LINCOLN, Neb. — After waiting more than 40 years, Nebraska fans had to sweat a couple extra periods Thursday night. But in the end, the Cornhuskers topped rival Iowa in a double overtime thriller, 93-90, opening conference play 3-0 for the first time in more than 40 years.
Here’s how it went down:
Two free throws by Nebraska sophomore guard Glynn Watson Jr. tied the ball game up at 74-74 with 14 seconds left in regulation. Nebraska stole the ball on the ensuing Iowa possession, ran in transition, and junior guard Evan Taylor was fouled with 1.3 second left.
Taylor then missed two free throws and the game went to overtime.
The Hawkeyes (9-7, 1-2) scored the first four points in overtime but Nebraska (9-6, 3-0) rallied and with Iowa up 83-81 with 15 seconds to go, Nebraska senior guard Tai Webster stole the ball and was immediately fouled. This time, however, Webster buried his two three throws to tie the game at 83 and force double overtime.
In the final minute of that frame, Webster stole another pass with the score tied at 90-90 and was again fouled. He hit 1 of 2 free throws to give the Hawkeyes the lead with 47 seconds to play. Iowa would not score again and the Huskers would put it away with two more free throws.
Why Nebraska won
Gutsy, gutsy, gutsy, gutsy play by Watson and Webster finished out the Nebraska win in overtime. That’s reason No. 1, 2, and 3.
All night, Nebraska attacked the hoop like crazy and it paid off.
It began with a jam from sophomore Michael Jacobson on the first possession. From there, Nebraska gave up midrange jumpers for layups. Webster drove and finished all night. Watson Jr. was there for kick-out 3s. The formula worked like it had against Indiana and Maryland.
Even when Iowa switched into a really high 2-3 zone that extended a few feet above the top of the key, Nebraska found a way to score — either through pounding it to the bigs inside or shooting Iowa out of the zone with 3-pointers.
Once again, Nebraska just found a way.
Watson Jr. was terrific.
The sophomore guard shot 6 for 9 from the floor and 3 for 4 from downtown in the first half, finishing the first 20 minutes with 15 points, 2 assists, 2 steals and 3 rebounds in 15 minutes. He finished with 34 points on 1–of-18 shooting (7 of 8 from 3) to go with 4 assists, 3 steals and 3 rebounds.
Webster, per usual, played a complete game. He finished with 23 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds.
What it means
Well first off, the game was probably one of the best ever in Pinnacle Bank Arena, which is worth noting. And second, Nebraska coach Tim Miles has, yet again, bought himself and the program some good press and some time.
Nebraska’s 3-0 start in Big Ten play is easily the most shocking narrative now in the Big Ten, considering the Huskers’ loss to Gardner-Webb 10 days before conference play began. It is the Huskers’ first 3-0 conference start in 41 years.
But the 3-0 start also proves that Nebraska’s early nonconference schedule, with games at Kansas and against Creighton, Dayton and Clemson, is paying off.
Something along the way around Christmas clicked for this team and now, for reasons no one really saw coming, they’re one of the top teams currently in the Big Ten.
Who is next
Nebraska will host Northwestern (12-4, 1-2) on Sunday at 1:15 p.m. CT (2:15 p.m. ET).
Somehow, Nebraska wins. pic.twitter.com/ELKpIY8FeX
— Christopher Heady (@heady_chris) January 6, 2017