Brandon Ubel had a career-high 17 points, but Iowa used a 15-3 second-half run to pull away with a 62-53 win at the Devaney Center Wednesday evening.
Ubel was a perfect 7-of-7 shooting from the floor and led all scorers, but the Huskers shot just 36.5 percent from the floor as a team in dropping to 12-16 overall and 4-13 in the Big Ten. His 17 points topped his previous high of 15 against Oregon this season as he also added a team-high seven rebounds in a losing effort.
Nebraska was within 34-32 after a Caleb Walker dunk at the 14:00 mark, but Roy Devyn Marble keyed a 15-3 spurt that spotted the visitors their largest lead of the night at 49-35. Marble had eight of his 11 points in the spurt, including consecutive 3-pointers that pushed the Iowa lead to double figures for the first time at 45-35 with 11:26 left.
The Huskers fought back, as a Bo Spencer 3-pointer a Mike Fox jumper pulled Nebraska within 49-40 but Bryce Cartwright came right back with a driving basket and a 3-pointer to extend the lead back to 14 at 54-40 with 5:05 left. Cartwright finished with 11 points off the bench for Iowa.
Nebraska made one last run, cutting an 11-point lead to 58-51 on a Ubel dunk with 39 seconds left, but Iowa held on by hitting 4-of-6 from the foul line in the last 35 seconds to thwart Nebraska's comeback hopes.
Matt Gatens led Iowa (16-14, 8-9 Big Ten) with 16 points to pace three Hawkeyes in double figures, while Walker joined Ubel in double figures for Nebraska with 15 points. The Huskers did a good job of containing Gatens, who was averaging 25 points per game over Iowa's last three games, but could not take advantage from long distance, hitting 4-of-22 from 3-point range.
Both teams struggled offensively in the first half, as neither team shot over 40 percent, as Iowa took a 23-19 lead into the locker room. Iowa used a 10-2 run in building a 23-15 lead on a McCabe layup, but Nebraska chipped away as two Ubel baskets made it a four-point game at the break.
The Huskers close the regular season against Minnesota this Saturday morning at 11:30 a.m. The game will be carried across the state on the Husker Sports Network and televised on BTN.
*-Nebraska finishes the home season with a 9-8 home record, but has finished with a winning home record every year since the Devaney Center opened in 1976-77.
*-Brandon Ubel finished with a career-high 17 points on 7-of-7 shooting, topping his previous career best of 15 against Oregon earlier this season. It is the second straight Big Ten game Ubel has finished in double figures, as he had 13 at Michigan State on Saturday. He is 13-of-16 from the field over the last two games.
*-Caleb Walker's 15 points was his highest total in a conference game in his career (previous best was 13 on two occasions, most recently against Illinois. NU was 5-1 prior to tonight this season when Walker reached double figures.
*-Brandon Richardson dished out six assists, the fifth straight game he has had at least five assists. Richardson also had two steals - the 15th time with at least two steals
*-Nebraska went 4-of-24 from 3-pojnt range and is now 6-for-41 from 3-point range in the last two games
*-Bo Spencer was held to eight points, the first time in his Husker career he has been held out of double figures in consecutive games.
*-Nebraska falls to 2-11 this season when being held under 60 points.
*-Nebraska held Iowa to 44.9 percent from the floor, the 11th time this season the Huskers have held an opponent under 45 percent
Iowa Head Coach Fran McCaffery
On the importance of Iowa's 15-3 run in the second half
"Well, you know, the interesting thing there, I think, we were struggling offensively in the first half; both teams were. The second half wasn't a whole lot better, except when we got (Josh) Oglesby going early. He was big and (Roy Devyn) Marble was really struggling, he was a little sideways. I took him out and got into him a little bit, and as he typically does, he really responded. He was the guy-he and Bryce in that segment-of course, Matt (Gatens), so you're right. We scored seven straight possessions. That was the difference."
On defense helping overcome their offensive struggles in the first half
"Well, we defended really well in this game. And the last time we played them, they were just taking us off the dribble, they were running it down our throats. They really dictated what they wanted to do, and that's why they won. And then of course, they played better than us down the stretch, so we had to reverse that trend. We didn't play great offensively, but we did defend. They were one for 11 for three, we were up into them, we contained dribble penetration. They're a very quick team off the dribble. We contained that much better than we had. We handled the ball screens better, rebounded better and even though we didn't play particularly well offensively, we were still up four, and that's usually a good sign."
Head Coach Doc Sadler
"First of all, I'm obviously disappointed for our four seniors that we weren't able to get the win. I thought that the guys tried. I think they may be tried a little too hard and took some ill-advised shots, but it wasn't because they weren't trying. They wanted it so bad. You feel for guys like that because you talk about things for four and five years for these players, and it's hitting home to them now. It wasn't because they didn't give effort. I thought they gave tremendous effort. We didn't shoot the ball. You get Brandon Ubel 7-for-7, and we talked at halftime about getting the ball inside. Give credit to Iowa."
On if Iowa took away the inside play
"I don't think so. I think we could get it in there quite a bit; we just didn't do as good of job of coaching them to get in there like we should have. We should have done a better job."
On if he was happy with the defensive effort on Matt Gatens
"Yeah, I thought so. For a guy that's coming in that was probably as hot as a player in the conference offensively, I thought we did a good job on him. We lost him that one time when we got it down to one and they hit the three 3's in a row. It started on a bad switch, it started out with him. To be honest with you, we weren't that disappointed that (Roy Devyn) Marble shot those two, but he made them. That's nine points right there in three possessions."
On his job status for next season
"I haven't really thought about that. I signed an extension last April and I plan on seeing that through. Those things, guys, I don't worry about. What's your future? I don't know what mine is either. I just hope to get up in the morning and be able to take my kids to school, and if I can do that I'll be a lot happier than a lot of people. That's all I look forward to is the next day."