INDIANAPOLIS — When Nebraska guard Thorir Thorbjarnarson made his way toward the basket, freshman guard Armaan Franklin planted his feet and waited.
He allowed Thorbjarnarson to run straight into him. Franklin picked up his third charge of the night, and IU head coach Archie Miller clapped.
“Atta boy, Armaan,” Miller said.
IU men’s basketball led by 16 points with 3:53 remaining at that point. IU went on to defeat Nebraska 89-64 Wednesday night in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.
On the following possession, Franklin found junior guard Al Durham cutting to the basket to pick up another assist. Franklin made his third 3-pointer of the night 33 seconds later. He finished the game with 13 points, eight rebounds and three assists.
“I'm proud of Armaan,” Miller said. “Here the last three or four weeks, his role really hasn't diminished in our eyes, but his minutes have gone down. He stays with it.”
The first time IU played in Bankers Life Fieldhouse this season, Dec. 21, Franklin had a major part in the team’s victory over the University of Notre Dame. He scored a season-high 17 points and made the game-winning 3-pointer with 15 seconds left.
The Indianapolis native played 25 minutes Wednesday night and led the team with a plus-minus rating of 32. It was the first time he spent more than nine minutes on the court in a game since Feb. 8 against Purdue.
This came after Miller mentioned Monday on his radio show that senior guard Devonte Green didn’t practice that day because of his ankle. Green still played 19 minutes, but Franklin had the second-most minutes for a guard Wednesday, only behind Durham.
“Armaan really cares, and lo and behold tonight, when he got his number called, he was able to play 25 good minutes,” Miller said.
Franklin was originally supposed to speak after the game, but Miller wanted to move his players out of the arena and to the hotel as quickly as possible due to the threat of the coronavirus.
Nebraska head coach Fred Hoiberg told Miller he didn’t know if he would finish the game, and he left with four minutes remaining because he wasn’t feeling well. Hoiberg was taken to the hospital following the game but was diagnosed with the flu and returned to the team hotel. IU is still scheduled to play No. 6 Penn State on Thursday night.
This will mark the first game this season IU will play without fans in the stands after it was announced Wednesday that fans would no longer be allowed to attend Big Ten Tournament games starting Thursday.
“I think, once you start getting the news that we got after the game, right now for our players, it’s let get out of here,” Miller said. “Let’s get back to the hotel where we can keep our group kind of tight and move forward with tomorrow.”
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