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Self inflicted wounds plague Indiana Basketball in 16-point loss to Nebraska

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Indiana point guard Xavier Johnson made his return from injury after missing seven games in the Hoosier's 86-70 road loss to Nebraska. © Indiana Athletics

Despite the return of senior guard Xavier Johnson, Indiana basketball was embarrassed to begin the New Year, losing 86-70 on the road against Nebraska.

Indiana also had Kel’el Ware back from COVID-19 but still turned in one of their worst performances of the season as they dropped to 2-1 in Big Ten play.

Self-inflicted wounds were at the center of the problem for the Hoosiers who had season-high 19 turnovers. Turnovers have been an issue all year for Indiana basketball who have averaged 12.3 per game before tonight’s game.

“I think a lot of times we were trying to create things that weren’t there,” Woodson said about the turnover issues. “They put two on the ball and that’s been pretty good for us. When teams put two on the ball we are able to pull it and get rid of the ball and that pass leads to something good. Tonight we tried to fight the two on the ball and we were throwing it away. We had some unforced turnovers that were just unacceptable, but we gotta go back and fix that because you’re not going to beat anyone in the Big Ten doing that.”

With Xavier Johnson back from injury, the hope was he would help the turnover problem, but that was not the case. Nebraska had 15 steals and was able to turn a lot of them into points.

“Don’t the turn the ball over, that would help,” Woodson said about the offensive struggles. “We had 19 turnovers with [Nebraska scoring] 27 points [off of them]. I thought that was the difference in the game.”

READ: HoosierIllustrated Live Blog: FINAL: Nebraska 86, Indiana basketball 70

Indiana had 19 turnovers — leading to 27 total points of turnovers for the Huskers. Nebraska’ 15 steals also led to a 10-1 advantage in fast break points. Indiana’s 27.1 percent turnover rate was tied for a season high.

Nebraska punished Indiana for their mistakes as the Hoosier guards struggled.

Xavier Johnson, Trey Galloway and Gabe Cupps combined for 15 points (6/16), 8 assists and 7 turnovers in the loss.

Another recurring issue for Indiana basketball has been free throw shooting. Indiana has had a ton of success getting to the free-throw line often, but their inability to convert has haunted them.

After struggling to get to the line in the early part of the game, Indiana was able to shoot 19 free throws but missed six of them. In comparison, Nebraska shot 20/26 from the line, giving them a seven-point edge at the free-throw line.

A big reason for the free-throw differential was defensive lapses and bad fouls from Indiana basketball. Indiana had multiple occurrences where a Nebraska player was fouled on a 3-point attempt.

A reason for the three-point fouls, came from the Hoosiers being late on closeouts. Nebraska generated a plethora of open threes, making 12 of their 32 attempts.

“This team is not as good as we were defensively the last two years and a lot of it is because we do have new faces, but we gotta overcome that,” Woodson said about the defensive struggles. “I gotta get them over the hump when it comes to defending and rebounding.”

Indiana’s guards were caught over-helping on drives which allowed Nebraska to find open shooters consistently. They caught Indiana ball-watching at times and they were able to make them pay.

“When I look at the stat sheet and their perimeter play, they outplayed our starting two guards,” Woodson said about his team’s guard play. “[They] were awful tonight and their two guards were really good.”

Nebraska guard Keisei Tominaga torched the Hoosiers, scoring a game-high 28 points while 9/15 from the field. Indiana threw different looks and matchups his way but it didn’t phase him as he had an answer for everything.

Tonight showcased another issue as we don’t know what version of Indiana basketball will show up each game. At their best Indiana has shown they can compete with the best teams in the country, but at their worst, they are getting run off the court.

“We’ve been competitive off and on. I just gotta get us competitive for 40 minutes,” Woodson said about the lack of consistency. “I thought the Michigan game on the road, we were solid from beginning to the end and we were able to come out of that building with a win. That’s how you’re going to have to play on the road on the Big Ten.”

Indiana basketball will have a chance to bounce back from the loss when they face Ohio State on Saturday night at Assembly Hall.

SEE ALSO: HoosierIllustrated Postgame Wrap-Up: Kyler and Drew discuss Indiana basketball’s loss against Nebraska

Make sure to follow Hoosier Illustratedpart 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.

Drew Rosenberg is staff writer for HoosierIllustrated.com and hosts 'The Talkin' Bout the Hoosiers Podcast' covering Indiana University athletics. Drew graduated from Indiana University's Sports Media program in 2024.

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