Iowa Basketball: Previewing Nebraska Cornhuskers

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Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa basketball and Nebraska tipoff on Big Ten Network at 1 p.m. this Sunday.

Iowa basketball only has one winning streak of three games or more this season. They can have their second three-game winning streak of the 2016-17 season with a home win over Nebraska on Sunday afternoon.

The Hawkeyes come into the game having played well against Ohio State and Rutgers despite not having leading scorer Peter Jok. Still, Iowa managed to win an important game against Ohio State and notched their first home win of the season.

Iowa will be back at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, which could be the extra boost they need after losing to Nebraska in double-overtime last time.

Nebraska is fresh off a loss to Michigan State on Thursday, 72-61. The Cornhuskers continued their downfall in the Big Ten standings since their 3-0 start.

Since, Nebraska is just 1-6 and its 10-12 record is the only losing record in the Big Ten. The silver lining is Nebraska’s lone win over the past month is against 20th ranked Purdue, 83-80, plus their losses haven’t been terrible.

Nebraska has lost by single-digits in four of their six conference losses. Their only double-digit losses came by 12 against Northwestern and 11 to Michigan State, so not blowouts. That said, Nebraska could easily be 6-4 in conference play if they didn’t lose by one to Ohio State and Rutgers in back-to-back games.

Therefore, as bad as Nebraska’s record looks, they’re not a team Iowa can take lightly. They’ve already beaten the Hawkeyes once this season and have two impressive road wins against Indiana and Maryland this season.

iowa basketball

Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa Hawkeyes 90, Nebraska Cornhuskers 93 (2OT)

It ended up being one of the most exciting Big Ten games of the year the last time these two teams met. Iowa and Nebraska played each other tough the whole way, as the game went to double overtime because of the Hawkeyes’ inability to close out games.

Iowa’s slow start forced them into a 15-8 hole almost eight minutes into the game. Although, the Hawkeyes battled back and took a first half lead before trailing at halftime 37-34.

Iowa never led by more than a couple of points in the second half, but Iowa led 74-72 with 2:45 left in regulation. It was the Hawkeyes game to lose. Iowa held Nebraska to just two points in the final 2:45, which should have been good enough, but Nebraska’s defensive intensity to end regulation topped Iowa’s and held the Hawkeyes scoreless.

The Hawkeyes finished regulation shooting 0-of-3 from the field. Luckily for Iowa, Evan Taylor missed two free-throws with one second left to keep the game tied 74-74 and force overtime.

In the first overtime, Iowa never trailed and led by as many as four with 1:37 left. Although, just like at the end of regulation, the Hawkeyes ended the overtime missing their last two shots, turning it over once and fouling Tai Webster with 12 seconds left. Webster made both of his free-throws to once again tie the game 83-83 and force a second overtime.

Nebraska played tougher in the second overtime and led for most of it. That said, a Peter Jok three gave Iowa a 90-89 lead with 1:25 left. To no surprise, Nebraska ended the game scoring the final four points with Iowa missing their final two shots and turning it over twice.

The Hawkeyes had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation and both overtimes, but they couldn’t close out games and wasted Jok’s 34 points as a result. Jok was one of four Iowa starters to score in double-figures against Nebraska, while Nicholas Baer contributed five points, 11 rebounds and six blocks off the bench.

On Nebraska’s side, Glynn Watson Jr and Tai Webster combined for 57 points on 18-of-34 shooting. Michael Jacobson also added seven points and 13 rebounds, and Jeriah Horne scored 12 points off the bench.

This game helped Nebraska start Big 10 play 3-0. The Hawkeyes might have been the better team, but the Cornhuskers came in on a hot streak and Iowa’s young team couldn’t figure out how to finish games.

iowa basketball

Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Players To Watch

Tai Webster: 18.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 4.0 APG, 1.5 SPG, 44.4 FG%

Tai Webster is one of the most underrated players in the nation. The 6’4″ senior guard does a little of everything for Nebraska. He leads the team in scoring and assists, while ranking second on the team in steals and third in rebounding. His 35.3 minutes per game is telling of how important he is and how much Nebraska relies on him.

Against Iowa, he played 49 of 50 minutes and recorded 23 points, seven assists, six rebounds and four steals. The Hawkeyes saw first hand how dominant and versatile Webster is. It makes him extremely dangerous, as he still makes a big impact even when his shot isn’t falling.

Webster comes into this game struggling with his shot, though. He has shot 40 percent or worse in each of the past four games and is only a 32.6 percent three-point shooter on the year.

Iowa has defended guards who like to put the ball on the floor better than three-point shooters this season. Plus, they have somewhat of an idea of how Nebraska will attack them using Webster after his great game Iowa last time out. Therefore Webster’s struggles could continue on Sunday.

Glynn Watson Jr: 14.5 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 1.9 SPG, 43.2 FG%, 42.4 3P%

Tai Webster wants to drive to the hoop, but Glynn Watson Jr is content with taking threes. He’s a 42.4 percent three-point shooter this year and torched Iowa last time. Watson finished with an astounding 34 points in 40 minutes on 11-of-18 shooting and 7-of-8 three-point shooting before he fouled out.

Getting him into foul trouble is telling that Iowa knows how to attack him, plus he likely won’t shoot as well and score 30-plus points again. Therefore, having Watson only contribute his normal 14.5 points per game could be the difference between last game and this one. Besides, Watson hasn’t topped 15 points in any of the past five games.

Watson is a streaky shooter that can have a great or bad game on any given night. He has seven games of 20-plus points but six of fewer than 10. Iowa caught him on his best night of the season, so they shouldn’t be discouraged coming into this game.

Forcing him into long threes will help Iowa, but they can’t afford to leave him open due to their inconsistent perimeter defense because Watson gaining confidence in his outside shot is exactly what Nebraska is hoping for.

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