Lincoln -Jorge Brian Diaz hit two free throws with 11.0 seconds left to cap Nebraska's comeback, as the Husker stunned No. 11 Indiana, 70-69, at the Devaney Center Wednesday evening.
Nebraska trailed 69-68 when Jordan Hulls missed the front end of a 1-and-1, and Brandon Richardson got the rebound to give the Huskers a final possession. NU gave the ball to Bo Spencer, who drove the lane and found Diaz under the hoop and drew contact.
Diaz, who was 4-of-5 from the line and finished with 10 points and four rebounds, then calmly sank both free throws to give Nebraska (10-8, 2-5 Big Ten) its first lead since the 14 minute mark of the first half. Indiana (15-4, 3-4 Big Ten) had a final possession, but Hulls missed inside on a scoop shot before his despiration 3-pointer at the buzzer was off the mark, giving the Huskers a much-needed win over a ranked foe.
Bo Spencer led four Huskers in double figures with a game-high 23 points, while Toney McCray (11 points) and Dylan Talley (10 points and nine rebounds) helped lead Nebraska from an 11-point deficit in the final 6:38 in posting their first win over a ranked foe this season.
Trailing 63-52, McCray's 3-pointer ignited an 8-0 Husker spurt, as Nebraska pulled to within 63-60 with 4:28 remaining. Hulls, who finished with 12 points, hit a 3-pointer to end the run but Talley, who finished with eight of his 10 points down the stretch, answered with a 3-pointer to pull the Huskers within 65-63.
The game would be a one-possession contest the rest of the way, as Indiana pushed ahead at 69-66 after a pair of Hulls free throws, but Talley's jumper with 19 seconds left made it a one-point game.
Cody Zeller led Indiana with 18 points and seven rebounds, as the Hoosiers shot 51 percent, but committed 15 turnovers which led to 16 Nebraska points.
Indiana shot the lights out in the first half, hitting 62 percent from the floor, including 5-of-9 from 3-point range in taking a 41-34 lead into the break.
Nebraska built a 12-8 lead on baskets from Diaz and Spencer, but Christian Watford and Will Sheehey combined for all 10 points in a 10-1 surge, building an 18-13 lead after a Sheehey 3-pointer.
The Huskers, led by Spencer's 15 points in the first half, battled and was within 27-26 after a Brandon Ubel basket. Zeller then took over, as his 3-point play keyed a 5-0 run to extend the Hoosiers' lead to 32-26. Nebraska eventually pulled to within 37-33, but could not get closer in the half, as the Hoosiers took a seven-point lead into the break.
Nebraska came out ice cold in the second half, missing their first six shots from the floor as Indiana built a 13-point lead at 49-36 after a Zeller dunk. The Huskers fought back, as Spencer had five quick points in a 6-0 run to pull Nebraska within striking distance at 51-44 with 12:53 left.
The Huskers return to action Saturday night, as they host No. 6 Ohio State at the Devaney Center. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. and tickets are available by calling 800-8-BIGRED or visiting Huskers.com
*-Tonight's win was the Huskers' first over the Hoosiers since Nebraska won 38-18 at home on Feb. 6, 1920.
*-The Huskers are now 2-8 all-time against the Hoosiers and snapped Indiana's seven-game winning streak that dated back to a 43-42 Hoosier win on Dec. 23, 1937.
*-Nebraska improves to 1-3 against ranked teams this season and tonight's win was the ninth over a ranked team in Doc Sadler's six seasons at Nebraska.
*-Entering the night, Indiana was 8-0 on the season when shooting 50% or better from the field. The Hoosiers shot 51% from the field against the Huskers, including 44% (8-18) from the three-point line.
*-Tonight's win marked the second time this season the Huskers have trailed by double figures in the second half and have come back to win after being down by 10 to TCU.
*-Head Coach Doc Sadler has now led the Huskers to seven wins during his career after trailing by double digits in the second half.
*-Bo Spencer totaled his fifth 20-point game of the season, the most since Ade Dagunduro had five in the 2008-09 season.
*-Spencer's 23 points was a season-high for a Husker in Big Ten play, as the previous high was 19 by Spencer against Penn State on Jan. 11
*-Brandon Richardson finished with three steals, his sixth game with at least three steals this season.
*-Nebraska's 10 three pointers made tied their season high, as they also made 10 against Rhode Island
*-Nebraska attempted a season-high 30 three pointers, topping their previous high of 25 against Michigan State.
*-Indiana went 8-of-18 from 3-point range for 44 percent. In the prior five games, opponents shot just 15.5 percent from 3-point range
*-Dylan Talley tied a career high with nine rebounds, as he also had nine against South Dakota in the season opener
Nebraska Head Coach Doc Sadler
It goes without saying what a great win that was. In the first-half, I thought Indiana's offensive efficiency was so good and they were getting it down the floor on us. They were rim-running with their post. They knew to get into those ball screens and I thought for two days at practice we did an excellent job and it was just a whole different level of speed and we didn't make the adjustment in the first-half on the defensive end. You have to give them credit because that is the strength of their basketball team. On our offensive end, I thought we were impatient. That is something that when one team starts scoring points, if you aren't careful, you'll start falling into that trap. I definitely believe that the strength of Indiana is their offense and we couldn't match them getting up and down the court. I thought we had to get into the high 60's to win it and we did. I told some of you this yesterday, but the team that won the free throw battle would win, because that's an area that we have to have in order for us to score enough points. It was a good win guys, it was a great win. What can you say? We needed it and needed it bad. A couple of you that have been coming to practice have commented that this team has faced a lot of adversity and for them to keep practicing like they have is pretty impressive. The game was won in the last two days. We got lucky and we hit some shots, but we took good shots.
