said they were getting their butts handed to them by Michigan and Coach called timeout and said “if you want to lose by 100 points keep playing your way or you can play my way and win…..IU Won. he gist of the story is the players didn’t go inside to post players UNTIL the 2nd half after CAM “reminded” them to execute. First half was as ugly as U CONN ..players still trying to find their identity on ALL fronts . The “shooting confidence” is shaky because IU doesn’t have a player with a “shooter’s mentality”. Devonte may have but if he doesn’t make early shot his overall play Tanks. what disappointed me was the defense intensity; I would have thought the defense played would advanced the defense in total, that seems to have regressed.

  12. I don’t buy that the travel back from NY may have affected this team’s performance on Friday night. These guys are supremely conditioned young athletes. I prefer the hypothesis that the first seven powder-puffs they played on their home court did little to prepare them mentally for the level of competition they’ll face in the Big Ten. I’ll also suggest that while TJD is an outstanding talent, and a phenomenal athlete, Archie has not recruited outside shooters who can be relied upon when defenses pack the paint. 20% from beyond the 3-point line on your home court? That’s just ridiculous.

    I hope they start to clean up the many things that were in evidence last night. Because otherwise, as I was thinking during the game last night, this team is going to struggle to win ten more game this season. And since the comparison to Villanova and Virginia has been made, as I pointed out last week, those two coaches struggled in their first two seasons, then showed significant progress in the third season, then made it to the Sweet 16 in their respective fourth seasons. I’m not seeing anything on IU’s horizon that suggests this program will be a Sweet 16 caliber team next year.

    1. Now you’ve gone from no athletic bigs…to no outside shooters? Dude, you just keep changing the argument to fit new narratives.

      Here’s the deal. Archie has had only two full seasons under his belt. This is the start of the 3rd. He didn’t kick guys off (some of those being guards) who came as roster remains….Rome bailed on him.
      Think about how much different this team looks if Romeo returns for a sophomore season? Was Romeo ready for the NBA?
      Archie is fighting a tough battle…He’s honoring scholarships of guys like Smith, Durham, Green, DeRon Davis(and then last year”s group as well). His choices aren’t that wide in filling in a roster. He secured Phinisee who has had the injury bug for two seasons.
      If Langford had stayed …and wanted a true challenge in the pursuit of banners and building on Archie’s start, we’re likely a top-10 team right now.

      But you can’t keep moving the goal posts, dude. Ten minutes ago you said we’re weak in athleticism in the front court. Now you’re bitching about the back court. It’s the start of his 3rd season….Give him ten years like you did the last genius who used coaching cue cards on storied McCracken. Where was the outrage when things had fallen beyond low then? I just remember a ton of excuses about OG being injured…and so on. The sort of excuses you’ve put to bed for Archie and his point guard.

    2. Po,
      You’re off on your Villanova and Virginia numbers a little bit. It was not until the 4th season that Jay Wright got Villanova on the right track. They didn’t win his first championship with them until his 15th year. Up until the 4th season Villanova looked very much like Archie’s first 2 season.

      Tony Bennett was able to get Virginia on the right track by his 3rd season, but they didn’t win the championship until his 10th season. Lest we forget, they also had to endure one of the greatest setbacks in ncaa tournament history, being the first overall number one seed to lose in the round of 64.

      I keep reminding everyone that unless the current basketball paradigm changes, these 2 program models have won 3 of the last 5 championships.

  13. I disagree that shooters are not being recruited. Rather, lost recruiting battles to other programs. D. Anderson was hyped as a shooter. I disagreed with that when I watched him in state finals against Carmel. D.A. was not good. He has done nothing to change my mind.

  14. Damezi did hit some very clutch free throws down the stretch…He also made some great hustle plays and was fiercely going after every board and loose ball.

    One lights out perimeter guy would help….Phinisee, Green, Durham and Franklin are all very good shooters but none could be really described as pure.

    We’ll see how it all works out.

  15. The Assembly Call fellas said something insightful last night:

    “There is a reasonable middle ground between ‘We’re 10-1, period’ and ‘Wins be damned, the team and coach suck.’

    If you want to remain supportive of the team while also holding them to a higher standard of play than what we’ve seen, come join us in this reasonable middle ground.”

