By Kent Wolgamott, Associated Press
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — It took a second-half spurt to build a 19-point lead and then tough defense during an eight-minute scoring drought for Indiana to collect a rarity on Saturday night, an 82-74 Big Ten Conference road win over Nebraska.
Trayce Jackson-Davis had 18 points and 13 rebounds to lead Indiana (14-4, 4-3). Joey Brunk had 16 points and Justin Smith finished with 15.
Going into Saturday, there had been only six Big Ten conference road wins, which, Indiana coach Archie Miller said, made the win at Nebraska important.
“It’s very, very hard to win in this league on the road. … To be able to come out with one tonight is really, really important for us moving forward. … The Big Ten’s going to be one of the more jumbled leagues I’m sure until somebody can start to get a few of these. And hold serve at home,” Miller said.
Cam Mack scored 17 of his 20 points in the first half for Nebraska (7-11, 2-5).
Up 46-41 at half, Indiana opened the second period with a 16-2 run, scoring six straight to take a 52-41 lead on Brunk’s jumper with 17:53 remaining, and stretched the lead to 62-43 on Smith’s 3-pointer with 15:02 left.
Nebraska came storming back with a 13-2 run of its own, cutting the Hoosier lead to 70-62 on Mack’s free throws with 8:03 remaining. Both teams then struggled to score with Indiana missing shots and Nebraska turning the ball over.
Brunk scored three straight, including the Hoosiers’ first basket in 8:07, that stretched the lead to 73-62 with 4:45 left. Nebraska cut the deficit to six twice in the final minute, both on Thorir Thorbjarnarson layups. But a pair of Jackson-Davis free throws with 27 seconds left sealed the Indiana win.
Thorbjarnarson finished with 13 points for the Cornhuskers. Dachon Burke added 12 points and Haanif Cheatam had 10.
“They got up on us early,” Jackson-Davis said. We kind of weathered the storm. Then we punched them in the mouth a little bit and they came right back, but I’m glad we found a way at the end to get the job done.”
The Cornhuskers used an 11-0 run to take a nine-point lead midway through the first half. Indiana countered with a 22-6 spurt to go up eight on Jackson-Davis’s layup with 2:25 left in the half and led by five at intermission.
Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg said his young, inexperienced team hasn’t yet learned how to battle through the tough stretches in which they fall too far behind to make up the difference and win games.
“We just aren’t deep enough, talented enough right now to fight through those stretches,” Hoiberg said. “We certainly showed that we’re capable, but the overall consistency needs to get better.”
Indiana: Indiana was scheduled to fly into Lincoln, Nebraska on Friday evening, but didn’t arrive until 11 a.m. Saturday because of the winter storm that caused flights to be cancelled across the middle of the country.
“I just try not to think about it,” Jackson-Davis said. “We just always have to come in with the same mindset and just play. Legs were a little tired in the beginning, but we found a way, just adrenaline started kicking in. We were good.”
Nebraska: Nebraska lost its third straight Big Ten Conference game and face one of the toughest schedules in the country for the remainder of the season, with six games left against ranked opponents.
Indiana hosts No. 15 Michigan State on Thursday.
Nebraska travels to Wisconsin on Tuesday.
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