On the final play to Jorge Brian Diaz and getting the ball inside
We call that play handback. We have run it three or four times and it's a guard wing entry. It's a moving screen and (Toney) McCray sets enough of a screen to knock a guy off. He was able to turn the corner and they came over and again, it was a very unselfish basketball play that Bo (Spencer) made to (Jorge) Brian (Diaz). I wish he would have made it and then made the free-throws but they executed it. We didn't panic. Was it 19 seconds when they were shooting the free-throws? We came down and Brandon (Richardson) had control of it and got into the play and it worked this time.
On Diaz making two free-throws to give Nebraska the final lead
I thought it was luck. Nah, it was very clutch. He stepped up there and made them. He didn't practice the last two days and it's probably going to be that way. He's just going to have to step in there and play. At the same time, you know, you saw six games when he didn't play and it is a different ball team with him in the game.
On if beating Indiana is a big win or if the team will move on
Right now, I wouldn't care if it was against Southeast High School. We need wins. I mean, yeah, nationally, yeah, it helps. But we don't need to get caught up. I told somebody today that I hated the 18-game schedule until we started 1-5 and now I'm glad we are playing 18 games in league. There is so much basketball left for this team and it isn't going to be easy. We have a pretty good team coming in here on Saturday.
On winning a few big games at home over the past few years
That's college basketball. That is the thing about it. You're supposed to win at home. We have let too many home games go this year. It is what it is. We have had two chances on the road to steal a couple but we didn't do it, and at some point we are going to have to do that now. We didn't prepare any different. We made some shots tonight.
On the atmosphere of the game tonight
I wish I could see them on the floor after every game. That means everybody is happy so that is pretty big. Let's be real. That is what it is about in college. They see other people do it so they want to do it, and I'm glad we gave them the opportunity to do it.
Indiana Head Coach Tom Crean
First off, this league has 12 teams that can play with anybody. We're one of them, as is Nebraska. I don't know who I said it to yesterday, but you can't get too concerned with records with anybody in this league right now. We certainly never played Nebraska like they'd won one game. We knew how good they were. Our guys had great edge tonight; they had excellent energy. We did so many good things. We played very well, we had excellent ball movement. We were going against a team that was only allowing 22% from the three in the league, and we got some really good looks. We held this team to 38%, but we didn't make enough of the big stops. We made some, we were very locked in to what they wanted to do but at the same time, they made the plays.
For us, we've got to take care of the ball better. I think we're going to go back and look at the film and we're going to look at the turnovers in the second half and just see how excruciatingly painful those were for us, because those turned into more easy baskets for Nebraska. They're a very good team. I've said it since they got in the league. They are extremely well-coached, Doc is an excellent coach. They are so sound in so many areas, and we knew they weren't going to go away and we had to put them away. And we didn't do that. We did not do that. At the end of the game, we had a very good look, and we probably made it a little more challenging and difficult than it needed to be to give ourselves a chance to win it. We got a shot, we really did. We were in that position; we didn't want to be in that position but you just deal with it.
Now, we just got a group of guys that have an edge, that have a desire, and we've got to make sure that we refocus them, that we reenergize them, and we do not let them get discouraged. We make sure that we understand disappointment is inevitable in life, but discouragement is our choice and we choose not to have it. So that's our biggest goal right now as a coaching staff with our team is to get them to understand there were a lot of very good things but we did not close this game. And there were some things that reared their head tonight in the form of turnovers, in the form of some missed assignments defensively, and they made us pay, as good teams do.
On if Nebraska's defense had a cumulative effect that led to forced turnovers
Well, that's a good question. I'm sure some of it, but I think some of it was just our strength with the basketball and some decision-making. But again, they were good defensively, but so were we. We held them to 38%, I mean we shot 51% for the game. It wasn't like we couldn't get shots. But when the game is tight and you don't put it away, those turnovers come back and get you.
On Nebraska's offense and the contributions of Bo Spencer
I think they're a lot more than that. Now, he's quick and athletic off the dribble and he got hot, but we knew McCray was ready to break out, there's no doubt about that. We know Talley's getting healthier. We know Diaz is an incredibly hard matchup because he can score over either shoulder. I think they've got a lot of pieces. I think that speed and quickness starts with him, with Bo Spencer. I'll give him credit, I don't know the young man but he did a phenomenal job tonight of really using his teammates. They've got some veterans and they played like that at the end. They made some tough plays. We've got some guys that have been through it, and we didn't take care of the ball as well.