I give Nebraska a TON of credit for bouncing back in the second half. Let's compare for a second:
First half - season low 19 points on just 35% shooting, and only ONE free throw attempted (it was converted). And while we consider it a different category on these report cards, the "Ball Handling" (that's what she said) was pitiful. 11 turnovers completely let this one get away early and led to both of the banked three's that made the fans at "The Bank" quite disgusted.
Second half - 41 points on 52% from the field, and 13-18 from the line (74%). That's an additional SEVENTEEN free throws and yes, while 6-8 were foul-a-thon shots at the end, it was still a legitimate ten. That's a HUGE difference.
So what did NU do differently?
They started to get the ball to the middle of the defense more consistently and hit some three's to boost the crowd. Then, they attacked the basket off of that threat and the energy from the building.
Nebraska just looked mentally much more into it, also. You have to wonder if there was a "hangover" from the Biggs situation in the first 20 minutes.
Our Player of the Game (should we even do it anymore - he wins every night?!?) was Terran Petteway, who scored the softest 18 points you'll ever hear on 7-10 from the floor! And as always, they were when it counted, from the nice layup to cut an Indiana deficit from 4 to 2 (after NU had come back to tie) to the "dagger" three created off of dribble penetration in the final two minutes.
Petteway = STUD.
Nebraska's defense was consistently solid all night, outside of five minutes in the first half (after the banked three's).
You can't do this but heck, take those two horrible missed three's off the board, and IU doesn't even crack 50!
NU held the Hoosiers to 55 points on 45% shooting and helped force 19 turnovers.
The defensive intensity was AWESOME and obviously, the crowd helped a lot. Can you imagine if NU could have played even 50% that hard against PSU? They would have blown them out of the building.
For a second straight game, NU generated some offense off of its defense, as the seven steals were key in helping NU score 19 points off of turnovers!
The zone, once again, was great. I never thought I'd finally see an NU team who could play it competently.
This was one of the few disappointing rebounding efforts of the season, as the Hoosiers out boarded NU by a wide margin (31-22 & 10-5).
No Husker had more than Leslee Smith's five boards and Indiana had 11 second chance points.
So again, take out the two banked three's AND a few offensive rebounds and well... Indiana aint crackin' 45.
BALL HANDLING: D+
The first half was just AWFUL - 11 turnovers, many unforced, and many completely embarrassing.
The second half was GREAT - 3 turnovers, an offense that actually flowed and 41 points on the board.
I'll talk more about this under "Coaching" but nice to see Nathan Hawkins both make a three AND run the point for five minutes. We "stole" some key minutes that way when Tai Webster was in foul trouble and if teams continue to completely play off of Benny Parker (which they will unless he can start hitting shots), we are going to need much more of Hawkins.
Coach Miles saw his team sleep walk through the first half and forget how to take care of the basketball. They also had a five minute stretch of bad defense off of bad offense.
In the second? The zone and defensive adjustments pay HUGE dividends for NU, leading to some easy baskets and getting the crowd involved.
NU all of a sudden looked alive on the offensive end and figured out the junk defenses the Hoosiers ran.
And perhaps the savviest move of this entire game looked stupid at the time it occurred but WORKED. And that was the aforementioned Nate Hawkins sighting.
When he first came in, I said "What the hell are you doing? Hawkins?"
Then I realized Coach Miles knew what I knew - that Benny Parker couldn't run the offense in this game the way IU was junking us when he was on the floor.
With Webster in foul trouble, Miles showed something we (and Indiana) have never seen - Hawkins running the point.
So earlier this year, when Hawkins looked completely lost on the floor, he was probably playing out of position (the 3/4) as many on here pointed out.
But tonight, he looked completely comfortable and natural in the 1/2 slots that he played. He hit a key three, ran the offense good enough and did a nice job at the top of the zone. It was a ballsy move that paid off. I'm sure Indiana didn't have him in the game plan or know a single thing about him, either.
This was a completely savvy decision by Miles that was a GREAT in game adjustment. To me, perhaps one of the biggest "feather in the hats" he has pulled this year.
One other thing to note about our coach - he is 10-2 in games decided by five points or less in the last two seasons.
Think about that - 10-2 in games decided by five or less.
Good coaches win close games.
OVERALL GRADE: B
As we so often see with young teams, it's a "tale of two halves." Look that term up in the dictionary and this game will show up.
To me, this might be the most impressive win of the season, just because of the fashion in which it was earned (overcoming a 16 point deficit - the second biggest Miles has overcome at NU, next to the 19 points at Iowa last year).
We are seeing before our eyes, NU improving each game and competitive in each game.
We are seeing a bonafide First Team All-Big 10 Caliber player in Petteway who (not to put the cart before the horse) might get good enough where "NBA early talk" could happen at the end of next season. We haven't had that talk in these parts since Bill Clinton was in office.
Make no mistake - WINNING THREE OF FOUR IS HUGE.
A. We are right back in the NIT hunt.
B. The local fans are PUMPED and full of MOMENTUM.
C. Recruits are noticing. Believe me.
One bold prediction - with no game until Wednesday, we have TWO official visits locked down (maybe THREE) with Miles and staff having momentum and plenty of time to recruit over the next few days.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: TERRAN PETTEWAY
2013-2014 PLAYER OF THE GAME RESULTS:
TERRAN PETTEWAY - 11
TAI WEBSTER - 2
WALTER PITCHFORD - 2
LESLEE SMITH - 2
SHAVON SHIELDS - 2
DEVERELL BIGGS - 1