Nebraska Cornhuskers (5-3) vs Indiana Hoosiers (6-1)
Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021 – 11 a.m. CT
Radio: Husker Sports Network
Internet: FOX Sports App
1. Contain TJD
Nebraska’s first conference game of the season will be against one of the best overall players the Big Ten has to offer in Indiana forward Trayce Jackson-Davis.
A third-team All-American and first-team all-league selection by the media, the 6-foot-9, 245-pound junior was the only high-major player in the country to average over 19 points and nine rebounds last season.
He’s continued that production and then some so far this year, ranking second in the Big Ten in scoring (22.0 ppg), third in rebounding (8.7 rpg), and first in blocked shots (3.7 bpg).
Indiana doesn’t shoot many 3-pointers, ranking 10th in the conference with 141 attempts, yet they are third in the Big Ten in scoring at 82.1 ppg.
That means IU is going to make it point to get the ball into the paint as much as possible, and Jackson-Davis is going to be the primary option every time down court.
2. Be smart at the rim
Nebraska had really struggled with getting its shots blocked over head coach Fred Hoiberg’s first two seasons. But the Huskers had done a much better job in that regard through the first seven games of 2021-22.
Then North Carolina State swatted 11 NU shots on Wednesday night, including eight Ebenezer Dowuona alone.
NU has had the luxury of facing some relatively small front courts for most of the year, but it really struggled to get shots off at the rim against the best rim protection it’s seen yet.
How well Nebraska finishes in the paint will go a long way in determining today’s outcome, as it now faces the best shot blocker in the Big Ten in Jackson-Davis.
3. Get ready to battle
Roughly 60 hours before Nebraska tips off against Indiana, it was walking off the PNC Arena court in Raleigh having just played 60 minutes and four overtimes of back-and-forth basketball.
The physical drain is one aspect. Hoiberg said the Huskers would focus mostly on mental preparation on Thursday and Friday and do their best to allow the players time to recover from a grueling loss to NC State.
Four players saw at least 43 minutes in that game, led by 58 for Bryce McGowens and 54 for Alonzo Verge Jr.
The other issue is how quickly NU can recover from an emotionally exhausting defeat that saw it come up short time and again in the final seconds.
Nebraska battled from start to finish, but now it needs to find a way to bring the same level of fight against on the road against an Indiana team that won’t make anything easy.
Indiana (-11.5) 82, Nebraska 70
Robin’s season record: 6-2
vs. the spread: 5-3