GAME NOTES: With the end of the regular season now in sight, the Indiana Hoosiers will be trying to extend a two-game win streak and improve their record heading into the conference tournament. They'll start by taking on the Nebraska Cornhuskers in a Big Ten Conference bout at Assembly Hall.
Nebraska is coming off a 54-47 win over Northwestern, and holds a 9-7 record in the Big Ten with two regular season games remaining. The Huskers have won six of their last seven games overall, and are riding a hot streak heading into Bloomington.
Indiana's two most recent victories have come against Top 25 competition. The Hoosiers defeated No. 20 Iowa, 93-86, on Thursday, and took down No. 22 Ohio State, 72-64, in their most recent outing on Sunday. The Hoosiers have won three of their last four, and will try to even a 7-9 conference record by season's end.
Indiana has the best of Nebraska in the all-time series, 9-3. But it was the Cornhuskers who had the last laugh after they defeated the Hoosiers, 60-55, in Lincoln back on Jan. 30.
The Nebraska offense turned in a solid performance this past Saturday when the team took on Northwestern, but it was, and has been for quite some time now, the defense that should receive most of the credit. The Cornhuskers held the Wildcats to just 33.3 percent shooting from the floor in the game, and only allowed the Northwestern squad to net just 47 points in the game. Shavon Shields turned in a performance worth noting, notching a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds for Nebraska. Terran Petteway added 10 points with two blocked shots, and Walter Pitchford chipped in 10 of his own with nine boards.
Petteway has received quite a bit of attention from a national audience this season, and deservedly so. The guard averages 17.9 ppg on 43.3 percent shooting. His 22 blocked shots is a team best, and his 24 steals rank third on the Huskers. Shields has turned in a solid season as well, netting 12.1 ppg with a team-best 5.8 rpg average to lead the team. The Huskers are averaging just 66.5 ppg, but the scoring defense, which ranks fifth in the conference, allows just 64.7 ppg to its opponents.
Speaking of defense, Indiana dominated an Ohio State team ranked 22nd in the nation and didn't allow the Buckeyes to hit a single 3-point shot in the contest. The Buckeyes finished 0-of-11 from 3-point range, and shot 42.4 percent from the floor in the loss. Top freshman Noah Vonleh missed the contest with a foot injury, so Yogi Ferrell (20 points, four assists) and Will Sheehey (19 points, six rebounds, four steals) led the team on the offensive end.
Ferrell, the sophomore point guard, leads the Hoosiers in scoring this season with a 17.7 ppg average, netting 42.2 percent of his field goal tries and 42 percent form 3-point distance. His 109 assists on the year is more than double Troy Williams' second-place 50 assists. Vonleh, who is questionable to play against Nebraska with the foot inflammation, averages 11.6 ppg with a team- leading 9.1 rpg mark and adds 37 blocked shots to his resume. Sheehey rounds out the Hoosiers' double-digit scorers with an 11.1 ppg average.
Both teams are hot heading into the final two matchups of the regular season, and both teams have defended their home courts admirably. Indiana, having upset two Top 25 opponents in its last two outings, will have a tough time scoring against this Nebraska defense, especially if Vonleh sits again. But in the end, the Hoosiers will find a way to get it done and register another home victory.
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