    There are a lot of way to try and dissect the team this year. There’s a lot of smart hoops people here, so I’m curious to hear more about what people think from that perspective. I can’t really figure this team out. I’m balancing two thoughts that don’t seem to reconcile with one another. I feel like we are a much better team; the chemistry is way better than last year. But I also feel like this is a team that could lose 8 in a row. I think I have too much scar tissue to be objective. I just hate watching an Indiana team, that has a lot of talent, but little experience, play like that against a team that might not win a B1G game this year.

    Trying to be balanced here. But I just don’t have any idea what I’m looking at this year. I feel like, all of the analysis about this team is true. They should just rename themselves: Schrodinger’s Cats.

    1. Watching this team – Found for me I’ll watch first 5 minutes. If the normal floundering start, I’ll just record the game and go to bed. Watch the next day (after checking the outcome). Easier on the BP and I’ll be more objective instead of PO’ed. Works for me.

  16. I doubt if Archie really knows the middle ground, high ground, low ground…or any ground for this team yet.
    Personally, I don’t like the unstable situation at point guard. I don’t think you can have a great team without a standout point guard. Will Phinisee lift up his game to be that ‘standout’ and steady orchestrator? That’s the biggest question mark. With as much as he’s been injured last season …and the early part of this season, he’s basically playing as a freshman.
    Who does the other four on the floor look to as the steadying force in the toughest games/situations?
    So far it’s a mishmash….and that’s why it looks like a mishmash. Phinisee? Green? Durham? Who is the leader of this team from which much growth and confidence emanates and settles the other four?

  17. H4h. I suppose the ace in the hole regarding D.A. is sometimes including myself forgotten they are college freshman (DA now a sophomore). To be a little more fair the question is DA development. Sometime during his junior or at beginning of his senior year will he become a prolific player as in bigger, stronger, more confident, and just a lot better and that includes shooting in this level of competition. It will tell by 2021-2022.

    1. t- Agree. I do think Damezi was one of the big factors getting the ‘W’ against Nebraska. His hustle and activity + boards + intangibles were key. His perimeter shooting does need to improve….Let’s hope.

  18. Just a thought but against UConn our offense was lost but the defense was good. I suspect the coaches worked on the offense the most over the next 48 hrs. Then the defense fell apart vs. Neb. Coincidence?

    The #1 issue in this game was 3 pt. shooting. 5 FOR 25 vs. 12 FOR 35. They out scored us by 21 from long range. We made it up at the line.

    So, where was Green’s game? If he was 1/2 as good as he thought he was, we’d be Top 10. His defense is a liability & his showboating leads to TOs. He’s going to be hit & miss all season. That’s his MO.

    Outside of him, Franklin & Phinisee probably have the best pure shots. Durham’s better this year, but not a reliable shooting threat.

    Lastly, the depth on this team is leading to a lot of inconsistency. There’s a forever rotating 5 for 40, sometimes 45 min, every game. I think there’s some role confusion as a result. Still a lot of youth on this squad. In summary, the depth hasn’t gelled yet. When it did, we smacked down FSU.

    1. The hope being CAM is still in the process of determining what group works. Otherwise true, the continuous substitutions seem disruptive .

  19. AWinAZ- In much agreement with your conclusions(especially the last two paragraphs concerning our best shooters, consistency and depth/rotation issues contributing to chemistry taking some time to develop.

    1. That’s only 12.5 more seconds than me! Life’s a booger….
      Romeo seeing about $3,000,000/yr for 12 seconds….or $250,000/second on an NBA court. Life is certainly a booger.

      Thanks for cheering me up, Ronald.

  20. think, in my original post on this subject, I copied and pasted both Wright and Bennett’s records for their first four seasons at Villanova and Virginia, so I’m pretty sure the numbers were correct. As I said in both posts, both Wright’s and Bennett’s teams produced sub-par records in their first two seasons at their respective schools. Then they showed marked improvement in year three. Then both coaches lead their respective teams to the Sweet Sixteen in their fourth season. Since some want to compare Archie to Wright and Bennett, my questions are: 1) will IU replicate that significant improvement in Archie’s third season at IU? and 2) will next year’s IU roster be good enough to make it to the Sweet 16? Friday night’s performance creates doubt that Archie can duplicate the trajectory that Wright and Bennett established at Villanova and Virginia, respectively.

