BLOOMINGTON — Walter Pitchford and Shavon Shields each scored 17 points Wednesday, and Nebraska’s defense held off Indiana’s second-half rally for a 70-60 victory.
The Cornhuskers (18-11, 10-7 Big Ten) have won seven of eight and this one strengthened their resume for the NCAA’s selection committee. It’s also the first time in six tries Nebraska has won in Bloomington.
Indiana (17-13, 7-10) was led by Troy Williams with 18 points and Will Sheehey with 13. But it wasn’t enough to avoid a second straight Senior Night loss. Noah Vonleh missed his second straight game with inflammation in his left foot.
The Hoosiers never led, but they had chances after rallying to tie the score at 52 with 10:06 left.
They missed all five shots that would have given them the lead. Nebraska capitalized with a 7-3 run that gave it a 59-55 lead and made it hold up.
Nebraska now has 10 conference wins and two season sweeps over league rivals for the first time since 1998-99. The victory also assures the Cornhuskers of finishing in the top five in the league standings.
Indiana, meanwhile, struggled to make up for Vonleh’s absence, especially early. Without the league’s No. 1 rebounder, the Hoosiers shot just 36.7 percent from the field, were 5 of 21 on 3-pointers and had only three offensive rebounds in the first half.
The Cornhuskers, who are chasing their first NCAA tourney bid in 16 years, wasted no time in taking advantage.
Pitchford scored the first nine Nebraska points, giving them a 9-3 lead. The Cornhuskers then used a 6-0 spurt to make it 15-7 and they led by as much as 27-16 with 5:09 to go. Indiana got within 30-25 when Troy Williams hit a rare 3-pointer with 1:48 left.
But Nebraska closed out the half by scoring four of the final five points to make it 34-26.
Indiana continued chasing the Cornhuskers throughout the second half.
After quickly cutting the deficit to 34-29 and watching Nebraska answer with a 10-5 flurry to make it 46-35, the Hoosiers shooters finally warmed up.
Sheehey and Ferrell hit consecutive 3s, Devin Davis completed a three-point play, Ferrell scored on a driving layup and Sheehey knocked down an open 3 to make it 52-52 with 10:06 left in the game.
Shields broke the tie by making 1 of 2 free throws to start the 7-3 run and the Cornhuskers closed it out by making eight free throws in the final minute.