That was crazy’: Down four starters, Husker men turn 16-point deficit into OT win over Iowa

That was crazy’: Down four starters, Husker men turn 16-point deficit into OT win over Iowa
World-Herald News Service

LINCOLN — It takes 27 steps to get from the courtside radio table to the edge of the tunnel at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

With each click of his brown leather shoes, Tim Miles’ eyes grew a little more red.

Amid the pandemonium of the postgame scene, Miles passed the spot on the floor where both Glynn Watson and James Palmer buried deep, contested 3-pointers in the final minute to send the home finale into overtime. He bisected the lane where Palmer scored to tie the game 81-81, and where Amir Harris scooped in the winner five minutes later to lift Nebraska over Iowa 93-91 in overtime.

With each click, the cheers grew louder. Miles stared down at the hardwood.

Call it No-Quit Sunday. Call it Miles’ Last Stand. Call it crazy or confounding or comical.

But find a name, because on Sunday, Nebraska turned a 16-point second-half deficit into a comeback that will be long remembered.

“That’s a special one,” Miles said.

On Senior Day, Palmer scored a team-high 27. Watson and Roby added 23 apiece. The Huskers made 10 of their final 11 shots, turned Iowa over 11 times in the second half and for the last time at home, injected a shot of hope into a season riddled with disappointment.

“Yeah,” Harris said bluntly. “That was crazy.”

A 10-0 run from Iowa to open the second half gave the Hawkeyes a 47-31 lead with 17:05 left.

From there, Nebraska chipped away.

Watson, who had 20 in the second half, hit a 3-pointer. Roby hit two more from deep. Palmer scored twice in 20 seconds off a steal and score. That cut it to 59-52.

“I never thought we’d lose the game,” Palmer said.

Though that’s a common cliche most players dish out after wins, the Huskers played like they believed it. Even after it felt like Iowa’s Jordan Bohannon was about notch another heartbreak in Nebraska’s bedpost.

Bohannon hit shots late to beat Northwestern and Wisconsin. On Sunday, he nailed a deep 3-pointer in Watson’s face with 2:36 left to put Iowa up 70-61.

But a minute later, walk-on Johnny Trueblood stole an inbounds pass and dished it to Roby, who dunked to make it 70-65 with 90 seconds left.

Nebraska made nine straight shots — from the floor and at the line — in the final 47 seconds to send the game into overtime.

“Credit Nebraska,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “Those kids made some tough shots.”

In the final five minutes, Nebraska was without four former starters. Roby had fouled out. Same with Tanner Borchardt. Isaac Copeland and Thomas Allen sat in street clothes, both out for the year with injuries.

In their place, Trueblood, Harris and Thorir Thorbjarnarson filled in.

Nebraska couldn’t have won without them.

Trueblood, who played a career high 26 minutes, secured a Joe Wieskamp miss with the game tied 91-91. Harris, who missed a month this season with mononucleosis, drove with the shot clock winding down and scored at the rim with 10 seconds remaining. With 2.5 seconds left, Iowa inbounded and found Bohannon, who had enough room for a 3 that would have won it. Thorbjarnarson, who has hardly played this year, swatted the shot into the air.

The ball landed, the buzzer sounded, Thorbjarnarson pointed toward the rafters and white jerseys collided on the crimson N at midcourt.

“Everybody had those big moments,” Miles said. “I’m just so proud of these kids.”

After a 16-15 regular season, and 13th-place finish in the Big Ten, Miles’ seat is hot. There’s a chance Sunday was his final home game.

He knew it. His players knew it.

The fans did, too. Which is why they stayed after the buzzer to watch Miles’ final walk.

For months, fans stood on the edges of the hardwood in the final minutes in disgust, electing to leave during play and drive through blistering cold instead of the watching another second.

But this time, they stayed. And with each click of Miles’ loafers, the throng near the tunnel grew louder.

Miles took his glasses off. His eyes welled up. He looked down at his shoes. Then finally raised his head and waved, his face scrunched fighting back tears.

The seventh-year coach then disappeared behind the black curtain and into the locker room, where he was mauled in hugs.

“I’ll remember this one forever,” Miles said.

Nebraska forward Amir Harris questionable for Big Ten tourney after knee injury

LINCOLN — Nebraska freshman Amir Harris might miss the Big Ten tournament after suffering a knee injury during Sunday’s win over Iowa.

Harris made the game-winning basket with 10 seconds left to seal NU’s comeback win. And he might’ve done it on just one good knee.

Nebraska coach Tim Miles confirmed Harris’ injury and said Harris will have an MRI on Monday afternoon. The freshman averages 2.2 points per game, but was expected to play more with Nebraska’s bench getting shorter.

If Harris is ruled out, he’ll join an injury list that already consists of former starters Isaac Copeland and Thomas Allen, both out for the season. Miles suspended forward Nana Akenten last week for a violation of team rules.