NU Basketball Practice, 07.02.2018

Nebraska head coach Tim Miles watches Nebraska run a play during a summer practice.

Things I know, and things I think I know:

You surely anticipated Sunday that the Nebraska men's basketball team would produce one of the most memorable games in the five-plus-year history of Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Yeah, right, I'll bet you did. 

But if you were among 12,391 spectators on hand, the game was one you won't soon forget.

Folks of course will remember the day because of Nebraska's remarkable rally -- it trailed Iowa by nine points with 50 seconds left in regulation before prevailing 93-91 in overtime. But it was more than just the rally that left an impression. This was a large and enthusiastic home crowd turning out for a Husker team that had lost 11 of its previous 13 games. Senior Day helped matters. The weather was gorgeous. Even so, this fan base often amazes me with its loyalty and hunger. This was a prime example. A shining example.

I mean, Nebraska finished 6-14 in the Big Ten. But the atmosphere at times felt like an NCAA Tournament bid was on the line.

"It was the loudest I've ever heard (the arena)," said Nebraska senior James Palmer, who finished with 27 points after hitting clutch shot after clutch shot late in the game.

Fellow senior Glynn Watson (23 points), who teamed with Palmer to lead the rally, wasn't surprised by the fans' roars.

"They're always here," he said. "It was a close game. It was going back and forth, and then we started making big shots. They really got into it. We needed that."

Anybody with a soul had to feel good for embattled Nebraska coach Tim Miles, whose team improved to 16-15. NU was supposed to be a surefire NCAA Tournament team. Its dramatic meltdown has taken a toll on fans. But they still arrived in droves for what very possibly was Miles' last game in the arena.

Talk about mixed emotions. I can't imagine what was going on in Miles' head after this one.

Crack a Coors Light (his favorite), Tim. You deserve it.

I mean, Nebraska trailed by 16 early in the second half. Miles' roster was depleted by injury and suspension. And the Iowa fans in the crowd -- it was difficult to tell how many because they were spread around the arena -- were in full throat. "Let's go, Hawks" echoed throughout the arena with 10 minutes left and the Hawkeyes leading by 10. The chants kept coming. It helped make the scene memorable.

It felt like, well, a rivalry.

"I thought our fans were awesome," Miles said. "It was so cool. Some of the Iowa fans probably made them mad with the Hawkeye chants. But our fans were there to support the kids and all of us, our program. I can't say enough. It was so loud. They blew the whistle a couple times and you couldn't hear it."

Yeah, that loud.

"It was really cool," Miles said. "Really cool."

He repeated it for emphasis. The scene was in some ways remarkable -- in part because of the rally but also because Nebraska fans were like the players. They wouldn't quit. They were on their feet with 6:13 left in regulation when Watson's three-pointer pulled the Huskers to 61-56 behind. The fun was just beginning. If you were there, you'll always remember it.

What a day. You just smile and shake your head. Loyalty was rewarded.

* The question seemed benign enough. Iowa coach Fran McCaffery's answer was succinct. But that answer was causing a stir with Hawkeye fans Sunday night.

How do you look at 10-10, a reporter asked the coach, referring to Iowa's final record in the Big Ten.

"In this league, it's tremendous," McCaffery said.

Problem is, Iowa (21-10) lost its fourth straight game and fifth in its last six. The Hawkeyes are a sure bet to make the NCAA Tournament but once were regarded as a five seed. Not now. McCaffery should be getting more out of this team. The Hawkeyes are deep in talent and have an excellent balance of inside players and perimeter weapons. At least that's my read.

"Those three guards are very good (Jordan Bohannon, Isaiah Moss and Joe Wieskamp) -- they can make threes -- and then you look at their versatile bigs," Miles said. "Luka Garza makes shots. They're shot makers. This is a shot-makers league. We know that because we haven't made enough shots."

"And they're physical inside with a guy like Tyler Cook," added Miles, referring to the 6-foot-9, 250-pound junior. "They wear you out because they get fouled. It's just their depth, their strength and they're shot-makers, too."

* While pondering the career of former Nebraska All-American center Tom Davis, who died last week at age 63, I was reminded of the days when Husker linemen often waited two years or more before they sniffed meaningful playing time.

An Omaha North graduate, Davis starred on the Nebraska freshman team in 1973 and redshirted in 1974 before getting playing time as a backup in 1975. His All-American season came as a senior in 1977.

Such a wait makes sense to Nebraska defensive coordinator Erik Chinander. He said it's often "a tough rodeo" for linemen to come in and play right away, in part because in high school they often were bigger and stronger than anybody else. Reality can hit quickly.

* Shaka Smart's having a devil of a time at Texas, which at 16-15 overall (8-10 Big 12) may miss the Big Dance. He was a high-profile hire in 2015 and is yet to win in the Dance. It's tough out there, amigos. You might even say it's madness.

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