Nebraska finished the job.
Firing out of the gate with their best start of the season, and playing some of their best defense of the year, the Husker men led from tip to finish in a 66-51 win against No. 25 Indiana on Monday at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana.
"It wasn't overjubilant; there wasn't a Gatorade bath or anything crazy. It was just a very happy, almost relieved team. I think a more confident team too," Nebraska coach Tim Miles said on his postgame show on the Husker Sports Radio Network. "It's a hell of a win. I'm just really happy for the guys, and it gives us a shot of confidence."
Nebraska was stung in a two-point loss at Maryland, didn't play well at Iowa and lacked its customary fire in a home win against Penn State last week.
But after a 1-3 start to conference play, Nebraska (13-4, 3-3 Big Ten) is back to .500 in the league and has Michigan State coming to town Thursday as the Huskers put their 20-game home winning streak on the line.
"We don't stink," Miles said. "We can, but it's going to happen over 32, 33 games.
"I think they were worried, just worried like, 'Oh, no, what's going on?' I think they maybe hear all this stuff about the Big Ten (and) I think it was more of a realization that, 'Man, this is going to be a grind. I hope we can do it.' And now to come out and prove you can do it, in a tough environment like this ..."
NU started the game on a 9-0 run, led by 18 points midway through the first half, survived a 5 1/2-minute scoreless spell to end the first 20 minutes, then squeezed the life out of Indiana's offense in the second half.
After Indiana (12-5, 3-3) whittled a nine-point halftime deficit to three on Devonte Green's three-pointer with 16:31 to play, Nebraska responded with a layup from Tanner Borchardt and back-to-back three-pointers by Glynn Watson to push its advantage back to 11.
Indiana got no closer than nine points the rest of the way, and the Huskers led by double digits for the final 13 minutes.
The loss was the Hoosiers' first home defeat this season. Indiana's 51 points were a season low, 12 points less than its previous low. That 63-point total came against Michigan, which has one of the best defenses in the nation.
Two seasons after he scored 26 points against the Hoosiers in Assembly Hall, Watson scored 12 of his 15 points in the second half to lead the Huskers. He added five rebounds and four assists.
James Palmer threatened for a while to post Nebraska's first-ever triple-double before finishing with 11 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Isaac Copeland had 14 points and eight boards, and Thomas Allen added 10 points.
Isaiah Roby added nine points and four rebounds, and the Huskers got a brave effort from Borchardt when Roby and Copeland got into foul trouble.
Borchardt, who didn't participate in Nebraska's morning shootaround while spending part of the day in a Bloomington dentist office, came off the bench to finish with seven points, five rebounds, a steal and a bloody nose after taking a shot from Indiana's Juwan Morgan. The point total was one off a career high for Borchardt, who will have a root canal after returning to Lincoln.
Superb freshman Romeo Langford led Indiana with 18 points, but did so on 5-for-14 shooting. Morgan added 17 points and eight rebounds. No other Hoosier scored more than five points.
"I thought it was a real shot of confidence. You come in here, tough environment, find a way to win against a high-quality, ranked opponent," Miles said. "Maybe the pundits won't be crying that we need all these other teams to play good now.
"They can just realize we're going to be a really good team."