IOWA CITY — This looks like less than an inopportune time for Nebraska to come to Iowa for a men’s basketball game.
The fact the Huskers have lost seven straight games and are winless on the road in the Big Ten is ominous enough. So is Iowa’s perfect record in conference home games.
Then, throw in the fact Iowa is coming off a humiliating 104-68 loss at Purdue Wednesday night.
“I’m extremely excited,” Iowa guard CJ Fredrick said Friday. “I hate looking back, but I don’t think I’ve played in a basketball game where I’ve been that embarrassed and I don’t think I’ve ever been ready to play a game like I’ve been ready to now.”
There’s even more fuel for a potential Hawkeyes fire when they host Nebraska Saturday at 5 p.m. Iowa virtually gave a game to other first-division Big Ten teams when it lost 76-70 at Nebraska on Jan. 7. The Huskers are 2-9 in the league. Iowa is 7-5, two games out of first place in the loss column. Is it thinking revenge?
“I don’t believe in that, no,” said Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery. “It’s kind of, respect your opponent. We went in there and they beat us. They played better than us that night. OK? What do we have to do to play better when we play them the next time? What do we have to do better than we played in the last game?”
That’s easy for an adult who has been around the college basketball block for decades to say. Tell it to Iowa’s Luka Garza, whose only non-20-point performance in 2020 was in Lincoln, primarily because the Huskers double- and triple-teamed him all night while his team shot a horrid 4-of-33 from 3-point distance.
He didn’t say it with bravado, but Garza basically dared Nebraska Coach Fred Hoiberg to use a similar defensive strategy Saturday.
“I definitely hope they play us the same way,” Garza said, “especially at home. They can try that out. I don’t think that’s going to work this time, personally. I have a lot of confidence in our shooters.”
Fredrick, 48.2 percent from 3-point range, didn’t help lay that shooting egg in Lincoln. He was unavailable that game with a stress reaction in his left foot. But he has his own fuel, which was being involved in Wednesday’s debacle at Purdue.
The Boilermakers made 63.1 percent of all field goal tries and were 19-of-34 from behind the arc.
“Not fun,” Fredrick said. “We just didn’t do anything right.
“I don’t think any of their shots hit the rim, to be honest with you. Every shot was all net. A couple of loose balls were kicked and went right to the guy for a dunk. But that’s on us. We didn’t come prepared, and we’re not going to let that happen again.”
Fredrick and his teammates are seeing red, which just happens to be the color the Huskers will wear here.
“After a game like that, you almost want to play the next day,” said Fredrick. “You don’t want that taste in your mouth going on too long.”
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