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Iowa (15-14) at Nebraska (12-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 29th, 9:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bob Devaney Sports Center (13,595) -- Lincoln, Nebraska. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Iowa 13-5, Nebraska 9-7. Away Record: Iowa 2-8, Nebraska 3-8. Neutral Record: Iowa 0-1, Nebraska 0-0. Conference Record: Iowa 7-9, Nebraska 4-12. Series Record: Iowa leads, 12-8.
GAME NOTES: The Iowa Hawkeyes look to get back on track after a disappointing loss to Illinois, traveling to Bob Devaney Sports Center for a Big Ten Conference tussle with the Nebraska Cornhuskers this evening.
Iowa was flying high coming off back-to-back wins over ranked opponents Indiana and Wisconsin before faltering at Illinois Sunday in a 65-54 setback. The Hawkeyes did well to hang with the Illini after shooting a paltry 29.6 percent from the floor in the opening 20 minutes, but the hosts used a determined inside game and huge lift from the bench to hold on down the stretch. Illinois got a whopping 44 points from its reserves to just a single point from Iowa's bench. Matt Gatens led the Hawkeyes with 22 points, including a 5-for-6 showing from three-point range, while Roy Devyn Marble came up with 10 points and six assists. Iowa fell to 7-9 in Big Ten play with the loss.
Nebraska was embarrassed by then sixth-ranked Michigan State Saturday on the road, as the Spartans overwhelmed with a 23-2 second-half run en route to the 62-34 final. The Cornhuskers shot a lowly 26.9 percent in the first half to post just 15 points and trailed 48-19 at one point in the second half. Nebraska wound up shooting 29.2 percent for the game compared to MSU's 56.1- percent shooting clip. Brandon Ubel was high man for the visitors with 13 points as the Cornhuskers dropped their sixth game in seven tries to land at 4-12 in league play.
Iowa leads the series with Nebraska by a 12-8 count but the Cornhuskers picked up one of their four league wins in Iowa City January 26th by way of a 79-73 victory. The earlier matchup was the first between these two programs since 1976.
The Hawkeyes have one of the Big Ten's better offenses, averaging 72.7 points per game to stand third in the conference. Iowa also shoots a good percentage from the field at 45.1 percent, but the defense is the Big Ten's worst at 71.7 ppg allowed on a league-high 45.5 percent shooting. The senior Gatens is among the conference's top scorers with a 15.7-point average and adds a healthy 64 three-pointers on 34.8 percent shooting. Marble chips in 11.1 ppg and a team- high 3.8 assists while Aaron White puts up 10.3 ppg and leads the club in rebounding with 5.5 per contest. The Hawkeyes hold down a slight advantage on the boards overall (34.8-34.4) with Melsahn Basabe kicking in 5.0 per game in addition to 8.0 ppg. Zach McCabe adds depth down the line with his 7.5 ppg and 4.4 boards.
The Cornhuskers are on the opposite side of the coin when it comes to offense, posting a league-low 60.9 ppg on 43.1 percent shooting. The defense simply isn't good enough to overcome those numbers, surrendering 64.7 ppg and a 44.7 shooting percentage. Senior Bo Spencer is one of the few bright spots for NU, averaging 15.1 ppg and 3.4 assists while adding a team-best 50 three-pointers on 32.3 percent shooting. Spencer suffered an ankle injury in the first half against Michigan State and did not return. His status for Wednesday's game remains questionable. Toney McCray and Dylan Talley chip in with 9.8 and 8.8- point averages, respectively, while Ubel serves as the club's best rebounder with 5.3 per contest, shoots a team-high 49.2 percent from the floor and posts 6.3 ppg.
Nebraska's struggles are bad enough without the services of its top scorer. If Spencer is forced to miss the game, Iowa should have little trouble in improving its standing in the Big Ten with the regular season coming to a close.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Iowa 66, Nebraska 52
02/29 10:37:13 ET
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