Indianapolis — Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg left Wednesday night’s 89-64 loss to Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament due to an illness.
Hoiberg was in visible discomfort on the Cornhuskers’ bench. Doc Sadler took over after Hoiberg left the floor near the end of the loss.
Hoiberg was taken to a nearby hospital and diagnosed with the common flu and released, according to his son, Michigan State player Jack Hoiberg, and later confirmed by Nebraska. Nebraska players were quarantined at Bankers Life Fieldhouse until Hoiberg was released.
The Big Ten is closing the rest of the tournament to fans over fears of exposure to the coronavirus.
The 11th-seeded Hoosiers (20-12) will play sixth-seeded Penn State (21-10) in the second round Thursday night. Indiana split its two meetings with the Nittany Lions.
“I would say it would be a heck of an environment in here, but it’s going to be more like a closed scrimmage, which is unfortunate,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said. “We’ll be ready to go. Penn State has had a heck of a season and heck of a team so we got a heck of a challenge.”
Miller chose to send his players back to the hotel instead of to interview room after hearing the news about the NBA suspending its season over concerns about the spread of coronavirus.
“I think, once you start getting the news that we got after the game, I think right now for our players, it’s let’s get cleaned up, let’s get out of here, and let’s get back to the hotel where we can keep our group kind of tight and move forward with tomorrow,” he said. “They’re not going to have a whole lot of answers about what’s going on anyway.”
Indiana got pushed a bit by Nebraska, but the Hoosiers’ depth was too much for the Cornhuskers.
“They made their runs during the (second) half, got us a little bit stationary at times, but I thought overall our guys responded and were able to finish the game in a big way,” Miller said. “And I’m proud of our depth. I thought we had a lot of guys. We were committed to playing a lot of guys tonight, and we had a lot of guys play valuable minutes and get some things done.”
Indiana freshman Trayce Jackson-Davis had a double double of 11 points and career-high 17 rebounds. Armaan Franklin led the Hoosiers with 13 points. Justin Smith and Devonte Green each scored 12 and Al Durham added 11.
Kevin Cross led Nebraska (7-25) with 23 points. Haanif Cheatham had 17, and Jervay Green finished with 15.
Indiana shot 53 percent while Nebraska shot 30 percent.
Indiana expanded its lead to 58-38 with 15:48 to go.
“Early on, I didn’t think we were ready, and then as the half sort of closed, we had a big run, which was a real key part of the game,” Miller said. “Being able to go into halftime with a lead was important, and then we started the second half, I thought, really well as well to build a cushion.”
More Big Ten
►Minnesota 74, Northwestern 57: Daniel Oturu and Marcus Carr played their typical roles for Minnesota.
And if it was their final act in front of a big crowd this season, they gave the fans a performance to remember.
Oturu scored 24 points, Carr added 14 and the Golden Gophers used a dominant second half to pull away.
“It was the mentality we came with out of halftime,” Carr said. “We were not playing how we wanted, taking good looks and shooting with confidence.”
Fans weren’t happy either after enduring an ugly first half and then learning just before halftime league officials had reversed course on who would be allowed into Bankers Life Fieldhouse this week.
Initially, the Big Ten decided to stick to the script. But hours after the NCAA announced it would prohibit most fans from watching it’s tournament games because of public health concerns, conference officials revised their stance, too.
An official announcement came on the public address system just as the teams started warming up for the second half and drew a crescendo of boos. Even after learning the Big Ten would refund ticket-holders for all five days of the tourney, some fans still panned the move.
“We were going to be here for the whole tournament,” said Tim White, a 44-year-old fan who flew from Baltimore to Indianapolis and won’t even get to see his beloved Terrapins suit up. “Now it’s trying to find a flight home, go back to hotel and cancel, see if they let us cancel the rest of it.”
But rather than allow all that become a distraction, the Gophers (15-16) focused on the task at hand.
Oturu and Carr helped the 12th-seeded Golden Gophers open the second half on a 7-2 run and break away from a 36-36 tie with a 25-7 spurt. Eventually, they extended the lead to as much as 22 and charged to their second straight win.
“I don’t know what it is but against us, Oturu becomes like Klay Thompson,” Wildcats coach Chris Collins said. “He was 3 of 5 on 3s the last time and 2 of 2 tonight.”
The 13th-seeded Wildcats (8-23) were led by Pete Nance with 15 points but never recovered after falling into a double-digit deficit. Northwestern closed out the season with 14 losses in 16 games.
Minnesota, meanwhile, must now prepare to take the stage Thursday in front of dozens rather than thousands.
“Certainly, with no fans, it will be a different atmosphere, kind of like a closed scrimmage but obviously more on the line,” Payton Willis said after scoring 12 points. “ We’ll be coming out and competing just like there’s fans out there and trying to get the ‘W’ tomorrow.“
►Eastern Michigan 64, Ball State 63: At Cleveland, Areana Combs scored 23, including a shot with 4:42 left in the fourth quarter for Eastern (16-15), which was the difference in a game in which no points were scored in the final 2:49. The tournament is closed to the general public.
Courtnie Lewis had 20 and Jenna Annecchiarico 11 for Eastern, which will play in the MAC semifinals on Friday. Ball State finished 21-10.
►Toledo 78, Central Michigan 71: Kyra Bussell scored 23 and Micaela Kelly 21 for Central (23-7), which was the No. 1 seed in the MAC touranment.
Tanaya Beacham scored 14 and Nakiah Black 13 for Toledo (14-17), which used 20-5 advantage in third quarter to pull away.
►Ohio 84, Western Michigan 75: Leighah-Amori Wool scored 20 and Jordan Walker 15 for Western (18-13). Ohio is 19-11.