A pair of Big Ten teams searching for their first conference win hope to end the year on a high note when Iowa visits Nebraska on Thursday night in Lincoln, Neb.
Iowa (8-4, 0-1 Big Ten) has lost four of seven since a 5-0 start, dropping an overtime battle with Wisconsin in its conference opener. But the most recent result was the most disturbing, as the Hawkeyes lost 92-83 at home to an Eastern Illinois team that had only one previous victory over a Division I school.
“These games always have a different feel to them, right before Christmas,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.
The Hawkeyes were missing senior guard Connor McCaffery, who was dealing with a hand injury, but he’s expected to play against Nebraska. The status is more uncertain for junior forward Kris Murray, who has missed the past four games with a back injury and was averaging 19.4 points and 10.1 rebounds before getting hurt.
Nebraska (7-6, 0-2) went into the holiday break with a 75-65 home win over Queens, snapping a three-game losing streak. The Cornhuskers are 5-1 at home, the only loss by three points in overtime to No. 1 Purdue on Dec. 10.
Five players scored in double figures for Nebraska against Queens, sticking with the season trend in which six guys are averaging between 9.4 and 14 points per game.
“That, ideally, is what needs to happen with our group,” Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg said.
Iowa averages 83.8 points per game, which ranks 15th in Division I entering Tuesday, and plays at one of the fastest paces in the country. Nebraska has slowed down its tempo this season, resulting in only three opponents scoring more than 70.
The Hawkeyes hold a 24-13 edge in the all-time series, claiming the last four meetings including last February in Lincoln, but this will be only their second true road game of the season. Nebraska is trying to avoid an 0-3 start in Big Ten play for the third year in a row.
–Field Level Media