The primary fear going into last night's game was that Iowa might take Nebraska lightly -- overlook them, in preparation for all the upcoming tough opponents they have on their schedule. Fortunately, this was not the case. The game started off looking that way, as Nebraska jumped out to a 10-0 lead by hitting a few threes and Tai Webster foreshadowing his monster game by penetrating Iowa's defense and connecting on multiple layups.
But Iowa eventually woke up, as Fran subbed in Dom Uhl and Nicholas Baer and brought out the 1-2-2 three-quarter court press. Iowa started forcing a few turnovers, Nebraska's offense fell into a funk, and Iowa's offense started to warm up a bit. And after starting the game down 10, Iowa went on a 15-5 run over the final 10 minutes of the first half to enter the locker room with a 9-point lead that Nebraska would never be able to overcome.
The second half was more of an offensive show for both teams. There were more possessions and more points, as Jarrod Uthoff and Mike Gesell were unstoppable for Iowa and Tai Webster took advantage of an Iowa defense that missed having a healthy Anthony Clemmons.
In the end, though, Iowa won by 11 and is 3-0 in conference play. It's a great time to be a Hawkeye, folks.
Four Factors in Review
First Half Points Per Possession: Iowa 1.04, Nebraska 0.74
First Half Possessions: 30
Second Half Points Per Possession: Iowa 1.37, Nebraska 1.31
Second Half Possessions: 34
Total Points Per Possession: Iowa 1.21, Nebraska 1.04
Total Possessions: 64
|Iowa||2pt Near Rim||2pt Jumper||3Pt FG||FT|
|Nebraska||2pt Near Rim||2pt Jumper||3Pt FG||FT|
Jump shots. Iowa took a lot of jump shots against Nebraska's defense, and that is why their eFG% was a little down from their season average. Most of that was Peter Jok going 1-6 on his long twos, but, again, this is the best shooting team that Fran McCaffery has had at Iowa, and this team can make enough of them that it doesn't always hurt them. Additionally, Nebraska has a serious fouling problem, and some of Iowa's attempts down low ended up turning into free throw attempts.
As for Nebraska, they were able to stay in the game because Tai Webster put on a clinic on how to get to the basket. He scored 12 of his 22 points at the rim and earned himself 8 free throw attempts on the night. Webster and Iowa went back and forth in the second half. Webster would get in the paint against Iowa's man defense on one possession, and then Iowa would switch to zone to take the lane to the basket away on the next. Unfortunately, Iowa's zone was not the answer in the second half, as Nebraska was hitting their threes.
Of course, Iowa has a great offense this year and Jarrod Uthoff and Mike Gesell took over and helped the Hawkeyes outscore the Huskers 46-44 in the second half, despite Nebraska putting up a 67% eFG% after halftime.
Neither team lost the ball much, nor did they force many turnovers in this one. That was a bit surprising, seeing how Iowa's defense had been turning people over at a high rate and Nebraska had been giving the ball away like a bad Christmas present. But when it came to capitalizing on them, Iowa scored 11 points off of their 9 takeaways (1.22 points per turnover), while Nebraska scored only 9 off of their 7 (1.28). The Huskers did technically average more points off of the turnovers they forced, but Iowa's advantage in the number of turnovers they forced was too much for Nebraska to overcome.
Offensive rebounding was an interesting category in this one. Iowa was able to use their height advantage to get some second chance opportunities. Dom Uhl had 3 offensive boards and Adam Woodbury grabbed 2, but Iowa also had 4 team offensive rebounds that went out of bounds off of Nebraska. The Hawkeyes only managed 8 second chance points off of their 12 offensive rebounds, though, which is less than ideal. Their only second chance basket in the first half came on this play after one of their 4 offensive team rebounds of the game:
But outside of that play, a couple free throws, and a Dom Uhl three, Iowa didn't really capitalize on their offensive rebounds this game.
Meanwhile, Iowa held Nebraska under their season average on the offensive glass, but still did let them hover around the Division I average in offensive rebounding rate. However, the Huskers managed just 7 points off of their 11 offensive rebounds, so Iowa won this category in percentage of rebounds and efficiency of use.
