Husker Hoops set to open Big Ten play at Indiana Friday

From: Nebraska Athletics

The Nebraska men’s basketball team opens Big Ten action on Friday night, as the Huskers travel to Assembly Hall for the matchup with Indiana. 

Tipoff at Assembly Hall is set for 7 p.m., and the matchup between the Huskers and Hoosiers will be televised nationally on BTN with Kevin Kugler and Shon Morris on the call. The game will also be available on the Fox Sports app on tablets, computers and mobile devices.

Fans can follow all of the action across the state of Nebraska on the Learfield-IMG Husker Sports Network with Kent Pavelka and Jake Muhleisen on the call. The game will also be available on Huskers.com, the Huskers app and TuneIn radio. The pregame show begins one hour prior to tipoff.

Nebraska (4-5) ran into a buzzsaw last Saturday, as the Huskers fell at Creighton, 95-76. The Bluejays shot 51 percent, including 8-of-16 from 3-point range, in the first half, while holding the Huskers to just 24 percent in the opening 20 minutes. NU played a much better second half, outscoring Creighton, 54-47, in the final 20 minutes. 

Senior Haanif Cheatham led five Huskers in double figures with 14 points, the fifth consecutive game he has reached double figures. A 6-foot-5 guard, Cheatham paces the Huskers in both scoring (12.6 ppg) and rebounding (5.2 rpg) while ranking among the Big Ten leaders in field goal percentage (.573). He is one of four Huskers averaging double figures in a balanced attack, while four others average at least five points per game. 

The Huskers wrap up their three-game road trip by taking on an Indiana team that is 9-1 on the season following a 57-54 win over UConn at the Jimmy V Classic in New York City Tuesday evening. In that game, Indiana didn’t put anyone in double figures, but had six players score at least six points, while limiting UConn to 36 percent shooting in the second half. The Hoosiers feature one of the Big Ten’s top freshmen in Trayce Jackson-Davis, who leads the Hoosiers in both scoring (14.1 ppg) and rebounding (8.5 rpg). 

The Huskers will have a quick turnaround, as they return to action Sunday afternoon to take on a Purdue team which is 6-3 on the year and has been off since a 14-point win over Northwestern on Dec. 7.

WATCH

Fred Hoiberg, Huskers preview Big Ten opener at Indiana:

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT
Matej Kavas tied a season high with three 3-pointers in the loss at Creighton on Saturday. He needs 14 3-pointers to reach 200 for his career. Kavas has given the Huskers a spark off the bench in his first year at NU, reaching double figures in four of his eight games off the bench.

NUMBERS TO KNOW
.526 – Thorir Thorbjarnarson is second in the Big Ten in 3-point percentage entering this week’s action. He is 10-of-19 from long range this season after going a combined 6-of-28 behind the 3-point stripe in his first two years. 

4 – Double-digit scoring performances from Kevin Cross, which is the most by a Husker freshman since 2016-17 (5-Jeriah Horne and 4-Jordy Tshimanga). 

5.0 – Rebounds per game for freshman Ivan Ouedraogo, which is fourth among all Big Ten freshmen. His rebounds per game is on track to be the highest by a Husker freshman since Aleks Maric grabbed 6.3 rebounds per game in 2005-06.

5.7 – Assists per game for sophomore Cam Mack, which is on pace to be the highest average since Charles Richardson Jr. averaged 5.8 assists per game in 2006-07. 

8 – Nebraska has had eight players score in double-figures during the first eight games of the season. Nebraska has four players averaging double figures.  

50- Returning point total from last season, all by Thorir Thorbjarnarson. That is the lowest by any power conference team since the 2009-10 season.

SCOUTING INDIANA
Archie Miller is in his third season at Indiana after guiding the Dayton program for six years, leading the Flyers to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances. Miller’s first Indiana team went 16-15, and the Hoosiers improved to 19-16 and reached the NIT quarterfinals before falling to Wichita State. 

The Hoosiers have been prolific offensively, ranking among the Big Ten leaders in scoring offense (80.3), field-goal percentage (.494) and 3-point percentage (.344) while getting to the foul line nearly 29 times per game. Indiana is also third in the Big Ten in rebounding margin, averaging 9.0 more caroms per game than its opponents.

The Hoosiers won their first eight games by double figures at Assembly Hall, highlighted by a 16-point win over Florida State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, before falling at Wisconsin 84-64 on Saturday. The Hoosiers responded with a 57-54 win over UConn in New York on Tuesday, winning despite shooting 37 percent from the field. 

Indiana comes into Friday’s game with four players averaging double figures. Freshman Trayce Jackson-Davis leads the Hoosiers in scoring (14.1), field goal percentage (.627), rebounding (8.5 rpg) and blocked shots (1.9 bpg). Devonte Graham comes off the bench and averages 13.6 points per game and leads IU with 16 3-pointers, while Justin Smith (13.2 ppg) and Aliami Durham (12.7 ppg) also average double figures.

LAST SEASON’S MATCHUP
The Huskers started fast and finished strong, never trailing No. 25 Indiana in a 66-51 victory over the Hoosiers at Assembly Hall on Jan. 14, 2019. Nebraska scored the first nine points of the game and held Indiana without a basket over the final 5:38 en route to picking up their first road victory over a ranked opponent in more than two years. 

Nebraska’s seniors shined in the win. Glynn Watson Jr. paced the Huskers with 15 points – including 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the second half – while Isaac Copeland Jr. chipped in 14 points and eight rebounds. James Palmer Jr. filled up the stat sheet with 11 points, a career-high-tying nine rebounds and a season-high seven assists. Tanner Borchardt was big off the bench, scoring seven points and grabbing five rebounds. Together, the four seniors combined for 47 points and 27 rebounds, while sophomore Thomas Allen added 10 points for the Big Red and junior Isaiah Roby had nine points and four rebounds. Romeo Langford led Indiana with a game-high 18 points, but he was just 5-of-14 from the field. Juwan Morgan added 17 points, but no other Hoosier had more than five points.