IOWA CITY — Nebraska lost its third straight Big Ten road game on Sunday in a 93-84 loss to Iowa.
Iowa’s 3-2 zone bothered Nebraska all night, and slowed down James Palmer Jr., the second-leading scorer in the Big Ten. He finished with 20, but scored most of those in the second half. NU was led by Isaac Copeland, who scored 24.
Nebraska (11-4, 1-3) shot 46 percent from the floor, but was 4 for 23 from 3-point range.
Iowa’s Jordan Bohannon buried Nebraska with 5 3-pointers, three of which came late in the second half to keep the Huskers at bay. He finished with 25 points, 22 of which came in the second half.
Sunday was Iowa’s first win in the Big Ten. They’re now 12-3, including 1-3 in conference play.
Both teams came out hot. Iowa hit its first two 3-pointers and Nebraska had four different scorers in the first four minutes. Iowa led 10-9 at the first media timeout.
An Isaiah Roby jam punctuated a 7-0 run by Nebraska to take a 14-10 lead. But Iowa made three of its first five 3-pointers, and Iowa’s Tyler Cook came out looking to attack. He had five points early.
With Nebraska up 17-16 at the under 12 timeout, 6-foot-10 Iowa sophomore Luka Garza checked into the game. He’d not played in three games due to an ankle injury. And he was effective, scoring eight points in the first half and grabbing two rebounds.
With about 15 minutes left in the half, Iowa dropped into a 3-2, matchup zone that threw Nebraska off its game. Quick and wacky shots from Glynn Watson and Thomas Allen led to an Iowa run. The zone was heavily focused on James Palmer, who had at least two Iowa defenders on him every time he got the ball. He had just two shots in the first 13 minutes with zero points.
Nebraska attacked the zone through the high post, which led to 10 early points for Isaac Copeland. Iowa, meanwhile, attacked Nebraska’s bigs on the offensive end scoring 16 of its first 27 points in the paint. That also lead to two early fouls on Copeland and Roby, and three on Tanner Borchardt. All sat for most of the second half, which took away Nebraska’s high-post game.
Iowa pulled out to a 37-30 lead after Nebraska struggled to score on that zone. Palmer tried to get going by getting to the free-throw lane, but couldn’t find a whistle. Surrounding Palmer, Nebraska forced guarded 3-point shots that didn’t fall. The Huskers were 3 for 13 from deep in the first.
Then, finally, Palmer started finding gaps in the zone and scored six points in the final four minutes. A buzzer-beater by Jordan Bohannon put the Hawkeyes up 44-40 at halftime.
Nebraska came out and immediately found some success inside with a Copeland hook shot and a Watson jumper.
But the Huskers went cold, missing six out of seven shots, while Iowa went on a brisk 7-0 run to gain some separation. A 3-pointer from Bohannon gave Iowa its biggest lead so far at 56-47 with a little less than 16 minutes left.
Nebraska dropped into a 1-3-1 zone and the Huskers cut an 11-point Iowa lead down to six thanks to a few Hawkeye turnovers. An and-1 put back from Copeland made it 67-63. But two free throws from Cook and Iowa eighth 3-pointer of the night to bumped it back up to nine.
That was a trend. Nebraska got within four after a Copeland layup, but Bohannon hit his fourth 3-pointer of the game to keep NU at bay.
A Copeland fallaway cut it to five with 2 minutes left. Bohannon again made a 3, sealing the win.