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Nebraska Basketball

Huskers Hit Rock Bottom in Iowa City

February 8, 2020
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With just under 14 minutes to play in the game, a dunk by Iowa’s Luka Garza gave the Hawkeyes a 22-point lead. At that point, Garza and Joe Wieskamp, Iowa’s top two scoring options, had out-scored Nebraska’s entire team by themselves, 40-38.

Hoiberg pulled most of his main rotation players after that, rolling with a frontcourt of freshman Akol Arop and Matej Kavas with Thorir Thorbjarnarson, Jervay Green and Charlie Easley on the perimeter, but it didn’t matter. Wieskamp hit back-to-back 3s and then converted a three-point play to push the lead to 29. Then Garza hit a 3 of his own to make it 32, tying Nebraska’s largest deficit of the season.

Hoiberg went back to his starters after a Kavas 3, but it didn’t matter. The Hawkeyes continued to roll through the Huskers, converting 10-of-11 field goals at one point and building the lead up to 35. Austin Ash, a walk-on, came in and started burying 3s.

When Garza and Wieskamp sat down for good, the duo had outscored Nebraska’s entire team 52-43. Iowa gave its reserves and walk-ons plenty of court time down the stretch and the Huskers’ bench unit cut into the lead like it did against Penn State, but the Hawkeyes still rolled to a 96-74 win.

Wieskamp scored a career-high 30 points on 10-of-15 from the field, 2-of-4 from 3 and 8-of-8 from the free-throw line. Garza added 22 points on 9-of-13 from the field, 2-of-4 from 3 and 2-of-3 from the line.

Iowa scored 1.28 points per possession and nearly cracked 100 despite going through an eight-minute scoring drought in the first half.

After a disappointing second half against Penn State at Pinnacle Bank Arena last Saturday, Fred Hoiberg called out his team and promised a tough week of practice. The message apparently didn’t sink in. The Huskers got off to brutal starts in both halves.

After shooting 4-of-33 from 3 against Nebraska in Lincoln earlier in the season when the Huskers knocked off the Hawkeyes, Iowa hit four of its first five 3-point attempts and raced out to a 21-5 lead.

The Huskers responded well to that initial run as Green checked in off the bench and sparked the Huskers to a 12-0 run, cutting the deficit down to four at 25-21. After a tough start to the game, Cam Mack picked it up on both ends as Nebraska held Iowa scoreless for a full 8 minutes. Iowa built the lead back up to 11 before a dunk and a 3 — Nebraska’s first of the game after an 0-for-9 start — by Green cut it back to six.

A pair of free throws by Wieskamp and a leaning one-handed 3 by CJ Fredrick at the buzzer gave the Hawkeyes a 41-30 lead at halftime.

Nebraska struck first in the second half with a layup by Mack, but it was all Iowa after that. The Hawkeyes shot 16-of-22 from the field and 8-of-8 from the line in the first 13 minutes of the second half before both teams officially called it a day for their main starters with less than 7 to play. The lead had reached 38 at one point. Nebraska had no answer no matter what lineup Hoiberg threw out there as the Huskers were a mess on both ends, coughing up the ball seemingly every other trip down the floor and offering next to no resistance on the other end.

Nebraska also lost senior guard Haanif Cheatham to a calf injury midway through the second half. He went straight back to the locker room and couldn’t put any weight on the leg.

If this isn’t rock bottom, I shudder to think what it might look like over the final eight games. Nebraska has lost eight straight and is sitting at seven wins on the season. The Huskers won two of their first four Big Ten games — including the win against Iowa and haven’t won since.

Mack, the catalyst for the success that Nebraska did have earlier in the season, had another rough showing with 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting, three assists and five turnovers.

The biggest bright spot from the game was Green, the junior college transfer who has bounced back from a two-game benching to carve out a role for himself off the bench. He led the Huskers with 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting including 2-of-5 from 3, seven rebounds and two assists. Nebraska outscored Iowa by seven with Green on the floor, although some of that came at the end against Iowa’s predominately walk-on unit. Even so, he was plus-8 with 11 points in his 12 first-half minutes.

Arop saw his most extended playing time of the season with 11 minutes, all in the second half. He finished both of his field goal attempts for four points, grabbed three rebounds and emphatically blocked a Hawkeye shot.

Outside of Dachon Burke’s 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting, the next-highest scorer for Nebraska was the former walk-on Easley with seven points. The Huskers shot 42.4% from the field including 5-of-25 from 3 and turned the ball over 12 times. Iowa shot 48.6% including 11-of-28 from 3.

Things won’t get any easier next week. The Huskers will have a short turnaround before a trip out to Maryland on Tuesday to take on the Terrapins who are 19-4 overall and sitting atop the Big Ten with a 9-3 conference record.

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Huskers Hit Rock Bottom in Iowa City

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