Brown: At Nebraska, Iowa needs to match Uthoff's road success

Rick Brown
Iowa’s Jarrod Uthoff has played some of his best basketball this season away from Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Iowa's basketball team will experience Pinnacle Bank Arena for the first time Sunday. And that's fine with forward Jarrod Uthoff.

"To be honest, I play better on the road most of the time," Uthoff said.

The truth is in the box score. Heading into Sunday's 2 p.m. game with Nebraska, Uthoff has averaged 16.5 points on the road in Big Ten play and 11.7 points at home. His top three scoring games in Big Ten play this season — 25 points against Northwestern, 22 against Minnesota and 18 against Ohio State — all came on the road.

Why the success away from Carver-Hawkeye Arena? Uthoff can't put his finger on it.

"There's something to it," Uthoff said. "I don't know what it is, though. It doesn't really matter."

What does matter is getting a fourth road win of the Big Ten season. The Hawkeyes, 7-6 in conference play and 16-10 overall, have work to do to polish their postseason resume.

Nebraska, the surprise of the Big Ten a season ago, started this year in the top 25 but has never found the magic that carried it to the 2014 NCAA Tournament. The Cornhuskers are 5-9 in the Big Ten, with losses in six of their last seven games, and just 13-13 overall.

Five of those six losses came on the road. This is a different team at Pinnacle Bank Arena, where Coach Tim Miles' team was 8-1 in Big Ten play a season ago and 5-2 this season.

"I keep hearing about how great it is," Iowa forward Aaron White said. "I know their fans are good. I'm looking forward to it."

Back in 1976, Iowa played in the first game ever held at the Devaney Center, Nebraska's former hoops home. The Hawkeyes left with a 71-57 victory. Iowa's last game at the Devaney Center wasn't as pleasant, a 64-60 loss when it frittered away a 19-point first-half lead and a 16-point advantage at halftime.

"We were winning most of the game by a lot, and we let it slip away," Iowa center Adam Woodbury said. "We're going to try and change a little history there."

Defense remains a Nebraska staple, despite its record. The Cornhuskers are second in scoring defense at 61.6 points a game in league play. Nebraska also has two dynamic point producers in Terran Petteway (18.3 points a game) and Shavon Shields (15.7).

Petteway or Shields had been the team's leading scorer in every Big Ten game until Walter Pitchford had 19 in a 69-65 loss at No. 16 Maryland on Thursday.

"Shields gets to his right hand every time," Uthoff said. "Petteway is very crafty, and he scores in bunches."

Despite the explosive production from Petteway and Shields, Nebraska is just 13th in the Big Ten in scoring at 57.6 points a game. The Cornhuskers are a stark contrast to Uthoff when it comes to success home and away. Nebraska has averaged 63.6 points a game at home in Big Ten play, but just 51.7 points on the road.

Iowa's defense needs to match the kind of success Uthoff has had on the road to make its first visit to Pinnacle Bank Arena a memorable one.

Hawkeye columnist Rick Brown is a 10-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year. Follow him on Twitter: @ByRickBrown.