Free Throw Rate
We knew going into this game that Nebraska had a fouling problem, and they sure didn't disappoint. Now, the free throw total is skewed a bit thanks to Tim Miles intentionally fouling with under a minute left in the game and down double-digits -- which was quite annoying, by the way -- but Nebraska had plenty of guys in foul trouble all game long. Five Husker players had 3 or more fouls, while three guys reached 4, and Benny Parker fouled out. That's a lot. And Iowa took advantage by making 24 of their 32 attempts, including 11 of 13 shooting from Mike Gesell who should have pitched a tent at the line and made himself comfortable.
Nebraska found some success in the second half at drawing fouls, as Tai Webster and Shavon Shields initiated contact several times while they were attacking the basket. As a team, Nebraska went from 2 free throw attempts before the half to 14 after it. But they really struggled when they got there, making only 9 of their 16 attempts on the night. Shields was the main culprit, as he missed all 4 of his tries from the line.
So, for the second category in a row, Iowa won the frequency and the efficiency battle, which allowed them to take all four factors in this game.
Overall: Iowa Won all 4 Factors
This was the Jarrod Uthoff and Mike Gesell show, you guys. Both seniors had outstanding games and were too much for Nebraska to contain.
Uthoff scored 25 points on 19 scoring attempts on the night, and his scoring was as magically varied as it always is. He knocked down a couple of threes, a few fadeaway jumpers, and scored 10 of Iowa's 20 points in the paint, including the two-handed slam off the inbounds pass shown above. Iowa's Swiss army knife also threw in 8 rebounds, 4 blocks, 2 assists, and 1 steal on the night.
I made this plea in regards to Aaron White last season, but I need to make it again: do not take Jarrod Uthoff for granted. He is the most talented guy we've seen wear an Iowa uniform in ages, and I know we are all used to the amazing things he does. However, we only have a few months left to watch him in an Iowa uniform. Cherish these moments, folks. We have the third-ranked player on Kenpom's player of the year list on our team. We likely won't have the privilege to watch a player of this caliber on a regular basis for a long time.
In addition to Uthoff putting on his ridiculous show with the greatest of ease, Mike Gesell decided to remind Nebraska fans what they missed out on when he committed to Iowa four years ago instead of his home-state Huskers. Gesell frequently knifed through Nebraska's defense and got himself to the basket. That strategy also helped him earn his way to the free throw line quite a bit in the second half. He was the recipient of quite a few intentional fouls at the end of the game that inflated his free throw total, but he made them and they still count toward his point total. And Gesell scored 22 points on the night, while also dishing out 10 assists. This was the first double-double of his career, and it was well-deserved. He frequently found his teammates, including the aforementioned Uthoff. The dynamic duo hooked up for a nice half-court alley-oop layup in transition, and they also utilized the pick and roll.
Nebraska decided to switch their point guard on this play, and Uthoff made him pay by taking him him to work on the block.
Aside from those two, Dom Uhl continued to give Iowa some nice outside shooting, rebounding, and defense. That was helpful, since Peter Jok's shot wasn't falling. But perhaps the player that we should highlight is Anthony Clemmons. Iowa's defense missed Sapp last night, and he clearly wasn't healthy:
On this play, Clemmons appears to shy away from the contact of the screen, which slows him down and allows his defender to get past him. Uhl seemed surprised that Webster turned the corner on Sapp here, too which may explain why his help defense wasn't all that helpful. Although I'm sure he didn't want to lose Shavon Shields on the roll to the basket, either. Maybe I'm not giving Tai Webster enough credit for last night, but I think a healthier Anthony Clemmons helps shut that driving lane down. Luckily, Iowa didn't need him to win last night's game. But they will need him for Michigan State because he was pivotal in shutting down Bryn Forbes. He's got 9 days to rest, so let's hope he gets back to 100%.
So, that's that. Iowa overcame an early rough start on offense and a defense that was missing a key player and still won by 11. This team has talent, and they are going to need that talent over the next three weeks in which they play Michigan State, Michigan, Purdue, and Maryland. Two of those are at home, which is nice, but this will be a challenging stretch. I'm hoping they can take three of those games, but I will be happy with a split. Winning at least two of those games sets them up nicely for a back end of the schedule that lightens up a bit. Winning two or more of those games also sets them up nicely for a run at a Big Ten title.