Ferrell, Blackmon talk Nebraska

The Big Ten men's basketball season has arrived and IU's players feel like they're ready. Read on to see what Yogi Ferrell and James Blackmon Jr. think about the opener with the Cornhuskers.

The Big Ten men’s basketball season has arrived and Indiana’s players believe the 13-game non-conference schedule has prepared them well for the rigors of the conference schedule.

IU junior guard Yogi Ferrell, IU’s most experienced player, said he is definitely looking forward to IU’s Big Ten opener tonight at 5:30 p.m. ET at Nebraska. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.

“We have to play with an edge, turn the noise off and give it our best shot,’’ Ferrell said. “We just want to go out there and play like we’ve been playing all year.”

Indiana is 10-3 in non-conference play following a 91-87 loss to Georgetown in Madison Square Garden on Saturday. The Hoosiers’ non-conference losses were to Eastern Washington, Louisville and Georgetown.

Nebraska, a team that was picked fourth in the Big Ten prior to the start of the season by conference writers, finished the non-conference slate with an 8-4 record. The Huskers have won two in a row after going 6-4 in their first 10 games. Nebraska’s losses were to Hawaii, Incarnate Word, Creighton and Rhode Island.

In that same pre-conference poll, IU was picked ninth in the Big Ten, just slightly ahead of Maryland. Maryland opened conference play Tuesday with a double overtime victory on the road in East Lansing against Michigan State.

IU freshman James Blackmon Jr. said the Hoosiers have something to prove heading into Big Ten play.

“We feel like we have a lot to prove to everybody so we’re going to go out there and do that,’’ said Blackmon, who leads the Hoosiers in scoring averaging 17.9 points per game. “Every game is going to be a big game and we just know we’re going to have to bring our best every game.

“We’re going to listen to the coaches, get into practice, doing everything we got to do. I think we just listen to the game plan of each game that the coaches give us so we can win.”

Ferrell said he knows it’s going to be a tough game for IU opening at Nebraska in a venue where the Cornhuskers have had a lot of success. This is also the one and only game against the Cornhuskers this season.

Last year, Nebraska swept the Hoosiers. The Cornhuskers won in Lincoln, 60-55 and then beat IU in Assembly Hall in March, 70-60.

Ferrell said IU has to play at a high level.

“We both have guys who can perform at a high level,’’ Ferrell said. “They’re experienced, well coached and they play well at home. We have to be at our best.”

Blackmon said IU needs to get offense off of its defensive effort.

“It really starts on defense for us,’’ Blackmon said. “The more stops we get, the better our offense performs. We have to keep their crowd out of the game and communicate.”

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