Nebraska Basketball

Iowa forward Filip Rebraca (0) drives around Nebraska forward Derrick Walker, right, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022, in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa won 98-75. 

IOWA CITY — The Huskers say they want to run. They sell “pace and space” to recruits.

They got their wish Sunday against Iowa. And they couldn’t keep up.

Nebraska lost 98-75, marking nine straight road losses to their eastern neighbor.

The Hawkeyes scored 24 points off 15 turnovers. They scored 21 on fast breaks. And in the process, Iowa beat the Huskers at their preferred pace.

“We just didn’t play smart,” Hoiberg said. “It wasn’t an effort thing. We played out of control. I tried to get everybody in there, I just couldn’t find the right formula.”

Leading 15-11 after six minutes, the Huskers (7-19, 1-13 Big Ten) were outscored 42-10 over the next 14. NU scored six points over a nearly 10-minute span that featured rushed shots, missed layups — Nebraska shot 13 for 27 on layups — and ugly turnovers.

Meanwhile, Keegan Murray scored 12 straight points — eight on fast breaks — to give Iowa the lead. He scored 24 of his career-high 37 points in the first half on 9 of 14 shooting. That’s one fewer point than Nebraska managed on 15 more shots (9 of 29) at halftime.

“When they went on their run, obviously it unraveled,” Hoiberg said. “When it started going downhill, we panicked. We got faster when we needed to slow down.

“I thought we’d learned our lesson on that. We tried to play that hero ball where we tried to get it back at once.”

Hoiberg’s words feel like a metaphor for Nebraska’s year. After two losing seasons, this was supposed to be the year where Nebraska began to climb in the conference.

The Huskers recruited their highest-rated class in school history. They finally filled the roster with shooters. And the Big Ten appeared weaker (if still very deep).

Iowa (17-7, 7-6) figured into that equation.

The Hawkeyes lost Joe Wieskamp and national player of the year Luka Garza to the NBA last offseason. They returned one player — Jordan Bohannon — who averaged 20-plus minutes last season. Surely, the Hawkeyes would suffer a dip.

Wrong.

Iowa developed another star in Murray without a hiccup. The Hawkeyes appear NCAA tourney-bound for the fifth time since they hired Fran McCaffery in 2010.

Meanwhile the Huskers, who have made one tournament appearance with three coaches in the same span, are sinking further behind. Nebraska has lost six games by 20 or more points this season. That’s three more than they lost last season and the same number they lost during Hoiberg’s first year.

The first two years of disappointments came with built-in explanations. The roster wasn’t ready early. COVID-19 sunk their chances in Year 2.

Those safety nets don’t apply anymore.

A viral infection hurt the Huskers against Michigan and Auburn, but those losses no longer look like outliers. After Nebraska was embarrassed at home by Northwestern, Hoiberg said on the radio Monday that he was confident the Huskers wouldn’t lose “like that” again.

That promise lasted six days days.

Hoiberg said effort wasn’t Nebraska’s issue against Iowa as it had been during other blowouts, but the result stings the same.

Now Nebraska has five days to prepare for Friday’s home game against Maryland, which lost by one at Purdue on Sunday after allowing 110 points at home against Iowa two days earlier.

Hoiberg hopes the NU can mirror the Terrapins, who have lost five in a row and boast two more conference wins than his Huskers.

“They bounced back and showed pride,” Hoiberg said of Maryland. “We have to do the same. We’ve got to have a great week of prep. We’ve got to play 40 minutes of smart basketball.

“We did that against Minnesota; (it) paid off. ... We did not do that today.”