Game Report: Nebraska Upsets Short-Handed Hawkeyes
Iowa’s struggles at Nebraska continued Tuesday night with a 76-70 loss in Lincoln. The Hawkeyes fell for the fifth time in their last six trips there.
The Huskers (7-8 overall, 2-2 Big Ten) led for all but 38 seconds of the game in pulling off the upset as an 8.5-point underdog. Thorir Thorbjarnarson paced five Nebraska players scoring in double figures with a career-high 17 points. Cam Mack added 15 points to go with 10 assists against just one turnover.
Joe Wieskamp netted a game-high 21 points for Iowa (10-5, 1-3) despite shooting just 1 of 10 from behind the three-point arc. Hawkeye center Luka Garza overcame a slow start to add 16 points and pull down a career-best 18 rebounds.
The home team focused on taking away Garza, who came into the action as the only player nationally averaging at least 20 points and 10 boards. It double- and triple-teamed the big man for most of the night.
Nebraska chose to let the Hawkeyes launch from the outside and it didn’t go well for the visitors. They finished 4 of 33 (12.1 percent) on three-point attempts. They shot 28 of 44 from inside the arc.
“We settled a few times in the second half,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said of the three-point shooting. “I thought we settled without really working the ball. I thought we had a couple of looks in the second half where we kind of shot it as an afterthought. Even though we were still open, you don’t shoot those. You move those, especially with time on the clock.”
Iowa played without starting guard C.J. Fredrick. The freshman suffered a stress reaction in his foot that could sideline him for awhile. He missed the Syracuse game earlier this season with a quad injury and logged just 14 minutes in a loss against Penn State Saturday before the foot pain became too much.
The Hawkeyes already are down two starters in Jack Nunge (knee) and Jordan Bohannon (hip), both of whom underwent season-ending surgery. Freshman Patrick McCaffery is heading towards a redshirt after playing two games in the rotation before suffering from residual effects from the cancer he conquered five years ago.
“Everybody has injury. Everybody has sickness. Everybody has tough stretches where there are a lot of road games, a lot of travel,” Fran McCaffery said.
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“We have other guys. We have to play better than we played tonight. Give credit and respect to our opponent but we didn’t play as well as we have been playing and I’m not going to put that all on the fact that C.J. Fredrick was not on the floor. It wasn’t like we played four on five. Somebody else was playing. We’ve got to play better than we played.”
The coach said Iowa will proceed cautiously with Fredrick. It didn’t sound like his return was imminent.
“I don’t know that I can expect anything. The only thing that I can expect is what the trainers and the doctors tell me,” Fran McCaffery said. “Is he cleared to play? Is he not cleared to play? I will not put him out there under any risk. At some point, if we have to shut him down, we’ll shut him down.
“Right now it’s still day to day. Until they tell me otherwise, that’s how we’ll go with it.”
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Iowa competed with eight scholarship players Tuesday. One of them, starter Connor McCaffery, was coming off an illness that caused vomiting all day on Sunday.
Senior big man Ryan Kriener (6-10, 255) started in place of Fredrick, Fran McCaffery deciding on a big lineup. It was his second start of the season and fourth of his career.
Wieskamp’s jumper tied the game at 59-59 with 5:20 to play in regulation. The Huskers then embarked on an 10-3 run to lead by seven points with 2:49 on the clock. The Hawkeyes could get no closer than four the rest of the way.
Iowa cut a 12-point deficit to three points with 3:23 remaining in the first half. It finally got Garza going late. He was held scoreless until 7:41 left in the opening 20 minutes, then scored nine before the break.
The Huskers responded to Iowa’s run with one of their own, scoring the game’s next eight points to lead, 38-27, with 1:21 left. They went to the locker room with a 38-31 advantage.
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The Hawkeyes suffered their first “bad loss” of the season Tuesday. Their first four setbacks occurred against teams with a combined record of 49-9. Nebraska sat at 170 in the NET Rankings.
-Iowa came into the game averaging 22.3 free throws per game, which ranked 75th nationally. It shot five on Tuesday while the Huskers took 26.
-It was Garza’s ninth double-double of the season and 14th of his career. His 18 rebounds tied Adam Woodbury for the most in McCaffery’s 10 seasons at the helm.
-Garza became the 27th player in program history to join the 1,000-point, 500-rebound club with his third rebound during the first half.
-Freshman Joe Toussaint, this week’s Big Ten Freshman of the Week, scored in double figures for the second straight game (14 points) for Iowa. He netted Saturday in the 89-86 loss against Penn State.