Nebraska (16-8, 7-4 Big Ten) rolled over Iowa (11-12, 2-8 Big Ten) Saturday with a resounding 98-84 win. The Hawkeye defense isn’t elite by any stretch of the imagination, but the Huskers had quite the offensive performance.
Here are a few takeaways from the win.
Dynamo Performance on O
We knew what Iowa was coming in, but the Huskers needed this.
Over its recent two-game road trip, Nebraska’s offense looked stuck in the mud. The Huskers shot 39 percent from the field and missed 34 of their 47 3-point attempts. Things were different Saturday night, a good kind of different. Iowa’s league-worst defense conceded open looks from beyond the perimeter all night long as the Huskers’ hit 11 triples at a 58 percent clip.
They hit the most threes they’ve hit in over a month, they topped 70 points with over 10 minutes left in the second half and saw four players break double-digits scoring.
Guard James Palmer Jr. led the way offensively with 28 points on 7-of-12 shooting with 14 trips to the charity stripe. He even doled out a season-high five assists. Side note on Palmer: he’s playing at an All-Big Ten level for Nebraska right now, he’s been terrific in conference play.
Forward Isaac Copeland continued his torrid play with a 23-point, 11-rebound performance and guard Evan Taylor, who hadn’t sunk a 3-pointer since Dec. 29, knocked down a triple.
Iowa was giving up just over 76 points a night and allowing opponents to shoot 45 percent from the field and 36 percent from deep (gross) entering the game, so points were expected. But given the, we’ll say, adventures the Huskers have endured offensively this season it was still a good sign to see Nebraska put up it’s second-highest point total of the year and most since a 104-point showing against UTSA on Dec. 20.
For those wondering, Nebraska is now 13-2 when it scores 70 points or more in a game.
Welcome Back Jordy
The Huskers’ small-ball lineup was limited more than usual in this one by Iowa’s continued pressure down low and on the boards. Forward Isaiah Roby topped 30 minutes but he played a portion of those alongside center Jordy Tshimanga for the first time in a while as the big man saw the most run he’s seen since Dec. 22.
Tshimanga had perhaps his best performance of the season and easily his best game since returning from that two-game absence in early January. He supplied a season-high 11 points and eight boards, giving the Huskers 19 minutes inside as they tried to slow Iowa forward Tyler Cook.
They didn’t — Cook had 24 points and 10 rebounds — but credit him for continuing to be a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy season. Tshimanga on the other hand, should still get attention for his play.
It was clear fans in attendance wanted to give it to him, too. Every time he scored, Pinnacle Bank Arena roared. It was a nice sight to see given the way Tshimanga’s season has gone.
Nice Work, Now Move On
Nebraska won, and moved to 12-1 at home on the season, but there shouldn’t be any back-patting or chest-bumping after this one. The Hawkeyes are in the Big Ten’s basement and the Huskers have eyes for the tournament. This was a game they couldn’t possibly afford to lose.
And they didn’t, so job well done, but now they have to go win another one against Wisconsin on Monday. And then another after that against Minnesota on Feb. 6.
Will the Huskers be playing top-tier competition the rest of the regular season? No, but that doesn’t mean they can take the foot off the gas or start to celebrate. If the offensive explosion in this one is the start of a run, good, but it should be business as usual the rest of the way.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.