Jan. 26, 2012
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa needed more than Devon Archie’s poster-worthy dunk over Nebraska center Jorge Brian Diaz on Thursday in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
What the Hawkeye men’s basketball team needed was a defensive stop. And it didn’t come.
Nebraska (11-9 overall, 3-6 Big Ten Conference) converted 17 of its final 19 possessions down the stretch and overcame an 11-point first-half deficit to defeat Iowa (11-10, 3-4), 79-73.
“We couldn’t get a stop when we needed it,” UI head coach Fran McCaffery said. “It was disappointing, because defensively, that’s about as bad as you can play. We have got to do a better job, we did not play good defense tonight.”
The cruelest part of the contest came with 40 seconds left and the Cornhuskers leading, 75-73. Nebraska’s Dylan Talley — one of three Cornehusker reserves to see action — missed a jump shot, but somehow the ball tipped its way back to the Cornhuskers, who closed with a 4-0 run to grab their first league road win of the season.
Nebraska senior guard Brandon Richardson had the Hawkeyes pulling their feathers out. Richardson entered the game averaging 6.5 points per game, and he exploded for 25 points on 9-of-10 shooting from the field and 6-of-7 from 3-point range.
“Richardson is a good player, but 9-for-10 (field goals), 6-for-7 (3-pointers), 25 points? He hasn’t shown that,” McCaffery said. “But you’ve got to give him credit. He was going off the dribble, he was mixing it up. We concentrated on (Bo) Spencer and did a pretty decent job on him and we still gave him 16. I’m very disappointed in our defensive effort.”
Somewhat forgotten by the final score was another tremendous performance by UI sophomore Zach McCabe, who for the second straight game, poured in a career-high 20 points. Against Nebraska, he hit 9-of-11 from the field and pulled down six rebounds before fouling out with 1:58 left and the Hawkeyes trailing, 72-68.
“Zach is probably playing the best we have right now,” McCaffery said. “He’s mixing it up; he shoots 3s, he drives the ball, he has put backs. He has versatility in his game, but I think confidence is another side. He’s very confident in himself right now.”
The Hawkeyes led at halftime, 38-31, behind 53.6-percent shooting from the field (15-of-28). McCabe compiled 13 points, five rebounds and two steals before the break. Iowa reached its largest lead of the half at the 6:21 mark when Bryce Cartwright sank a jump shot to put Iowa ahead, 31-20. Although that was Cartwright’s lone field goal of the first 20 minutes, he handed out a team-high three assists and added a steal.
Nebraska matched Iowa’s first-half field goal proficiency during a final 20 minutes that saw the Cornhuskers scored 48 points. Richardson scored 15 points in the second half, but Marble nearly kept pace with 12 points on two field goals and 8-of-8 from the foul line.
Three other Iowa players joined McCabe in double figures: Marble scored 15, Gatens added 12 and Aaron White tossed in 11 points with a game-high nine rebounds. White pulled down five of Iowa’s 10 offensive rebounds.
The Hawkeyes return to action Sunday, Jan. 29, at Indiana (16-5, 4-5) with a 5 p.m. (CT) tip. The Hoosiers lost at Wisconsin on Thursday, 57-50. Iowa has won the last four games in the series against Indiana.