Nebraska went more than five minutes without a field goal in the second half and couldn’t recover as they fell to the Iowa Hawkeyes 88-78 Friday evening in what was the final home game of the year for Big Red.
With the loss, Nebraska drops to 7-21 on the year and 1-16 in Big Ten play while Iowa earned its 20th win of the year and a sweep of Fred Hoiberg’s Huskers in 2021-22. Nebraska will likely claim it’s spot in the Big Ten cellar at year’s end. Iowa (20-8), on the other hand, is tied with Rutgers for fifth in the conference at 10-7.
Trailing 36-35 at intermission, Nebraska stayed with Iowa in the early going of the second half by answering every mini run by Iowa with a mini run of their own. Tony Perkins then took matters into his own hands and almost single handedly took the Hawkeyes on an 8-2 run by himself when he sandwiched a couple of layups around his made jumper to put Iowa up 56-51.
Keegan Murray then buried a two-handed dunk, forcing Hoiberg to call a timeout with 11:32 left in the contest.
The Huskers weren’t ready to go away at that point and responded with Alonzo Verge Jr.’s jumper coming out of the timeout. On Nebraska’s next possession, freshman C.J. Wilcher buried a jumper from beyond the arc and the Huskers trailed 58-56 with 10:51 left.
Nebraska scored just four points, all on free throws, over the next 5:49 of the contest and found themselves trailing 71-60 with less than six minutes left. The Huskers did get back within 81-74 with 31-seconds left on back-to-back layups by Derrick Walker and Verge Jr. Jordan Bohannon and Kris Murray, however, combined to hit five straight free throws to put Iowa up 86-74 with 15 ticks left.
Nebraska did lead 28-21 following Kobe Webster’s jumper from beyond the arc with 6:47 left in the opening half. But Iowa mounted its comeback when Connor McCaffery responded with a ‘3’ of his own. The Hawkeyes then scored 12 of the final 19 points of the opening half to sneak into the halftime locker room with a slim 36-35 advantage following Filip Rebraca’s layup at the buzzer.
Following Patrick McCaffery’s made three-pointer for Iowa a minute and a half into the contest, there were no ties in the game. There were, however, 10 lead changes in the contest.
Nebraska did honor Alonzo Verge Jr., Trevor Lakes, Kobe Webster, Derrick Walker, Lat Mayen, Trey McGowens and Chris McGraw during Senior Night festivities at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Walker, Mayen, Try McGowens and McGraw all have eligibility left due to COVID-19 eligibility freezes should they choose to come back.
Nebraska shot the ball well for the game, making 29 of 56 (52%) shots from the floor while Iowa sank 31 of 62 (50%) field goals. Both clubs shot over 40-percent from beyond the arc with the Hawkeyes outscoring Nebraska 27-24 there. The Huskers made 12 of 15 (80%) free throws to 17 of 24 (71%) for Iowa.
Iowa outrebounded Nebraska 35-29 for the game, but Nebraska was credited with 14 assists to 12 for Iowa. Both clubs turned the ball over 10 times. Iowa, however, took advantage of Nebraska’s miscues and outscored the Cornhuskers 12-4 in points off turnovers. Iowa also outscored Nebraska 19-5 on second chance points.
Perkins led all scorers for Iowa with 20 points on eight of 10 shooting from the field and pulled down five rebounds. Keegan Murray was good for 15 points and 11 rebounds on the night while Bohannon and Kris Murray added 12 points each. Connor and Patrick McCaffery were good for 11 and 10 points respectively.
Verge Jr. led Nebraska with 18 points, five rebounds and seven assists while C.J. Wilcher scored 14 points. Bryce McGowens added 13 points and Walker ripped the cords for 10 points and reeled in eight boards for Hoiberg. Trey McGowens scored nine points and Lat Mayen and Webster finished with eight and six points to round out Nebraska scoring.
Nebraska has three road games left, beginning with a trip to University Park, PA to take on the Penn State Nittany Lions Sunday at 6 PM. The Cornhuskers will then travel to Ohio State and Wisconsin to finish Big Ten play before preparing for the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis Mar. 9-13. Iowa, meanwhile, hosts Northwestern Monday Feb. 28 at 7 PM before hitting the road to battle Michigan and Illinois next week.