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Indiana Basketball Game Preview: Nebraska – key storylines, injury report, how to watch



Indiana basketball
Previewing Indiana basketball at Nebraska by looking at key storylines, injury reports, how to watch and other updates. (Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Indiana basketball jumps back into Big Ten play in its 124th season of competition in men’s basketball on the road against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Hoosiers comes in 2-0 in the Big Ten.

Nebraska (10-2, 1-1) has three players averaging north of 13.0 points per game in junior guard Brice Williams (13.7), junior forward Juwan Gary (13.3), and junior forward Rienk Mast (13.0). Senior guard Keisei Tominaga scores 12.7 points per game. Mast leads the team with 9.9 rebounds a night but has not played since Dec. 17 against Kansas State.

Nebraska is led by fifth-year head coach Fred Hoiberg, who is one of three coaches in the Big Ten to have played in the NBA. He joins Indiana head coach Mike Woodson and Michigan’s Juwan Howard.

Tip off is scheduled for 9:00 ET on BTN.

Below is the full preview of Indiana basketball at Nebraska.

Key Storylines

Back to the Big Ten

And just like that, we are back to Big Ten basketball the rest of the way through. Indiana basketball comes back into conference play 2-0 with wins over Maryland and Michigan.

Let’s be honest here, Indiana basketball did not have the strongest non-conference season. Yes, they beat teams they were supposed to and got to 10 wins, but as a far as a win that would boost their NCAA Tournament Resume, they have none.

The Big Ten this year is not going to be the Big Ten we have seen in the past few years where they dominates the power rankings and every game feels like a tournament resume building game. It is going to be crucial for the Hoosiers to stack up wins, especially on the road. A .500ish record in the Big Ten is not going to be enough to get you in the tournament this year.

It starts with Nebraska today for the Hoosiers. The Huskers are a much better team than years past and a team looking to make a tournament push as well. This could be a trap game if Indiana basketball lets it be.

A win here gets you to 3-0 in the Big Ten, which is a massive cushion.

Malik Reneau has arguably solidified himself as the best player for Indiana basketball

Man, how good has Malik Reneau been in the last few games? In his last two games he has totaled 59 points on 23-of-33 shooting, 18 rebounds and six assists in 64 minutes. He has also had back-to-back career performances, as well.

With his recent play, as well as his play in 13 games, I think it is time to argue that the sophomore power forward is the best player for this Indiana basketball team.

What is so nice about what Reneau is bringing to this Indiana basketball team this season is that even though he is a sophomore, he has become one of the leaders for this team and is playing with so much maturity. Mike Woodson led on guys like Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson for leadership last season and Reneau has pretty much picked up where they left off.

“I really got the motivation from Trayce and Race, seeing how they played in the whole Big Ten and seeing how they dominated. I just needed time to understand the game and go out there,” Reneau said after his 34-point performance. “Now I’m playing nice and with my pace and being able to score on either block and finish with both hands, step out and create my shot from the 3 ball, shoot the 3 ball, too.”

Is he the most important for Indiana? Maybe not, however, when he is playing like this, the Hoosiers are tough to stop. He is potentially playing his way to making an All-Big Ten team.

This Indiana team feels so close to putting it all together

This team is far from perfect, that is a fact, there are still issues to address. However, the vibe of this team and the play they have had on the floor feels like they are very, very close to finally putting it all together.

Let’s look at the weak points that this team has seemingly fixed.

Three points shooting: In the last five games, the Hoosiers are hitting 38.6 percent of their 3s and making 6.8 per game. That includes 12 3s against North Alabama — the most in a single-game under Mike Woodson.

Stagnant offense: The Hoosiers ball movement has been phenomenal and are averaging 91.5 points in the last two games.

Bench Play: Anthony Walker has become the 6th man for the Hoosiers and Kaleb Banks has started to become a consistent piece. Gabe Cupps has gotten important minutes as a starter and Payton Sparks is coming in and playing extremely hard.

Indiana basketball still needs to work on it’s free throw shooting and issues with allowing too many looks from three on defense, but those are incredibly fixable. Just have to keep competing for a full 40 minutes.

Related: Indiana Basketball: 5 key questions, other key notes facing Hoosiers as Big Ten play resumes

Series History

Indiana leads the 26-game series by a count of 19-7 and have won seven-straight matchups with Nebraska, including three straight at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

The Hoosiers have averaged 82.6 points per game during the seven-game winning streak over the Cornhuskers and 86.0 points on the road.

Trayce Jackson-Davis recorded the third triple-double in program history with his 12 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists in an 81-65 win in the lone IU game against Nebraska (Dec. 7, 2022) last season.

Watch/Listen: Talkin’ Bout The Hoosiers Episode 13 – Indiana basketball Big Ten Preview

Injury Updates


Xavier Johnson: Xavier Johnson missed the last six games due to a foot injury. The good sign however, was that Johnson was seen without his boot so his progression seems to be trending upward. In a big update, returned to full contact at practice so he should be returning sooner than later.

“Well, it’s been tough for him. I mean, you go back-to-back years where you’re not playing basketball. We went into this season expecting him to be on the floor. He’s not there,” Indiana basketball head coach Mike Woodson said last week. “I know it’s tough on him. It’s tough on us. But we got to keep marching along based on who we got in uniform until he gets back. When that is, I don’t know yet. I just don’t.”

Kel’el Ware: Ware missed his first game of the season last week due to testing positive for COVID. Status is questionable at this time if he is cleared to return.

Jakai Newton: Newton had a lower body surgical procedure done this past offseason to help fix a previous injury he sustained during high school. He is still recovering and is not expected to play for the rest of the season.

Hoosiers In The Pros: Former Indiana basketball forward OG Anunoby traded to New York Knicks

Quick Hitters

Who?: Indiana (10-3) (2-0 Big Ten) at Nebraska (11-2) (1-1 Big Ten)

When?: Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024 • 9:00 PM ET

Where?: Pinnacle Bank Arena (15,000) • Lincoln, Neb.

TV: BTN (Kevin Kugler, Shon Morris)

Radio: IU Radio Network (Don Fischer, Errek Suhr, John Herrick)

Betting Lines: Indiana basketball is listed as a 6-point underdogs via DraftKings Sportsbook

See Also: Indiana Basketball: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly from the Hoosiers non-conference schedule

Make sure to follow Hoosier Illustrated, part of the Full Ride Network, on Twitter @Indiana_FRN, Facebook and YouTube to stay up to date on all of the news, updates and coverage of Indiana University athletics. You can also listen to the Talking’ Bout the Hoosiers podcast on Spotify.

Kyler Staley is a Basketball Recruiting Analyst for Hoosier Illustrated, a comprehensive site covering news, updates and recruiting for Indiana University athletics. Kyler has been in the basketball recruiting industry since 2019 and is a credentialed media member. He has covered Indiana since 2021 while continuing to also work for Prep Hoops Indiana. He has previously worked for Rivals.