Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Fresh Off First Big Ten Win, Huskers Head to Iowa City

February 12, 2022

After 12 straight losses to open the conference season, Nebraska finally got a chance to chalk one up in the win column on Wednesday as the Huskers took down Minnesota 78-65.

Coach Fred Hoiberg has been talking all Big Ten season about the importance of getting that first win as positive reinforcement for the work they’ve put in, and now the Huskers will look to build off of that victory.

“The biggest thing, I think, is it gives you the confidence to know you can get them,” Hoiberg said after the win. “This Minnesota team, all their losses have been to teams in the top 30 of the NET, so it’s a good team — better, much better than what their record in conference shows. They played a lot of close games as well. This league is an absolute monster every time you step on the floor, so to know you can get over the hump and win one of these does wonders for confidence. 

“Now put this one behind us. The next couple days, we’ve got to come back with great prep and continue to grow and get better. But it does help when you can find a way to get a win to know you can do it.”

The Huskers will have to try to replicate the home effort on the road to turn their win into a streak as Nebraska will head to Iowa City to face the Hawkeyes on Sunday afternoon. Iowa is coming off a 110-87 beatdown of Nebraska’s next opponent, Maryland, on Thursday that improved the Hawkeyes to 6-6 in conference and 16-7 overall.

Leading the way for Iowa is one of the nation’s leading scorers in sophomore forward Keegan Murray (6-foot-8,225 pounds). Murray served as the team’s sixth man as a freshman last season averaging 7.2 points. This year, Murray is stuffing the stat sheet with 22.7 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, 1.3 steals and 1.2 assists while shooting 56.1% from the field, 35.6% from 3 and 74.6% from the free-throw line.

Sophomore forward Patrick McCaffery, the son of Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery, has made a leap this season as well and is putting up 11.2 points per game. Super senior Jordan Bohannon, the Big Ten’s all-time leader in career 3-pointers, is averaging 10.7 points while shooting 37.5% from deep. Kris Murray, Keegan’s twin brother, has replaced Keegan as the team’s sixth man, contributing 10.0 points and 4.4 rebounds per game while shooting 40.6% from 3 off the bench.

“They’re a really, really good basketball team,” Hoiberg said. “With as much as they lost last year, especially with the National Player of the Year in [Luka] Garza and [Joe] Wieskamp, you’ve got two guys that were drafted in the NBA. The jump that the Murray twins have made, those guards have stepped in, all of them. Bohannon coming back was huge. McCaffrey has been phenomenal for them in his sophomore year. So I’ve been really impressed with that team. We’re going to have to go in there and fire on all cylinders if we want to have a chance to win.”

Keegan Murray and Bohannon dropped 30 points apiece against the Terrapins on Thursday with Bohannon going 10-of-16 from 3.

Iowa is 17th in KenPom (fourth in adjusted offensive efficiency, 110th in adjusted defensive efficiency). The Hawkeyes have the second-lowest turnover rate in the country at 12.3%, they’re 62nd in effective field goal percentage at 52.9%(including 35.2% from deep) and 75th in offensive rebounding rate at 31.5%.

Tipoff on Sunday is set for 1 p.m. CT on FS1 with Matt Schumacker and Nick Base on the call. 

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