CHARLOTTE, N. C. — Moe Iba resigned Friday night as head basketball coach at Nebraska immediately after the Cornhuskers' 76-59 loss to Western Kentucky in the opening round of the NCAA playoffs.
"I have resigned as head coach at Nebraska to pursue another head coaching job," said Iba, who has just completed 6 seasons at Nebraska after serving 4 as coach at Memphis State. "I resigned immediately after the game and that is all I care to say about the matter at this time."
Ray Swogger scored 16 points to lead a balanced attack and Western Kentucky survived a late rally by the smaller Nebraska team to win.
Western Kentucky, of the Sun Belt Conference, improved to 23-7 and faces the winner of Friday night's Kentucky-Davidson matchup in the second round Sunday. Nebraska, of the Big Eight, finished at 19-11 after its first-ever berth in the NCAA Tournament.
The Hilltoppers pounded the ball inside during a 16-4 second-half spree and led by as many as 18 points, but the Cornhuskers drew within 4 in the final minute. Western Kentucky sank 8-of-8 free throw attempts in the last 53 seconds, including six from James McNary, to ice the victory.
In other first-round Southeast Regional games, No. 20 Illinois downed Fairfield 75-51 to set up a second-round clash with No. 19 Alabama, a 97-80 victor over Xavier.
Western Kentucky played away from its distinct size advantage over the Cornhuskers in the first half, relying on a three-guard offense and perimeter shooting in assuming a 33-26 lead at the break. Swogger ended the half with a pair of jumpers.
The Hilltoppers pushed the ball inside at the outset of the second half. Kannard Johnson and Clarence Martin each tallied 6 points to ignite the 16-4 streak, resulting in a 49-32 lead with 13:19 remaining in the game.
Bernard Day scored 8 points, including two three-point plays, and Brian Carr and Chris Logan both added 4 during a 20-6 Nebraska surge that trimmed the lead to 59-55 with 1:34 remaining.
Billy Gordon scored 12 points and Martin added 11 for Western Kentucky. Day paced Nebraska with 18 points.