Clutch free throws seal win in Big Ten opener as Indiana beats Nebraska 70-65

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LINCOLN, Nebraska — In February, Indiana came into Pinnacle Bank Arena, built a 16-point first-half lead, but lost to Nebraska 60-55. Wednesday, the Hoosiers blew another 16-point first-half lead, but rebuilt the margin to 13 and held off the Cornhuskers 70-65.

"That's a great sign of maturity for us," said Indiana coach Tom Crean. "It takes a while for that maturity process to kick, especially when they're away from your bench, on the other end of the floor. We closed the game well. Obviously, they made a comeback at the end."

Nick Zeisloft hit a pair of free throws with 33 seconds left and Collin Hartman added one 21 seconds later to stem Nebraska's comeback and seal the win for Indiana.

The three free throws were the only points scored by Indiana (11-3, 1-0 Big Ten) in the final 4:50 of the run-filled game.

Nebraska (8-5, 0-1) came out of halftime strong, hitting five of its first seven shots, outscoring Indiana 14-2 and taking a 46-42 lead on Walter Pitchford's shot-clock-beating 27-foot 3-pointer with 15:28 left.

Indiana expected that Nebraska comeback, said Robert Johnson, who led the Hoosiers with 14 points.

"We talked about that, preparing for that run," he said. "We talked about different things, like momentum swings and things like that. It just all comes back to getting stops. Once they go on the run, you've got to keep your composure, get something good offensively and try to string together two or three stops to get back into the game and get the lead back."

The Hoosiers did more than that, taking a 49-48 lead on James Blackmon Jr.'s free throws with 13:30 left, extending the margin to 56-49 on Troy Williams' putback with 8:55 left. Hanner Mosquera-Perea's inside jumper with 4:50 left capped a 25-8 Indiana run, putting the Hoosiers up 67-54.

The Huskers countered with a final 10-0 run, holding Indiana scoreless for more than four minutes and cutting the Hoosier lead to 67-64 on David Rivers' free throws with 1:05 left.

"I thought our guys were pretty good the second half," said Nebraska coach Tim Miles. "The first half, I thought they were just too uptight. I felt like we gave them a good run. It's hard not to think you beat yourself when you miss all those early shots."

Indiana came into Wednesday averaging 86 points a game and, in the first half, it appeared the Hoosiers would match that mark.

Indiana used a 15-1 run to take a 17-8 lead on Emmitt Holt's jumper with 12:57 left in the first half. Indiana led by as many as 16 before Nebraska put together a 10-2 run capped by a Terran Petteway 3-pointer with eight seconds left to trail 40-32 at the half.

"In the first half, we tried to play at their pace and that is why they got their lead on us. In the second half, we looked like us, but we have to put together a full game," Petteway said.

Crean and Miles got into a verbal confrontation at mid-court after a hard foul by Nebraska's Tai Webster on Mosquera-Perea with 9:43 left in the game. Neither coach would talk about the confrontation in post-game interviews.

TIP-INS

Indiana: The Hoosiers, who were 7 of 24 from 3-point range, had made at least seven 3-pointers in their previous 14 games this season. ... Last year, the Hoosiers made seven or more 3-pointers just 8 times in 32 games.

Nebraska: The Huskers played without Leslee Smith and Moses Abraham, their two experienced big men who they hoped would return for Big Ten conference play. ... Abraham, who has a broken hand, and Smith, recovering from a torn ACL, are now expected to return in about two weeks.

UP NEXT

Indiana visits Michigan State Monday.

Nebraska visits Iowa Monday.

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