IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa men’s basketball team fell to Nebraska, 81-77, on Sunday afternoon in front of a sold-out crowd on Mediacom Court at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa closes out the regular season with a 19-12 record and 11-9 in the Big Ten Conference.
Nebraska jumped out to an, 18-9, lead to start the game before redshirt junior Patrick McCaffery helped spark a 12-0 Hawkeye scoring run.
McCaffery drilled a triple as the shot clock expired, which sophomore Payton Sandfort immediately followed up with a 3-pointer of his own. Patrick McCaffery drilled another trey following a steal by brother Connor McCaffery, and junior Kris Murray drained another three the next time down the court to give Iowa its first lead of the game.
The Cornhuskers briefly took a, 36-33, lead with just under three minutes left in the first half. Patrick McCaffery answered the bell again, converting a four-point play to put the Hawkeyes back ahead asIowa led, 43-39, heading into the break.
Patrick McCaffery’s five first-half 3-pointers put him at a new career-best for triples in a game; he would finish 6-of-10 from behind the arc on Sunday.
The second half was a back-and-forth affair, but Nebraska took its largest lead of the period, 80-75, with two and a half minutes remaining. The Cornhuskers closed the game out at the free throw line after trailing the Hawkeyes for the majority of the game.
The Hawkeyes finished 37 percent (27-of-74) from the floor and 32 percent from long range on 12-of-37 shooting behind the arc; Nebraska finished with 14 triples on only 26 tries (54 percent) and finished 59 percent (31-of-53) shooting overall.
Patrick McCaffery led the game in scoring with 23 points on 7-of-14 efficiency from the floor. He also totaled four rebounds and two steals on a +7 performance through 25 minutes of action.
Murray finished with 22 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals against Nebraska.
Iowa’s two seniors closed out the season strong at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Fifth-year Filip Rebraca finished with 10 points and seven rebounds, one assist and a steal and Connor McCaffery scored eight points while posting eight rebounds and nine assists on just one turnover against the Cornhuskers.
The Hawkeyes snagged 12 steals while allowing just one of their own. Iowa also narrowly won on the glass, 39-37, while hauling in 21 offensive boards.
HEAR FROM HEAD COACH FRAN MCCAFFERY
“You have got to give [Nebraska] credit. They made shots. They moved it. If you make 14 threes, you have a good shot to win. We really locked into Walker, Tominaga and Griesel, and the other guys hurt us. Look at the stats. Wilcher, Hoiberg, Lawrence was terrific, he has been playing great, and Breidenbrach. Our rotations were not maybe as great as they should have been, or could have been, but those guys had to eventually make the shots, and they did. So, like I said, give them credit…
Win or lose the last game, you can’t let that linger over. You have to go down there with a business-like approach. You are starting fresh. Everything is zero-zero. Whether you get a bye, a double-bye or no bye, you are going to play somebody really good. You are going to have to play well to win. We have done some really good things. There have been some games where we struggled. At least we made 12 threes. We shot a ton, maybe more than we should have, but that is kind of how they play defense. You are going to have open shots, so we took open shots. I didn’t feel there were that many that I would say, ‘boy, that was a really bad shot’…
[Patrick McCaffery] has been practicing really well. He had a terrific practice yesterday and the day before. So, you could kind of see it coming, but to see him play with that energy level with the big tip-in down the stretch, hitting six threes and being aggressive. Even a couple pull-ups that he missed. I have been telling him, you have got to drive the ball and shoot your pull-up, that is when you are at your best. That was good to see…
I put the toughest schedule ever in front of this team. No Iowa team has ever played a tougher schedule than this. So, I am really proud of what they have accomplished. Some of the losses are tough, because they are battling for us. Some of the wins were great. I just look at it this way: it is a respect for the league. There is a reason why there are a lot of teams bunched together, because that is the quality of this league. We handled our business for the most part. We had injury. We had adversity. We are not the only team. A lot of teams had it. We had it. We overcame it. Now we get ready to go to Chicago.”
- Today’s loss snapped Iowa’s seven-game home win streak. Iowa finished its home schedule 14-3.
- Patrick McCaffery netted a team-high 23 points, his highest scoring total since 20 against Southeast Missouri State on Dec. 17, 2022. McCaffery sank a career-high six triples, equaling the most by a Hawkeye this season (Payton Sandfort at No. 15 Indiana).
- Connor McCaffery was credited with a game-high nine assists, while also totaling eight points and eight rebounds. The senior has collected 5+ assists five of Iowa’s last eight contests.
- All-America candidate Kris Murray scored 22 points, reaching 20+ points a team-best 15 times this season.
- Iowa recorded a season-high 12 steals.
- The Hawkeyes made 12 3-pointers today, nine in the first half. Iowa dropped just its second game of the season when making nine or more 3-pointers (12-2).
- Iowa has made a combined 42 triples over its last three games (17 vs. Michigan State, 13 at No. 15 Indiana, 12 vs. Nebraska).
Iowa (19-11, 11-9) will travel to the Big Ten Tournament in Chicago later this week.