The freshman got into early foul trouble in a double overtime loss at Nebraska. Chad Leistikow / The Register
LINCOLN, Neb. — The young Iowa basketball team — if nothing else in a two-overtime game Thursday night — got another good taste of life on the road in the Big Ten Conference.
That’ll have to be the silver lining to a tough 93-90 loss to surprising Nebraska before a razzed-up crowd of 14,939 at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
When Brady Ellingson's 3-pointer as time expired fell short, so did the Hawkeyes' shot at their first road win of the season.
They had their chances in regulation and in both overtimes.
“We should’ve won. It hurts," said freshman forward Tyler Cook, who scored 14 points. "We had a lot of opportunities to close it out, and we couldn’t do it.”
Iowa had the ball with a chance to win at the end of all three periods.
In regulation, with the score 74-74, Peter Jok tried to square up a shot along the baseline but the ball flew away from Nebraska's Jeriah Horne. Jok contended he had some help.
"I got fouled. He smacked my hand," the Big Ten's leading scorer said. "They said I lost the ball. But I don’t know how to lose the ball without somebody hitting me. They were playing aggressive all game. It could’ve went either way. They played good defense, I guess."
Iowa seemed to have the upper hand late in the first overtime, with Jordan Bohannon’s step-back 3-pointer giving the Hawkeyes an 83-79 lead with 1:37 left. That four-point lead held until the final minute, but Nebraska's Tai Webster was sent to the line for four free throws, and he made them all, to force another five minutes.
In the second overtime, Iowa had the ball down one, 91-90. But Isaiah Moss hurried the possession, driving the lane and losing the ball out of bounds with 18 seconds left.
“Just being aggressive," Moss said. "If I could take it back, I would. I should’ve held the ball. I’ll learn from it. I’ll be better next game."
Horne answered with two free throws on the other end, and Bohannon's forced baseline fade-away was short.
Iowa got one last hurried possession — Ellingson's heave — after Evan Taylor missed two free throws.
The game wouldn’t have gotten to one overtime without two things: Jok and missed Cornhusker free throws.
Jok scored 30 of his 34 points after halftime, before fouling out with 54 seconds left in the second overtime.
Jok scored 16 straight Iowa points late in the second half, burying an impressive array of 3-pointers and driving layups. Every time the senior from West Des Moines put one in, the fiery crowd went silent.
It was his fourth 30-point game of the season, but he lamented that whether he was on or off the court, the Hawkeyes (who, for the second game in a row, started four freshmen) couldn't make finishing plays.
The senior had 34 points, 30 after halftime, at Nebraska. Chad Leistikow / The Register
“When you call plays, we’ve got to execute," Jok said. "Down the stretch, I don’t think we did that. Part of it is young guys being young, not being in this position before. But we’ve got to learn from it and get ready for Sunday.”
Taylor gave the Hawkeyes life by missing two free throws with 1.3 seconds left in regulation with the score tied, 74-74, when he was fouled after the no-call steal on Jok. Making one would’ve won it.
But the Cornhuskers moved to 3-0 in conference play for the first time in 40 years. Their reaction? Like everyone's: Exhaustion.
“I just want to go home, to be honest," Webster said. "I can’t feel my legs, they were cramping the whole second half. I was done in the second half, really."
Iowa, meanwhile, fell to 9-7 overall and 1-2 in the Big Ten with a Sunday home game against Rutgers (3:30 p.m., BTN) on deck.
A sloppy-at-times first half for the Hawkeyes could’ve been much worse.
Bohannon, whose assists-turnovers ratio in Big Ten play hadn’t been computable because you can’t divide by zero, committed three of Iowa’s six first-half turnovers.
Jok was held to four points on 2 of 8 shooting.
Cook (14 points) sat for the final 14:29 of the first half after picking up his second foul.
Nebraska, which ranked 310th nationally in 3-point percentage (30.6), fired in five of 11 attempts from long range (45.5 percent).
Yet, despite all of that, the Hawkeyes’ halftime deficit was only 37-34.
Moss was the big reason. The redshirt freshman, who had scored seven points in his first two Big Ten games, used a variety of smooth jump shots and driving layups to rack up 15 first-half points. He finished with 17.
Moss seemed ignited after being sent to the bench by McCaffery after Nebraska raced to a 12-6 lead. Moss returned, replacing Jok, and scored 11 points during a 13-2 Iowa run that turned a 15-8 deficit into a 21-17 lead.
Nebraska guard Glynn Watson Jr. continued his ascent on the Big Ten scene. The scrappy 6-foot sophomore scored 34 points, including 7-of-8 shooting from 3-point range, before fouling out. Webster finished with 23 points for Nebraska, and Waukee native Michael Jacobson added a career-high 13 rebounds.
Iowa, meanwhile, must regroup for a quick turnaround and after playing its second straight overtime game, this one with a different result.
“The message is always to stay positive. You win an overtime game on Sunday (at home against Michigan), you’re sort of ecstatic," McCaffery said. "But it doesn’t mean you played a perfect game. You lose a game in overtime, it doesn’t mean that everything is a disaster."
The Iowa coach speaks after a 93-90, double-overtime loss to Nebraska. Chad Leistikow / The Register