BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - When the game got tight in the first half, Christian Watford and the Indiana Hoosiers turned up their defensive pressure. At the same time, offensively-challenged Nebraska just couldn't keep up.
Indiana took the lead for good midway through the first half and opened its second straight week at No. 1 in the Associated Press Top 25 with a second straight win, 76-47 over the Cornhuskers.
The Hoosiers had a six-week run atop the poll at the start of the season, giving Indiana the sixth-most weeks at No. 1 since the ratings began in 1949. Coming off an 81-68 victory at then-No. 10 Ohio State on Sunday, which followed a Thursday defeat at Illinois, the Hoosiers are trying to break a string of five consecutive weeks in which the No. 1 team has lost. They face archrival Purdue at Assembly Hall on Saturday.
"To get to where we want to get, we need to be able to win at multiple styles of basketball," said Watford, who grabbed 11 rebounds and helped force 15 Nebraska turnovers while playing long stretches out of position at center.
Preseason All-American Cody Zeller scored 16 points Wednesday, including 13 in the second half. Watford and Victor Oladipo bolstered a balanced attack with 13 each, while Will Sheehey added nine. The Hoosiers (22-3, 10-2 Big Ten) have won 22 of 23 at home and are tied with Michigan State atop the conference standings.
"We kept waiting for the game to go our way," Indiana coach Tom Crean said. "Sometimes you have to force the tempo defensively. We're not trying to set records. We're trying to win a national championship."
Indiana earned its first victory over the Cornhuskers since they joined the conference three years ago by holding them to 36 percent shooting. None of the Hoosiers' starters played more than 30 minutes, and Zeller was on the court just 18 minutes thanks to foul trouble and the lopsided score.
The reserves helped to create activity on defense, especially in smaller lineups without Zeller to protect the rim.
"Everybody that played impacted the game," Crean said. "To hold (Ray) Gallegos to no points in the first half was really important. Momentum is up for grabs at halftime. We grabbed it and didn't let it go. Our guys kept creating it from defense."
Dylan Talley led Nebraska (12-13, 3-9) with 16 points, and none of his teammates topped eight points.
The Cornhuskers have lost nine of 12. Entering the night next-to-last in the Big Ten in field-goal percentage (.412), Nebraska struggled mightily in its first visit to Bloomington since 1974.
"It's a very cool environment," first-year Cornhuskers coach Tim Miles said. "There are great fans. It brought back memories of being a kid watching Bob Knight games on CBS. They are as good a team as I've seen in a long, long time."
Indiana led 27-18 at halftime despite receiving only three points from Zeller. Talley and Shavon Shields each scored four early points as Nebraska jumped out to a 10-6 advantage, its largest of the half.
Nebraska last led 14-13 before Kevin Ferrell and Oladipo hit back-to-back 3-pointers for a 19-14 Indiana lead with 7:21 left in the half.
Oladipo had five of his seven first-half points in the final 13 minutes before the break to jumpstart the Hoosiers' struggling offense. Watford added six first-half points.
The Cornhuskers went 7-of-17 from the field before halftime, while Indiana shot 6-for-19 and matched its worst point total in a half this season. The Hoosiers scored nine points off 10 Nebraska turnovers before intermission.
"Our offense was becoming their offense," center Brandon Ubel said. "We've got to be smarter. We'd start to get on a run and then turn the ball over two or three times in a row."
Indiana started the second half on a 7-0 run and was comfortably ahead the rest of the way, leading by as many as 31.
NOTES: Nebraska is winless in seven games against ranked opponents this season. ... The Cornhuskers last faced a No. 1 team on Feb. 6, 2010, losing 75-64 at Kansas. ... The Hoosiers have shot at least 49 percent from the field in six of their first 12 conference games. They managed a 45.8 success rate Wednesday. ... Indiana is in its 27th consecutive week as a ranked team, its longest stretch since it appeared in the polls 71 straight weeks from 1989-1994.