Nebraska improved to 3-0 in conference play for the first time in 41 seasons, but it was far from easy as Nebraska overcame deficits late in regulation and in overtime before pulling out a 93-90 double overtime win over Iowa at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Thursday.
The Huskers (9-6, 3-0 B1G) were down 83-79 with Iowa in possession with under a minute left in overtime but rallied behind the play of Tai Webster. The senior forced Iowa’s Peter Jok to miss and was fouled with 40 seconds left. Webster hit both free throws to pull NU within two. On Iowa’s next possession, Webster stripped Jok and was fouled with 12 seconds left before calmly sinking both shots to tie it at 83. Iowa, which never trailed in overtime, still had a chance to win in overtime, but Jordan Bohannon’s jumper was off the mark.
The Huskers, who had their own chance to win with 1.3 seconds left in regulation but came up empty on two free throw attempts, took the lead for good at 91-90 on a Webster free throw before Jeriah Horne’s two foul shots with 17 seconds left gave the Huskers a three-point lead. NU forced an off-balanced shot and grabbed the rebound, but Evan Taylor, who missed the two shots at the end of regulation, was unable to stretch the lead to a two-possession game with less than 8.1 seconds left, giving Iowa a chance to send it into a third OT, but Brady Ellington’s 3-pointer was off the mark, allowing NU to hold on.
The Husker backcourt was outstanding, as Webster and Glynn Watson combined for 57 points, 11 assists, nine rebounds and four steals. Watson tied Jok for game-high honors with a career-high 34 points, including 7-of-8 from 3-point range, while Webster also matched his career high with 23 points while adding seven assists, six rebounds and four steals.
Horne added 12 points, while Michael Jacobson added seven points, a career-high 13 rebounds and three blocked shots.
Jok kept Iowa (9-7, 1-2 B1G) in the game, scoring 30 of his 34 points after halftime to pace four Hawkeyes in double figures.
In the second half, the Huskers seemingly took control, opening the half by scoring six of the first eight points to take a 45-36 lead and force an Iowa timeout. The Hawkeyes came right back, as Jok scored five points in a 12-3 run to pull even at 48 after a Nicholas Baer 3-pointer with 13:20 remaining in regulation
From there, neither team would lead would lead by more than four points the remainder of the contest. Nebraska led 67-64 after a Taylor jumper with 4:56 left, but Jok came right back with a pair of 3-pointers to give the Hawkeyes a 3-point lead. Iowa led 74-72 after Jok’s layup with 2:45 left, but the Huskers were not able to get the tying points until the final seconds of regulation. Down by two, NU got the stop and Watson was fouled with 11 seconds left. On the ensuing possession, Horne stole the ball from Jok and got it to Taylor for the go-ahead basket, but he was fouled with 1.3 seconds left. Taylor, who was 12-of-14 entering tonight, missed both shots, as the game went to overtime.
Behind 15 first-half points from Watson, the Huskers took a 37-34 lead into the locker room. Watson hit 6-of-9 shots, including a trio of 3-pointers, as the Huskers shot 48 percent from the field, including 5-of-11 from 3-point range, as the teams traded runs throughout the opening 20 minutes.
Nebraska got on top early, as Watson scored five straight points in a 9-0 run to give the Huskers a 12-6 lead and force an Iowa timeout. The Huskers built a 15-8 lead after a Jeriah Horne 3-pointer, only to Isaiah Moss key a 13-2 Hawkeye run with 11 of his 15 first-half points to give the visitors a 21-17 lead.
Nebraska roared right back with seven straight points, including five from Watson to take a 27-23 lead. NU eventually pushed the lead to 32-27 after an Evan Taylor drive with 2:41 left in the half, but Iowa would run off five straight points, tying the score at 21 on an Ahmad Wagner putback with 1:21 remaining in the opening stanza.
NU is back in action on Jan. 8 when the Huskers welcome Northwestern to the Pinnacle Bank Arena. Tip off is set for 1:15 p.m. The game will be televised on BTN. Tickets are available for Sunday’s game by visiting Huskers.com or calling 800-8-BIGRED beginning Friday morning at 8 a.m.