[Postgame 3-2-1] What We Learned From Indiana's 86-70 loss at Nebraska
Here are three key stats, two observations, and one lingering question from Indiana's blowout loss in Lincoln.
That was rough.
For the first time this season, I considered turning the television off and going to bed. I’m sure many of you also considered it … or even did it.
These 9:00 p.m. tips are tough when the product on the floor is so uninspiring and unentertaining. And these kinds of performances are happening way too often.
Last night in Lincoln, Kesei Tominaga, whose family in attendance (and we were reminded of that at least a dozen times on the broadcast), torched the Hoosiers from beyond the arc.
The Cornhuskers stepped on the gas in the second half and rarely let the lead dip to under a half-dozen.
It all led to Indiana picking up their fourth loss of the season while dropping an important opportunity for a Quad One win (assuming Nebraska continues to play well).
There is a lot to unpack from an abysmal night for Indiana in The Cornhusker State.
Here are three key stats, two observations, and one lingering question from Indiana’s most recent performance.
Did you miss yesterday's edition of the postgame show?
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3 Meaningful Stats
1. Kel’el Ware scored or assisted on 37% of Indiana’s points.
Kel’el was listed as questionable on the Big Ten availability report after missing last week’s game vs Kennesaw State with an illness, but the Oregon transfer did not miss a beat in his return, scoring 20 points on 9-12 shooting while also collecting 10 rebounds.
Additionally, Ware assisted on two 3s in the second half.
Kel’el was the only Hoosier who seemed to have a will to win last night. He stayed out of foul trouble and had to remain on the floor because Malik Reneau and Mackenzie Mgbako were in early foul trouble.
Ware just ran out of gas in the second half. This is not surprising due to the load he had to bear in his first game after an illness.
Malik had 14 points overall, doing most of his damage in the second half. The automatic two-foul bench for the rest of the half from Mike Woodson took Malik out of any rhythm he may have found despite Nebraska’s constant doubling.
In a game where you knew Kel’el wouldn’t be in the best physical shape, you cannot make him carry the freight like he did last night. That is on Coach Woodson for taking his team out of the game in the first half because of a self-imposed rule when a player picks up their second foul.
Kel’el deserves the game ball for his performance, but he was let down by his teammates and coaching staff by fouling out their players in the first half.
2. Nebraska had 27 points off of Indiana’s 19 turnovers
Heading into the game, Nebraska ranked 228th in the country in turnovers forced per game. Last night, they put a hurt on the Hoosiers — forcing 19 turnovers and capitalizing on them to the tune of 27 points off those turnovers.
This is flat-out embarrassing from Indiana. Nebraska played solid defense, but most of these turnovers were unforced, live-ball turnovers.
“We just had some unforced turnovers that were unacceptable,” Mike Woodson said postgame. “We’ve got to go back and fix that because you’re not going to beat anybody in the Big Ten doing that.”
On top of this, Indiana showed little hustle back on defense off these turnovers, leading to wide open looks from 3 for the Cornhuskers.
The amount of live-ball turnovers that Indiana had last night was concerning. I can live with throwing a bad pass out of bounds, but getting the ball stripped in the post and not hustling back should lead to a player sitting on the bench.
There seemed to be no fight left in this team in the later parts of the game.
The Indiana bench was dormant with about ten minutes left in the game. There was no energy from the guys on the bench — way too much bad body language from everybody on and off the floor.
Mental toughness is what wins games, especially on the road, and Indiana had low amounts of mental toughness last night. Nebraska, on the other hand, played really well defensively, and it seemed that every 50/50 ball was 70/30 in favor of the Cornhuskers.
There is no excuse for Indiana being that sloppy. Continuing to only show up for big games in Bloomington will only make Hoosier fans more frustrated.
3. Indiana shot 7-10 from three in the second half.
Morale victory time, folks!
This is an encouraging stat for a team that has struggled to take and make shots. The Hoosiers shot 9-18 from downtown overall in the game. (To avoid being naïve, it is worth noting that the Hoosiers made four of their second-half 3s with less than six minutes left in a 20-point game.)
The numbers sound good, but in a game where you are trailing by a dozen in the second half, there should have been more shots going up from beyond the arc, as the guys discussed on the postgame show.
The improved 3-point efficiency is a step in the correct direction for Indiana, but outside of Mackenzie Mgbako, Indiana doesn’t have players ready to shoot the ball when they catch it.
Numerous times in the first half last night, we saw guys that had a decent look at three decide not to shoot the ball and later turn the ball over, dribbled into a long 2, or pass to a player who ended up taking a worse shot.
Indiana has taken way too many long 2s season year, and that is an issue for both the players and the coaching staff to figure out. If that continues, Indiana will continue its struggles in January.