Nebraska’s 93-91 overtime win over Iowa was a game of big moments. And not just for one or two players, but for what felt like just about every Husker on the court.
Take Johnny Trueblood for example. The Omaha, Nebraska, native was one of five Nebraska seniors honored before Sunday’s matchup with Iowa. The Huskers haven’t used Trueblood much during his career, but Sunday was a different story.
“I was told two minutes before that I wasn’t starting for Senior Night but to be ready to go,” Trueblood said post-game. “I was just kind of shocked about it, to be honest, because I didn’t know if [Miles] was going to roll with our seven guys or dip into me a little bit.”
Trueblood ended up playing 26 minutes. He went scoreless during that time, but he finished the day plus-18.
“Might be a record,” Trueblood said. “For somebody who didn’t score [any] points, it might be a record.”
Miles was impressed by Trueblood’s performance against Iowa. He spoke post-game about Trueblood’s poise, courage and bravery.
“I only wanted to kill him once,” Miles said.
“Did you see the charge?” Miles said. “Remember that? With like 14 or 16 on the shot clock.”
OK, so it wasn’t perfect. But Trueblood’s time in the game against Iowa proved to be exacty what Nebraska needed. He ended the day with six rebounds and four assists.
But Trueblood wasn’t the only one with a big moment. There was junior Isaiah Roby—wearing No. 14 in honor of injured senior Isaac Copeland Jr.—who ended the day with 23 points and eight boards on 9-for-12 shooting. Senior Tanner Borchardt had eight points and eight boards. Senior Glynn Watson Jr. tied his career-high for 3-pointers with seven, a number he previously hit against Iowa in 2017. He scored 34 in that matchup, which Nebraska won 93-90 in double overtime. You can’t even make up a better parallel.
We’re not done yet, either. Freshman Amir Harris ended the day with eight points and nine boards, including the game-winning layup. Even senior James Palmer Jr. was able to turn around a rough (and that might be putting it lighty) first 30 minutes with a final nine that were far better (and that might be putting it lighty, too). After making only five of his first 19 attempts, Palmer made his last five shots. That included the game-tying basket in regulation.
“Everybody had those big moments,” Miles said. “Amir hit the two free throws and he got the wide gap driving right and he can finish over just about anybody. But even the little things like the defense and the block outs and coming up with a loose basketball, Glynn sold out and we were on the floor.
“I’m just so proud of these kids. The circumstances didn’t dictate them, worried about anything other than trying to win the ball game.”
The circumstances that Miles mentioned were likely a combination of things. The Huskers sit at 16-15 on the season after what was expected to be a NCAA-tournament-or-bust year. As a result, there’s plenty of talk surrounding Miles’ future as the Huskers’ coach.
Nebraska didn’t let the noise get in the way.
“We were just playing for Nebraska, playing for Coach [Miles] and our team, each other basically,” Watson said. “I don’t really try to pay attention to the outside things and I know they talk about it but it’s nothing I can do. It’s nothing anybody can do.
“We’ve just got to keep fighting and we’ve got to fight for each other.”
The Huskers did just that. They fought for each other on Senior Day, on the regular-season-finale at home.
And it all ended on one final big moment. Sophomore Thorir Thorbjarnarson closed out the game in overtime with a big block on Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon’s triple at the buzzer. It’s hard to know if Bohannon’s shot would have been good, but Thorbjarnarson left no chance.
“Thor had a block and then ran off with one finger in the air,” Miles said. “I mean, come on. That’s Thor. That’s why you love him.”
It was the perfect big moment to end a game filled with big moments.
Nebraska is back in action Wednesday when the Big Ten Tournament begins in Chicago. The Huskers will play Rutgers in the 12-13 matchup at 5:30 p.m. CT on BTN.