Coming off back-to-back defeats for the first time all season, Indiana coach Tom Crean is trying to keep his team cool, calm and collected.
After dropping four spots in the latest AP poll, the 11th-ranked Hoosiers look to get back on track Wednesday night when they visit scuffling Nebraska.
A bit of uncertainty suddenly surrounds Indiana (15-3, 3-3 Big Ten), which after mostly cruising through the first half of its schedule, seems to have taken a step back. Three days after suffering their first home loss 77-74 to Minnesota, the Hoosiers were handed their most lopsided defeat of the season, 80-63 at then-No. 5 Ohio State on Sunday.
Indiana, tied atop the conference in field-goal percentage (49.7) and leading the Big Ten with 80.8 points per game, couldn't get much going versus the Buckeyes. The Hoosiers trailed 35-14 at the break and never got closer than 16 the rest of the way.
"They've never been here before, this group," Crean said. "We've got some guys who have won at different levels, but they have not won as a team. There's a lot of peaks and valleys in life, let alone athletics, and there's ebbs and flows to the season. Right now we just have to make sure that we understand why we play well when we play well."
Freshman standout Cody Zeller, shooting a Big Ten-best 65.3 percent, continued his impressive play with 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting. The rest of the team, however, shot just 37.0 percent from the floor.
"I think everyone has to make sure they understand their part in these games. You have to know your role and know your job," Crean added. "You can't have 'this guy' shoot and 'this guy' pass. It's about the mental and physical aggression, and being strong with the basketball. It's all those things.
"You don't put a win on any one or two people, and you don't put a loss on one or two people. It's a team effort when you lose or win and I hope everyone understands that."
The Hoosiers have to like their chances of regrouping against a Cornhuskers (9-8, 1-5) team struggling to adjust to its new conference. Four days after defeating Penn State 70-58 for its first Big Ten win, Nebraska fell 50-45 at Wisconsin on Sunday.
Guard Bo Spencer, averaging a team-high 14.8 points, posted 13 and was the only player to reach double figures. The Cornhuskers were outrebounded 42-28 and got to the foul line just twice.
"It wasn't our lack of being aggressive," said coach Doc Sadler, whose team shoots 75.5 percent from the line but is 2-6 when attempting less than 18 free throws.
"We're just not as aggressive as we need to be to get a foul. We have to do a better job in that."
Nebraska, tied with the Nittany Lions at the bottom of the conference, is scoring a league-low 61.1 points per contest. The Cornhuskers have been outscored by an average of 22.7 points in going 0-3 versus Top 25 foes this season.
Indiana has taken seven straight and eight of nine in this all-time series, though the teams haven't met since the Hoosiers prevailed 67-50 on Dec. 30, 1982, in Indianapolis.
Wednesday marks Indiana's first visit to Lincoln since beating Nebraska 40-39 on Dec. 30, 1942.
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