It was Senior Day for one coach’s son while the other had a career night but a third turned the tide in an 81-77 Nebraska Cornhuskers (16-15, 9-11) over the Iowa Hawkeyes (19-12, 11-9). Patrick McCaffery led the way for Iowa with 23 points and a career-high six three-pointers while Kris Murray added 22 of his own.
The Hawkeyes struggled to make shots, going 36% from the field and no baskets in the final 6:12 of gameplay. Despite forcing 15 turnovers and tallying 21 points off of them, the shooting defense wasn’t enough as Nebraska made 58% from the field and 53% from three.
The Hawkeyes took a minute to shake off the Senior Day festivities as Nebraska made their first four shots and seven of their first nine to race to a 18-9 lead.
Enter Patrick McCaffery and Payton Sandfort, as both hit their first three-point attempts and a storyline emerged of Pat taking issue with a statistic Robbie Hummel shared in the Hawks’ game against Indiana - 3 of his last 16 from deep. Patrick said he’d get five and called his shot...matching that total in the first half.
The Hawks’ also took advantage of Nebraska’s porous rebounding with nine offensive rebounds in the first half and 17 second chance points.
Iowa couldn’t shake the Huskers, though, with Nebraska shooting 57% from the shooting and 6/14 from deep in the first half. Sam Griesel went 3/4 from deep in the first half and led the Huskers with 14 points. Kris Murray hit his second three of the game to give Iowa their biggest lead of the half at 43-37 which was matched by Griesel with a jumper from Griesel to enter half at 43-39.
The game picked up largely where it left off with Iowa unable to pull away from the Cornhuskers for the first eight minutes of the second but a Murray three with 12:07 remaining gave the Hawks their biggest lead of the game at 62-55, resulting in a Fred Hoiberg timeout.
Sam Hoiberg nailed a three out of the break and minutes later, a punchout rebound from him resulted in a three which cut Iowa’s lead to 1. Patrick hit a three of his own but, once again, Hoiberg hit a three to give the Huskers their first lead of the second half with 8:16 remaining at 68-67.
Hoiberg again matched a Filip Rebrača layup and with Murray’s layup giving Iowa the 71-70 lead with 6:12 remaining. It was Iowa’s last basket of the game.
From there Jamarques Lawrence hit his fifth three of the game and CJ Wilcher had seven points on three consecutive possessions. Iowa tried to keep pace with free throw shooting but it wasn’t enough as a pair of free throws from Connor cutting the lead to 80-77 with 1:56 left.
Iowa got the stop they needed and couldn’t come up with any points after a missed Patrick layup and pair of crucial misses from Rebrača at the stripe. Another stop and Sandfort missed a quick-trigger three.
Hoiberg went 1/2 at the line before a Connor drive resulted in one of the worst blarge calls I’ve ever seen called by Kelly Pfeiffer.
The result concludes an up-and-down season (sweeping Rutgers & Indiana but getting swept by Wisconsin & Nebraska, seriously what the heck) which could still result in a double-bye in the conference tournament if results break the right way later today. Still, this one STINKS.