Nebraska basketball defeats Indiana, ties program record for conference wins

LINCOLN — It counts, and it beat the alternative.

Nebraska scraped the sludge off its game midway through the second half Tuesday night to go on a 10-point run to take the lead for good, then added an eight-point surge in the final four minutes to finish off Indiana 66-57.

The Huskers (21-9, 12-5) have tied the school record for most conference victories. The only other teams with 12 in 122 years of the sport were the squads from 1915-16 and 1965-66.

A fourth straight sellout crowd of 15,177 at Pinnacle Bank Arena had to wait for about 28 minutes of game time to find much to cheer about.

Nerves were a problem early, NU coach Tim Miles said, because the program is still learning how to function properly while chasing an NCAA tournament berth.

“The first half, we were really jittery,’’ he said. “We shot 15 3s and no free throws, which is not like us. At halftime, they talked about playing with confidence.

“I said, ‘Nobody’s game has changed in three weeks. What’s changed is the circumstance. You should embrace that.’ That’s what an upstart has to do. You have to win a game like this to have some confidence.’’

It also helped to have a fifth-year senior like Evan Taylor to bring off the bench and kick-start Nebraska’s two biggest surges in the game.

NU, after being down by one point at half, trailed 41-37 with 13:44 to play. But Taylor scored five points in the Huskers’ ensuing 10-0 run — he started it with a three-point play and ended it with two free throws — while also helping hold Indiana (16-13, 9-8) scoreless for seven straight possessions.

Taylor said it was time for someone to make a play.

“We were struggling offensively,’’ he said. “I just try to go out every night and do what I’ve got to do for us to win, whether that’s bring energy defensively or try to get baskets.’’

Nebraska’s 47-41 lead after that run got cut to three points at 56-53 with 4:30 to go.

But Taylor struck again with a steal and layup sandwiched between four points from guard James Palmer in an 8-0 run that gave Nebraska its first double-digit lead at 64-53 with 1:51 left. Palmer led NU with 15 points.

Taylor, in 26 minutes, had seven points, seven rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal.

“Evan was really outstanding in the second half, especially when we needed him,’’ Miles said. “That’s a huge luxury to have a senior like that coming off the bench and be able to play extended minutes in a quality game.

“He made some big-time steals, hustle plays, tips, deflections, rebounds and scored at the rim and in transition.’’

Unlike the 72-66 loss Sunday at Illinois in which the Huskers wobbled down the stretch, they took control toward the end.

“It was a good win by Nebraska,’’ Indiana coach Archie Miller said. “I thought they really finished the game — the last eight minutes — the right way. I thought we were right there for a good portion of the game.

“But 19 second shots (allowed) and 19 turnovers is just not going to get it done.’’

Miles appreciated the finishing kick Tuesday, but he wasn’t counting on it, saying: “The first half, the way we played, I wasn’t sure it was going to end like that.’’

Guard Glynn Watson, who had eight points and five assists, had a similar uneasy feeling much of the night.

“The whole game I didn’t think we were playing that well,’’ said Watson, who hit 3 of 7 shots. “But we got on that run and put them away.’’

Defense was the difference in the second half as Nebraska forced turnovers on Indiana’s first three possessions, then five more in the final five minutes. The Huskers finished with 26 points off 19 IU miscues.

“We got stops,’’ Taylor said. “In the Illinois game, we allowed them to get second shots. But tonight we got stops.’’

The victory allowed Nebraska to hold on to fourth place in the Big Ten. A win Sunday over Penn State would clinch fourth and a double-bye into the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament Feb. 28-March 4 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Nebraska celebrates after a victory against Indiana.

Indiana's Robert Johnson shoots the ball against Nebraska's Isaac Copeland.

Nebraska cheerleader Allison McElroy poses with 2-year-old Husker fan Kinley Nieveen.

Nebraska fans throw torn up newspapers in the air after the first basket.

Indiana's Juwan Morgan rebounds the ball.

Nebraska's Isaac Copeland blocks a layup from Indiana's Justin Smith.

Indiana's Juwan Morgan looks to pass.

Nebraska's Isaiah Roby dribbles past Indiana's Justin Smith.

Nebraska coach Tim Miles looks at a play sheet.

Nebraska's Jordy Tshimunga reaches to steal the ball from Indiana's Robert Johnson.

Nebraska's Jack McVeigh holds up a sign after a dunk from Isaac Copeland with the rest of the "Bench Mob."

Nebraska's Isaiah Roby looks to pass while being defended by Indiana's Justin Smith.

Nebraska's James Palmer shoots the ball against Indiana's Juwan Morgan.

Nebraska's Isaac Copeland dribbles past Indiana's Freddie McSwain Jr.

Nebraska's Isaiah Roby grabs a rebound from Indiana's Juwan Morgan.

Nebraska's Isaiah Roby blocks a shot from Indiana's Freddie McSwain Jr.

Nebraska celebrates after a victory against Indiana.

Indiana's Robert Johnson shoots the ball against Nebraska's Isaac Copeland.

Nebraska cheerleader Allison McElroy poses with 2-year-old Husker fan Kinley Nieveen.

Nebraska fans throw torn up newspapers in the air after the first basket.

Indiana's Juwan Morgan rebounds the ball.

Nebraska's Isaac Copeland blocks a layup from Indiana's Justin Smith.

Indiana's Juwan Morgan looks to pass.

Nebraska's Isaiah Roby dribbles past Indiana's Justin Smith.

Nebraska coach Tim Miles looks at a play sheet.

Nebraska's Jordy Tshimunga reaches to steal the ball from Indiana's Robert Johnson.

Nebraska's Jack McVeigh holds up a sign after a dunk from Isaac Copeland with the rest of the "Bench Mob."

Nebraska's Isaiah Roby looks to pass while being defended by Indiana's Justin Smith.

Nebraska's James Palmer shoots the ball against Indiana's Juwan Morgan.

Nebraska's Isaac Copeland dribbles past Indiana's Freddie McSwain Jr.

Nebraska's Isaiah Roby grabs a rebound from Indiana's Juwan Morgan.

Nebraska's Isaiah Roby blocks a shot from Indiana's Freddie McSwain Jr.

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