NO. 2 IOWA 21, NO. 11 NEBRASKA 11
LINCOLN — Nebraska junior TJ Dudley brought the Devaney Center crowd to life with his first-period pin in the 184-pound match.
Second-ranked Iowa had control of the Big Ten dual to that point, but suddenly the 11th-ranked Huskers cut their deficit to 15-11 with two matches left.
"That meet was probably a little more exciting than I wanted it to be," Iowa coach Tom Brands said. "I look at 84, that made it closer than it could have been. ... But things like that happen."
Iowa responded by earning close wins in the final two matches of a dual filled with tight decisions as the Hawkeyes picked up a 21-11 victory in front of 3,952, which set a school attendance record for a home dual.
Iowa, which improved to 13-0 in duals this season, won seven of the 10 matches. Five of Iowa's victories were by two points or less, while Nebraska got a one-point win from Anthony Abidin at 141 and a 2-0 victory from Austin Wilson at 165.
"We want to win all matches — close matches, we want to blow people out more," Brands said. "There's some points left off the board for us, but it's January and I'm sure (Nebraska is) saying the same thing."
Iowa junior Thomas Gilman, who is ranked second nationally at 125, opened the dual with one of the day's more decisive wins as he handled ninth-ranked Tim Lambert 11-4.
Gilman, who was a four-time state champion at Omaha Skutt, got takedowns in the first two periods to build a 6-2 lead and added two more takedowns in the match's final minute. Gilman also had a two-minute advantage in riding time.
"It was decent. I had two leg attacks that I didn't finish, so that's never a good thing. I obviously have some work to do," said Gilman, who spent time talking with family and extended family after the dual.
"I didn't get the bonus or major (decision), so that's something I'll have to reevaluate, too. If I would have finished some of those leg attacks, I probably would have gotten the major."
Getting bonus points have become the norm for Gilman. He improved to 17-0 on the season, with 14 of those wins coming either by pin, technical fall or major decision.
"I'm just going out there and scoring points," said Gilman, who placed fourth at nationals last season. "I'm not necessarily worried about winning or losing.
Last year I maybe was a little conservative, trying to eke out a win, but this year I'm dominating and putting points on the board."
Iowa won three of the next four matches to stretch its advantage to 12-2. That included a showdown at 149 as second-ranked Brandon Sorensen of Iowa edged fifth-ranked Jake Sueflohn 6-5.
Sueflohn, who lost 7-4 to Sorensen last month, led 4-3 after two periods. But Sorensen got an escape and a takedown with 1:10 left to move ahead 6-4. Sueflohn pulled to 6-5 with an escape with 50 seconds left, but couldn't get the decisive takedown.
Iowa's lead was 15-5 when Dudley recorded his fifth pin of the season. That match was scoreless midway through the first period when Dudley, ranked 11th at 184, got seventh-ranked Sammy Brooks in a cradle and ended it with a pin at the 1:40 mark.
But Iowa has six wrestlers ranked in the top seven nationally and two of them, Nathan Burak at 197 and heavyweight Sam Stoll, closed the dual with decisions to secure the Hawkeyes' victory.
The dual loss was Nebraska's third straight in the past 10 days. The Huskers, though, have gone through a brutal stretch. They lost last weekend 24-10 to No. 1 Penn State and 21-17 to defending national champion Ohio State.
Dudley said those matches will only make the Huskers better down the road.
"It's a process, that's what we're learning right now," Dudley said. "These matches matter, but in March, they don't.
It's about going out there and wrestling hard each match. It's not about the result tonight. It's about getting better so you can accomplish what you want in March."
NU is off until Feb. 5 when it hosts Illinois.