    And when I say “recruit,” I mean sign, as in signing a Letter-of-Intent. It doesn’t matter who Archie tries to recruit, what matters are the players he convinces to play for IU! So far, the players he has convinced to play for IU don’t seem to be good outside shooters.

    1. Po,
      I am not sure what you are looking at but what I have found on Jay Wright’s first 3 years at Villanova is: 19-13, 15-16, and 18-17. His first year I guess you could call okay, but Wright’s 2nd and 3rd years are hardly the stuff to write home about, even with the trips to the NIT. They appear to be very Archie like records, and I am not aware of Wright having to deal with a season anywhere near what Archie had to last year during those years.

  21. Did I hear correctly that Mike Brey has been the coach at Notre Dame for 20 years? He had a Sweet 16 in his 3rd season…and then he went 10 years before getting to a Sweet 16 again(ending at back-to-back Elite Eights).

    Sometimes you just have to be extremely patient. I see no reason to not give Archie the same 10 years we gave to Tom Crean. As long as Archie doesn’t resort to cue cards, I’m good.

    How long has Painter been at Purdue? Answer: 15 seasons. 1 Elite Eight…which took him 14 years to accomplish. He didn’t get to a Sweet 16 until his fourth season.

    John Beilein? 11 years at Michigan…Didn’t get anywhere beyond a Round of 32 until his sixth season…(Final Four and became national runner-up).

    Some very good coaches put in a lot of seasons until finding tournament success.
    A Bob Knight or Brad Stevens simply don’t pop up very often…Usually, this is what pops up.

  22. Wow…I never noticed the foreshadowing in the GIF/clip provided above where Crean is hopping and slapping his arm like a lunatic during our NCAA tournament game against Wichita State… (the game in which a timeout couldn’t get communicated in the huddle for a need to foul and stop the clock).
    The foreshadowing I never noticed before…?
    A Dayton Flyers vs. Providence tip-off time flashes in the box at the upper-right corner when nearing the end of the GIF/clip as Crean has March Madness meltdown….Prophetic message of things to come? Sort of strange…
    March 20, 2015.

  23. That Division II Nebraska team is giving Purdon’t fits in Lincoln….(albeit on their home court, but still).
    Purdon’t looks like they really suck this year….

    BigTen is wide open….

  24. AND Nebraska just took out Purdue. They dominated them, at home. That tough game is looking a lot different today…

    Freakin’ college hoops. Gotta love it!

    1. Very interesting development. It does put a little bit a of different perspective on Friday nights results. Remember NE played IU with 6 days to prepare, and PU with less than a 2 day turnaround. Not to mention ole PU had a week to prepare for NE.

  25. Got to give NE great credit. Their new coach has those eight scholarship players playing well above their talent level. Good for them. He may be named Big Ten Coach of the Year if NE keeps playing like this.

  26. My guess for BigTen Coach of the Year is Underwood…..I had my eye on him before we picked Archie. He’s a keeper. The Texas Tech coach is another good one…..(I’m at a loss for his name at the moment…though I know he studied under Knight)…Starts with a ‘B’…?

  27. Mike Chris Beard always says how much BK influenced him. Two reasons he took assistant job at Texas Tech. 1. Because it was BK. 2. To be closer to his daughters. Beard was a graduate at Abilene Christian. Go figure.

  28. And down goes Ohio State.

    Yeeeeeeeesssssssh. Tough day for the road teams in the Big Ten.

    But if you’re Wafford, just walk into the Dean Dome and take it the Tar Heels.

    Jeebus…feels like the first round of the tournament today.

  29. And Michigan lost at home to Oregon…..Life after Beilein will not be joyous.

    Purdue, OSU and Michigan all lose….They must all need more athletic bigs …and more shooters…and better recruiting……and sky is falling after barely into the season…and doom and gloom….and they’re no longer elite(if they were ever elite).

    No sooner than the grass is greener on the other side, our grass is actually pretty green. And what BigTen fans give better support to the home team than provided by our Skjodts Turf Builder fans ….?

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