If the first half belonged to Thomas Bryant, the second was Yogi Ferrell’s.
The IU senior guard scored 24 points – including 15 after the break – and added seven assists, as he helped lead IU to a 79-69 win against Nebraska.
The Hoosiers are on a seven-game winning streak and are 2-0 in Big Ten play after a win over Rutgers on Wednesday.
They have also won two Big Ten games without starting guard James Blackmon Jr., who is out indefinitely because of a knee injury.
“It’s not easy playing without a guy like James because of the scoring, like we said the other day, because you always have to account for where he’s at because that frees it up for other people,” IU Coach Tom Crean said.
Freshman forward Thomas Bryant recovered from a game at Rutgers, where he got into foul trouble early and lost playing time as a result. Bryant gave IU a lift to open the game against Nebraska — scoring twice, assisting on another and blocking a shot within the first five minutes.
“Just trusting the coaching staff and trusting my teammates,” Bryant said. “It was a hard game, but I knew if I just stayed with it I’d bounce back.
Bryant finished the first half with 10 points; he picked up where he left off in the second half, scoring seven of IU’s first nine points.
That’s when Ferrell took over, overshadowing Bryant's 19-point performance.
Ferrell knocked down a long jumper with a hand in his face. Then he hit three 3-pointers in three tries — one of which was in 6-foot-10 Nebraska forward Jake Hammond's face.
Ferrell said better second-half defense and an effective inside-out game led to the win.
“We wanted to get out and run,” he said. “When you got somebody like Thomas down low you can throw to when we need a bucket for us to win, we’re going to do that.”
The Hoosiers had just 14 turnovers Saturday, compared to 23 at Rutgers, and gave the ball away only six times in the second half.
“The difference was taking pride in the basketball,” Ferrell said.
Freshman forward O.G. Anunoby also provided a boost off the bench for IU. In the last two games, he has scored 19 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and added four steals without turning the ball over once.
The freshman duo of Anunoby and Bryant, as well as Ferrell, combined for 54 of IU’s 79 points against Nebraska on an impressive 20-of-27 shooting.
The Hoosiers return to Assembly Hall on Tuesday to face Wisconsin. Although the have one of the easier schedules in the conference, Ferrell said they need to stay on top of each game.
“Anything can happen in the Big Ten,” he said. “We’ve seen it in years past.”
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