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Iowa falls to Nebraska, 76-70


NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Penn State Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Just a few days removed from throwing away what should have been a win against Penn State thanks to poor free throw shooting, the Iowa Hawkeyes couldn’t get back on track against the Nebraska in Lincoln, falling to the Huskers 76-70. Iowa had a lead in the game for a whopping 38 seconds.

Iowa has now lost in Lincoln for three consecutive games, and only has one win in its last six visits to Nebraska. Iowa loses its initial matchup against Nebraska in the Fred Hoiberg era. The win puts the Hawkeyes at 10-4 on the year and 1-2 in conference play.

It’s honestly incredible that this game was close, considering the Hawkeyes were absolutely abysmal from deep, shooting 4-33 from beyond the arc. Add to the fact that somehow, the Hawkeyes also only shot five free throws, which is absolutely laughable, and it’s not surprising in the least that this was a loss for Iowa. Despite those struggles, Joe Wieskamp put up 21 points on 10-23 shots (1-10 from deep, yikes) and 7 rebounds, Luka Garza put up 16 points and 18 rebounds. Joe Toussaint put up 14 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists, but couldn’t hit on any of his 5 shots from deep. Instead, Connor McCaffery of all people was Iowa’s leading scorer from deep, hitting three for all of his 9 points.

Nebraska got the game going on a 7-0 run as the Hawks went 0-4 from the field, a couple turnovers and a Fran McCaffery technical, all in the first 2 and a half minutes of the game. But the Hawks responded with a 7-0 run of their own to knot things up at 7 with 15:30 to go in the half. But all of those points came from Toussaint and McCaffery, as Wieskamp couldn’t find his shot, and Garza was constantly doubled and heavily guarded, and suddenly the Huskers ripped off another 8-0 run.

Iowa’s shooting percentage was pretty awful from two and three, and the lineups that resulted from the multiple scoring droughts were just as horrendous. The first half saw a lineup consisting of Toussaint, Riley Till, Cordell Pemsl and Bakari Evelyn all at once. Despite this, and despite facing a double-digit deficit multiple times, the Hawks persevered through the offensive struggles and kept things close.

Garza started getting it going with just under four minutes left in the half, and suddenly Nebraska’s lead was only 30-27. But the Huskers responded with another 8-0 run and brought the lead right back to double-digits, and the halftime score was 38-31.

Iowa started the half strong, getting improved offensive performances from Wieskamp and Garza, who started attacking the rim successfully. But Nebraska had an answer every time the Hawks would bring the game within reach. A couple of nice shots from deep from McCaffery and Wieskamp finally gave Iowa a 51-50 lead with just over 12 minutes to go in the game. But Iowa once again could not capitalize on the momentum. Nebraska jumped out to a three point lead again, and points, particularly from deep, continued to be at a premium for the black and gold. And despite finding success underneath the basket every time they went on these runs, Iowa could never be aggressive enough to get the referees to make calls.

Both teams struggled with turnovers and were the beneficiaries of questionable calls, but the game stayed close, despite the continued offensive struggles of Wieskamp. With 5:15 left, however, Wieskamp found the basket and tied the game at 69 (nice). Nebraska, however, responded immediately from deep and the crowd came alive.

With just under 4 minutes left to play, Nebraska hit two consecutive 3-pointers and in response, Iowa...turned the ball over. Six times in the last two minutes, to be exact. Iowa even got things within four, before a tremendous breakaway and-1 dunk from Dachon Burke put the exclamation point on the win and deflated the entire Iowa team.

This was just about as bad as it could get for Iowa. And it certainly doesn’t get easier. Yes, the team gets to play at home on Friday, but it’s against the No. 12 Maryland Terrapins. Bad nights happen, but this certainly isn’t the kind of momentum this team needs heading into a big matchup.