It doesn’t seem real, that a power conference tournament game could be overshadowed, but that’s what happened Wednesday night.
The 14-seed Huskers (7-25, 2-18 Big Ten) took on the 11-seed Hoosiers (20-12, 9-11 Big Ten) while the social media world was filled with more news of the spreading Coronavirus strain COVID-19.
Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg told the Big Ten Network before the game that he wasn’t feeling well but that he was pushing through. According to a statement from Nebraska Athletics, Hoiberg was checked by medical personnel before the game but became ill as the game progress and left the bench late in the second half. He was transported to Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis where he was diagnosed with “influenza A (common cold).” He has since been released and returned to the team hotel.
Following the game, while Hoiberg was at the hospital, the Nebraska men’s basketball team was quarantined in the locker room. After the news of the diagnoses was returned, the team was allowed to leave.
Just before the game, the Big Ten Conference announced that the rest of the tournament would be played without fans, saying just teams and family members could attend. Other major conferences made the same announcements throughout the night after the NCAA earlier in the day decided on that same policy for the upcoming men’s and women’s NCAA Tournaments.
During the game, announcements came out about the suspension of the NBA season after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for Coronavirus. Also during the game, actor Tom Hanks said on Twitter that he and his wife tested positive as well.
— Tom Hanks (@tomhanks) March 12, 2020
On the court, Nebraska went blow for blow with the Hoosiers early. Using a 15-3 run, the Huskers led 31-26 at the 4:37 mark. The legs of a seven-man rotation though began to slip.
The Huskers made just one of their final 14 shots, with none in that final 4:47. Indiana closed the half on a 16-1 run to lead 43-34 going into the locker room.
Out of the break, the Hoosiers continued to pour it on, starting with a 15-4 run to go up by 20 points. Nebraska managed an 11-0 run then closed the deficit to just nine on a Kevin Cross three-pointer, but Inidana closed the game on a 17-2 run to win 89-64 and end the season for Nebraska.
The Huskers were without Cam Mack and Dachon Burke Jr. who were suspended indefinitely last weekend. To add emergency depth, Hoiberg dipped into the football team and took Noah Vedral and Brant Banks on the trip. Vedral and Banks both got into the game in the final minutes but were unable to score.
Indiana shot 41-percent from the floor, including 9-of-22 from deep. Five Hoosiers scored in double figures, all between 11 and 13 points.
Nebraska shot just 27-percent on the game, making 8-of-30 from deep. The Huskers shot 14-of-20 from the free throw line.
Cross led all scorers with a career-high 23 points that included four three-pointers and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds. Haanif Cheatham scored 17 points while Jervay Green added 15 points and eight rebounds.
Nebraska ends the season on a 17 game losing streak.