LINCOLN — Nebraska led by as many as nine, trailed by as many as 19, but still had a shot at the end against a feisty Indiana team.
But the Huskers couldn’t close the gap, even during an 8 minute Indiana scoring drought, and fell 82-74 at home.
Cam Mack scored 20 with 9 assists, 17 of those points coming in the first half. Nebraska made 9 3-pointers but shot 40% from the floor. Indiana made 8 3s, and were 23 of 35 on shots inside the arc, scoring 40 points in the paint.
Joey Brunk scored 15 points. Trayce Jackson-Davis added 15 points and 10 rebounds.
NU fell behind 14-12 in the opening 8 minutes, until the Huskers rattled off 11 points in 81 seconds. Thorbjarnarson made a corner triple, then Cheatham hit from the wing, then Cross fired from top of the key and Archie Miller had to call a timeout, his team in a blink down 23-14.
After two Charlie Easley free throws, the Huskers were up eight.
Indiana finally punched back with a 12-2 run to take its first lead since the early minutes at 32-30, making four straight shots, two of them 3s. Nebraska missed six of seven shots in that stretch, mostly from inside. The Huskers missed 10 layups in the first 20 minutes, and were just 7 of 18 inside the arc.
They did make 6 of 13 3s.
Before the break, Indiana had another run, this one to take a 42-34 after a Jackson-Davis offensive rebound and score. The freshman Jackson-Davis had 8 points and 8 rebounds in the first.
NU saved face in the final four minutes, closing the gap to 46-41 after two Mack 3-pointers.
But the Hoosiers came right out, attacked the paint and went up 11 in a hurry. Nebraska missed four straight to start the half while Joey Brunk took two nearly-unguarded jumpers that forced groans and a Hoiberg timeout.
It’d end up a 16-2 run to start the half for Indiana. It was 32-32 with 5:41 left in the first half, then Indiana out-scored NU 30-11 over the next 10 game minutes to take the 19 point lead. In that span, the Hoosiers made 15 of 17 shots, all but two of those 3s.
The lead grew to as many as 68-49 until Charlie Easley two 3s in the span of a minute. Cheatham scored with a foul to cut into it 14 before the under 12 timeout.
Jervay Green scored on a fast break for 70-58.
The Husker defense locked in, forced five straight IU misses and a one-handed lay in from Thorbjarnarson pushed it to 70-60 after an ugly 3 minutes of ball Nebraska won, coming out the other end only down eight after two Mack free throws.
Indiana didn’t make a shot for more than 8 minutes, not just opening the door for Nebraska to walk through, but taking the door off its hinges and putting the door through a wood chipper.
But Nebraska couldn’t capitalize. Mack threw two balls out of bounds, Easley air balled a three, Mack was called for a hook on a drive to the bucket. The Huskers turned the ball over 5 times in three minutes and couldn’t make a dent.
Joey Brunk got away with a travel, but a foul was called on Easley down low. He missed the front end of a 1-and-1, but Jackson-Davis got the board and scored to boos of the crowd.
The PA announcer asked fans not to throw things onto the court with NU down 76-67 with 1:44 left.
A turnover forced by Easley and quick score by Thorbajranrson pulled the Huskers to 78-72 with less than 90 seconds left in a final chance.
Burke passed up an open 3, then airballed a step back, which then took for a bucket on the other end. A quick Thorbajrnarson score again made it a 6-point game at 80-74.
Easley forced another turnover with 36 seconds left, giving NU the ball below the basket, bringing PBA to a nervous stand.
Mack missed a guarded 3-pointer. Jackson-Davis made two free throws, and that closed it out.
» Get the full story later tonight on Omaha.com or in tomorrow's World-Herald.
Meet the 2019-20 Nebraska men's basketball team