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Inconsistent Indiana vows to ‘keep working,’ battles Nebraska


A key early Big Ten Conference matchup is on tap to start the new year when Nebraska hosts Indiana on Wednesday night in Lincoln, Neb.

The visiting Hoosiers (10-3, 2-0 Big Ten) opened league play a month ago with wins over Maryland and Michigan, the latter on the road, and are looking for their first 3-0 start since 2018-19.

But since then, they dropped a pair of games and also had shaky home performances against Morehead State and Kennesaw State, both of which required second-half comebacks.

“We won, that’s what matters,” Indiana coach Mike Woodson said after the 100-87 win over Kennesaw State. “And we just gotta keep working.”

That game saw Indiana get 34 points from sophomore forward Malik Reneau, who made 13 of 19 shots from the field and added 11 rebounds. He had to step up in the absence of 7-footer Kel’el Ware, who sat out due to a positive COVID-19 test.

Nebraska (11-2, 1-1) has its most wins before Jan. 1 in five years and is 9-1 at home, most recently beating South Carolina State 91-62 on Friday. The Cornhuskers haven’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2014, but with their start, they are in position to end that drought as long as conference play goes well.

“It’s going to be a grind,” Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg said after the South Carolina State win. “I think our guys are up for the challenge and we’re certainly ready for it.”

The Cornhuskers have played the last two games without forward Rienk Mast, who was averaging 13 points and 9.9 rebounds. He had minor knee surgery on Dec. 18 and is expected back some time in January.

The free-throw line may be where this outcome is decided, particularly how much Indiana gets there. The Hoosiers average more than 25 foul shots per game, though they only make 68 percent of them, while Nebraska has held all but two opponents to 18 or fewer attempts and 15.1 per game for the season.

Indiana has won seven straight in the series. Nebraska’s last win came at Indiana in 2019.

–Field Level Media

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