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Iowa couldn’t keep pace with the suddenly high-powered Cornhuskers

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Nebraska Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Same story, different day.

The Iowa Hawkeyes (11-12, 2-8) showed flashes but came up well short on the scoreboard - 98 to 84 - against the Nebraska Cornhuskers (16-8, 7-4).

It was a tight game for the first 11 minutes, as strong starts from Jordan Bohannon, Tyler Cook, and Cordell Pemsl had Iowa within a point at 25-24 with 8:49 to play. Despite Luka Garza going out with two early fouls, the Hawks were able to do almost anything they wanted inside behind Cook and Pemsl.

The contest remained close for the next three minutes, but Nebraska pulled away by capitalizing on empty Hawkeye possessions to go up 48 to 34 at halftime.

A weird moment happened just before halftime, though:

Credit to Jack Nunge for finding Isaiah Moss for the transition drive. When he couldn’t finish, however, Cook was displeased he didn’t receive the ball on an [open] rim run. Moss was having none of Cook’s gripes and walked away. Hmm...

Iowa didn’t let the weird final moments deter them coming out of the gates in the second half, as they looked great in closing it to a two-point game after a couple beautiful passes to Ahmad Wagner (once on a post-timeout play and another time in transition). Everything was coming up Hawkeyes.

Until James Palmer Jr. canned two deep threes, one off the bank board. After a couple Palmer free throws and a wide open three from Isaiah Roby, it was a thirteen point game and that’s all she wrote as the Hawkeyes weren’t able to get it inside ten points again.

The Hawkeyes never quit but too often looked like men against boys. Palmer and Isaac Copeland paced the Bugeaters with 28 and 23 points, respectively. Copeland went 4-5 from deep and was often the coda to any Iowa run. Iowa was not able to contain either and allowed Palmer 14 free throw tries (tying Iowa’s total). Nebraska went 27-36 overall.

Nebraska was able to turn their weakness on the boards into a strength, as they snagged 39% of their 28 misses to Iowa only getting 30% of 37.

Iowa played a clean game offensively, shooting 50% from the field and 43% from three to go with only 9 turnovers. The problem comes when opponents shoot better, especially significantly so. Nebraska shot 58% overall and from three.

Cook looked otherworldly at times and tied for the team lead in scoring at 24 with Ironman Jordan Bohannon, who played every second of the loss. Bohannon continued his sweet shooting on the road, as he went 6-11 from downtown, though it wasn’t enough.

After the weird interaction above, Isaiah Moss played only 6 second half minutes as Fran McCaffery opted to go big with Brady Ellingson out once again with a concussion. Maishe Dailey, Nicholas Baer, and even Dom Uhl notched minutes at the 2 by my count. None of those options really worked. After a good 14 minutes on Tuesday, Ahmad Wagner had just 7 tonight as Jack Nunge had 22. Nunge was tantalizing as he looked smooth shooting and displayed some high basketball IQ, but scored only 5 points on 1-5 shooting and looked slow guarding Palmer.

Credit goes to Nebraska, as they’ve turned preseason expectations on their head and are currently in line for a double bye in the conference tournament.

The defensive ills which plagued Iowa so far this season continued to do so tonight and will likely do so in the future.