Huskers Suffer Setback at Iowa State
Ames, Iowa --- The Nebraska basketball team rallied from a 12-point halftime deficit and tied Iowa State at 45-45 with less than seven minutes remaining, but the Cyclones hit four big shots down the stretch to pull away in the final three minutes and earn a 65-53 victory in Hilton Coliseum on Wednesday.
The Huskers trailed 32-20 at the intermission and scored the first six points of the second half before Craig Brackins and Lucca Staiger powered ISU back in front by double figures. Staiger's 3-pointer at the 15:09 mark, one of his six treys in the game, helped Iowa State match its largest lead of the contest at 13 points, 39-26.
Despite the deficit, Nebraska wasn't done fighting back.
The Huskers quickly trimmed the lead to eight on a Paul Velander 3-pointer and a pair of Ade Dagunduro free throws. Following a Brackins' basket that put ISU back up 10, the Huskers reeled off eight straight points, cutting the deficit to two on Cookie Miller's steal and subsequent fastbreak basket. It was two of Miller's season-high 11 points, as he hit 5-of-8 shots from the field while adding four assists and three steals.
Ahead by only two with just under 10 minutes left in the game, Iowa State got two more baskets from Brackins, who dominated the paint in the second half while on his way to a 21-point, 12-rebound effort. Brackins helped Iowa State (12-5) even its record at 1-1 in Big 12 Conference play while the Huskers fell to 11-4 on the season and 1-1 in league action.
The Huskers rallied again, getting 3-pointers from Paul Velander on consecutive possessions to tie the game at 45-45 with 6:26 to play. Nebraska made a stop on the defensive end and had a chance to take the lead for the first time since holding a 13-12 advatnage in the first half, but Dagunduro's layup in traffic missed off the front of the rim. ISU then went the other way and pushed ahead by five points over the next three minutes.
Steve Harley's basket with 2:55 to play again cut the Cyclone lead to two, but ISU then started to pull away as it hit four of its last five shots from the field and 3-of-4 free throws, all in the final three minutes.
On the game, Iowa State hit 46.0 percent (23-of-50) from the field, including 9-of-20 (45 percent) from 3-point range. Staiger hit six 3-pointers by himself for 18 points while adding seven rebounds, as the Cyclones outrebounded Nebraska 42-28, including 19-9 in the second period.
Nebraska looked to get off to a quick start as Harley broke free at the top of the key and scored the game's first points just 11 seconds into the contest. The lead would not last long as Staiger connected on a pair of 3-pointers in just over three minutes to give ISU a 6-2 lead. The Huskers battled back behind Miller, who scored seven first-half points including a pair of baskets that kept NU within one in the opening minutes.
The Huskers then hit a scoring drought that forced them to play catchup the rest of the way.
NU scored on Miller's nifty up-and-under reverse layup off a strong drive to put the Huskers ahead 13-12 with 11:07 to play. From that point, Nebraska scored just two baskets the rest of the half as Iowa State opened the lead out to 13 points.
Iowa State went ahead 27-14 as Jamie Vanderbeken hit a pair of free throws to complete a 15-1 run before the Huskers finally got back on the board. With the shot clock winding down, Dagunduro drove from the wing and was fouled on the shot. He made the first free throw to snap NU's scoring drought at 4:37. It was almost another three minutes before the Huskers scored again, with Toney McCray adding a 3-pointer to pull NU within 10 at 27-17. The basket was Nebraska's first since Miller's highlight-reel play with just over 11 minutes remaining.
Dagunduro scored Nebraska's last points of the half on a traditional three-point play with just over nine seconds remaining in the period but ISU's Bryan Petersen countered with a 3-pointer in the final two seconds to give the Cyclones a 32-20 lead at the intermission.
Nebraska shot just 25.8 percent (8-of-31) from the floor in the opening period while Iowa State connected at a 40.0-percent clip (12-of-30). The Cyclones also held a slim 23-19 lead on the glass at the break.
The Huskers return to action on Saturday, Jan. 17, when NU plays host to Kansas State at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. The Huskers and Wildcats will tip off at 5:05 p.m. and the game can be seen in select markets around the country on the Big 12 Network. All Nebraska games can also be heard around the state on the IMG Husker Sports Network and on the Internet at Huskers.com.
Saturday's game will also be the Nebraska Basketball Hall of Fame game, as Danny Nee and Erick Strickland will be inducted into the hall of fame, while Kent Pavelka (Bud Cuca Special Merit Award) and Rex Ekwall (Distinguished Hall of Fame Alumni Award) are also honored.