INDIANAPOLIS — Nebraska basketball coach Fred Hoiberg was taken a local Indianapolis hospital emergency room Wednesday night after leaving the Husker bench minutes before the end of a 89-64 loss to Indiana at the Big Ten Tournament.
After the game ended — with Hoiberg assistant and former NU head coach Doc Sadler in charge — the Huskers then did not conduct a postgame press conference and remained quarantined in their locker room, as Hoiberg, who was described as being sick by the Big Ten Network announcing crew, was not available for comment. Around midnight in Indianapolis, the team, having finished a 7-25 season, was allowed to slowly leave the locker room, board a bus, and leave the arena, according to arena security.
During the game, BTN cameras captured Hoiberg visibly exhausted on the sidelines, his head in his hands, as another assistant, Armon Gates, appeared to rub hand sanitizer on his hands.
Security officials on hand at Bankers Life Fieldhouse blocked off a hallway for a “sick coach,” according to The World-Herald. Later that hallway was cleared as Husker players walked to their locker room.
According to a NU source, the Husker hoops team is now quarantined in a Bankers Life Fieldhouse locker room. Two of the team members, Noah Vedral and Brant Banks, play for the Husker football team and just joined the basketball squad this week.
Concerns about evident signs of illness — of any kind — are heightened due to a potential outbreak of the coronavirus. The coronavirus has prompted many leagues to hold their conference tournaments without fans — starting tomorrow — and suspended the NBA season Wednesday night after Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus.
Word of Hoiberg’s illness, plus video of him struggling on the sidelines, went viral on Twitter Wednesday night.
Early in the game through the first 16 minutes, Nebraska did everything an underdog should.
It punched first. It punched hard. It smiled and winked at David while it slung rocks, a confidence found from nothing oozing everywhere, spilling onto the hardwood.
But the problem was, 16 minutes isn’t enough to upset a traditional powerhouse with just seven scholarship basketball players and two football walk-ons in uniform. The other 24 minutes showed the gaping flaws that have downed the Huskers all year.
After taking a six point lead in those first 16 minutes, Indiana took over and ran away with it, ending Nebraska’s worst season in decades.
Kevin Cross scored a career-high 23 points with four 3-pointers. Haanif Cheatham finished with 17 and five rebounds. The Huskers shot just 32% in its final game, were blocked 10 times and out-scored in the paint 34-16.
In front of thousands of Indiana fans — the final game played in front of Big Ten fans for the year in lieu of the coronavirus — the Hoosiers shot 53% from the floor. They made six 3-pointers and got 25 points from the bench. Trayce Jackson-Davis scored a team-high 12.
Nebraska went down 21 in the second half, cut that to nine, but couldn’t break through for its 17th straight loss.
Cheatham hit a one-dribble jumper in front of the IU bench to tie the game at 16, then gave Jackson-Davis a smile and wink on the bench, which set the tone for those first 16 minutes.
The Hoosiers then made three straight shots for a 12-2 run that put IU up 23-16.
A Jervay Green corner 3 stopped the bleeding. Four made free throws and a Cross lay in tied it back up at 25 with 7:30 left, and a Husker blitz was on. Cheatham stole a pass and scored for a one-point lead, then Thorbjarnarson scored in traffic. It’d end up a 17-3 run after falling behind by six.
Out of the under four minute timeout, the dam finally broke. Hoiberg sensed it, when Indiana scored seven points in less than 90 seconds and he called a timeout, now down 34-33.
But out of that timeout, Nebraska missed its final nine shots of the half. Indiana muscled inside, and the IU-heavy Bankers Life Arena sensed the moment, feeling comfortable enough to rise and scream for the first time all night.
Armaan Franklin made a wing 3-pointer, then Devonte Green stood and posed on the wing after his swish. A putback lay in made it the 16-1 run, and gave the Hoosiers a 43-34 lead at the break, its largest of the game.
Indiana doubled-up Nebraska’s paint scores — 24 to 12 — made seven of its last eight shots and tied the Big Ten tournament record with 10 first-half blocks. The Hoosiers shot 56% in that first half, Nebraska coming in at just 31%.
Indiana came out with a 11-4 run against a Nebraska team out of gas. The edge, the attitude early wore off, and Nebraska was left with a team on the floor that’d hardly played with each other, that couldn’t make routine lay ups.
The Hoosiers made it a 20-point lead with 58-38 after a Smith layup. Hoiberg called a timeout in frustration.
When the wheels came off, they came off hard. Charlie Easley was blocked so hard it turned into an IU fast break. Kevin Cross missed so bad the ball ended up on top of the backboard, which Race Thompson got with a floor mop during play.
Nebraska went zone and found a spark mid-way through the half, firing off a 13-2 run after four straight makes -- including Cheatham from the corner. A Cross 3-pointer cut the once 21-point lead down to 10, 68-58 with 8:22 left.
Cross’s fourth 3-pointer pulled that to nine.
An Indiana 10-3 run shut that brief light of hope down to close out the win.
Sadler — who finished coaching the game for Nebraska — was the only person on the Husker bench to walk down the handshake line.
He bumped elbows with Indiana coach Archie Miller.
The rest of the Nebraska basketball program was waved off the court and did not shake hands, and made their way immediately to the locker room, where they now remain.