Nebraska’s road — and defensive — woes continued on Sunday evening as the Huskers fell to Iowa 93-84 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa (12-3, 1-3) shot 10-of-22 from deep and 45.8 percent from the field overall as all five starters finished in double figures scoring. Iowa scored 29 fast break points. The Hakweyes only grabbed three more offensive boards than the Huskers (12 to nine) but they doubled them up in 18 to nine in second chance points and were plus-nine at the free-throw line.
Nebraska (11-4, 1-3) shot 4-of-23 from deep, making it tough to find points when Iowa threw a zone defense at the Huskers.
Isaac Copeland Jr. led the way with 24 points on 8-of-16 from the field and 7-of-8 from the line. James Palmer Jr. finished with 20 points and four assists but shot just 6-of-15 from the field (0-5 from deep) and turned the ball over five times. Isaiah Roby had 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting and nine rebounds in just 23 minutes while Thomas Allen Jr. chipped in 10 points.
Nebraska’s defense was a little late to arrive in Iowa City as the Hawkeyes hit four of their first five shots including two open 3s and a transition layup to take a 10-7 lead early.
Two buckets inside by Roby sandwiched around a Copeland 3-pointer put the Huskers up 14-10. Iowa responded with a 6-0 run of its own to retake the lead, aided by a switch to an aggressive zone defense that paid special attention to Palmer any time he caught the ball on the perimeter.
After taking just four shots for eight points in over 31 minutes against Maryland, the Huskers made sure to get Copeland involved early in the middle of the zone and the senior responded by hitting four of his first six shots for 10 points, giving Nebraska a 24-22 lead.
However, Iowa tied the game with a bucket inside by sophomore center Luka Garza then Tyler Cook pushed the ball off a missed 3-pointer and converted an and-one, giving Copeland his second foul and sending him to the bench with Iowa leading 27-24.
Garza, who wasn’t expected to play today, checked in and gave the Hawkeyes a spark, scoring six points in six minutes before returning to the bench.
Iowa got going again on offense late in the half, hitting six out of eight shots and a couple of free throws to pull ahead 37-30.
Watson got into the paint and dropped the ball off to freshman center Brady Heiman who made the extra pass to a cutting Nana Akenten for a layup to snap a three-minute scoring drought, then Palmer finally got on the board with a layup at the 2-minute mark after missing his first four shots. Palmer split a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to two, but Garza scored on the other end. The teams traded free throws, then Palmer got to the rim for a tough and-one to pull Nebraska within one with 3.2 on the clock.
After Palmer hit the free throw, Iowa got the ball in to Bohannon and he took it right up the court and banked in a floater from the 3-point line to give the Hawkeyes a 44-41 lead at halftime.
3.2 on the clock. Allen got himself out of position and Heiman couldn't get over in time to cut off Bohannon.
— Jacob Padilla (@JacobPadilla_) January 6, 2019
Copeland and Roby were limited to 10 minutes apiece in the first half because of foul trouble, and Tanner Borchardt picked up three as well which led the Huskers playing small with Brady Heiman at the five and Nana Akenten at the four for a good stretch.
The Hawkeyes outscored the Huskers 13-2 in the open court as the Huskers failed time and time again to get back and stop the ball. The Huskers didn’t do a great job of securing the defensive glass either as the Hawkeyes out-rebounded Nebraska 7-2 and outscored the Huskers 8-2 in second-chance points. Nebraska shot 3-of-13 from 3.
With the starters back on the floor, Nebraska pulled within one quickly with a 5-2 start including a bucket and a free-throw by Palmer, but Isaiah Moss answered with the 3. Roby tapped the ball out twice on the same possession which led to a foul on the ground, then Roby got a dunk off the ensuing possession to make it 49-47.
Iowa responded with a 7-0 run that pushed the lead to nine as the Huskers missed five straight shots. Roby ended the run with a put-back, but seven was as close as Nebraska could get over the following six minutes.
Watson picked up his fourth foul and took a seat, then Iowa took its first double-digit lead at 62-51 with just over 13 minutes to play. The teams went back and forth with both Roby and Borchardt joining Watson with four fouls.
Nebraska scored six straight — three by Palmer, three by Copeland — to pull within four, but Cook hit a pair of free throws, Palmer missed a 3 and Bohannon hit a bomb on the other end.
Copeland led another surge by Nebraska that cut it to four again, but Watson gambled trying to pick off a skip pass and missed. Bohannon let Watson fly by then nailed a 3-pointer to stretch it back out to seven.
The Hawkeyes maintained a two- to three-possession lead over the next three minutes as the Huskers simply couldn’t string together enough stops and scores to get over the hump. Copeland hit a tough shot with 2:24 to play, but Bohannon hit a dagger and the Hawkeyes closed the game out at the free-throw line.
Nebraska falls to 1-3 in true road games with all three losses coming in conference play.
The Huskers will get a chance to regroup at home as Penn State will swing through Lincoln on Thursday for an 8 p.m. CT tipoff at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.