Isaac Copeland scored a season-high 24 points, but it was not enough as No. 24 Nebraska lost a battle of top-25 teams Sunday night, falling to No. 25 Iowa, 93-84, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Nebraska dropped to 11-4 on the season and 1-3 in the Big Ten after losing back-to-back games for the first time this season. Iowa (12-3, 1-3 Big Ten) picked up its first conference victory by scoring 93 points, the most Nebraska has allowed this season.
The 3-point line was a major factor, as Iowa made six more threes than the Huskers. Nebraska hit two of its first four 3-pointers but missed 17 of its final 19 attempts, connecting on just 4-of-23 from beyond the arc on the game. While the Huskers struggled to find their range, Iowa was 10-of-22 from the 3-point line, in addition to going 29-of-32 at the free-throw line. Nebraska made three more field goals and had five fewer turnovers than Iowa, but Iowa out-rebounded Nebraska by nine.
Copeland scored his 24 points in only 30 minutes, and he added six rebounds. James Palmer Jr. added 20 points and four assists, while Isaiah Roby hit 8-of-10 shots from the floor to finish with 17 points and nine rebounds. Thomas Allen rounded out the quartet of Huskers in double figures with 10 points to go along with four rebounds and four assists.
Nebraska trailed by four at the break, 44-40, after allowing its most first-half points this season. In a back-and-forth half that featured four ties and 10 lead changes, the Huskers out-shot the Hawkeyes, but Iowa went 10-of-11 at the free-throw line and out-rebounded Nebraska by nine. Copeland scored 10 points in the first 11 minutes before sitting for nearly all of the final 8:24 of the half after picking up his second foul.
Iowa built an early three-point lead by making four of its first five shots – including a pair of threes – before a 7-0 run put Nebraska on top 14-10 five minutes into the game. The teams then traded runs, with Iowa scoring six straight points and Nebraska responding with a 5-0 spurt to take a 19-16 at the 12-minute mark.
The Hawkeyes retook the lead at 27-24 with eight minutes left in the half. Iowa held the lead for the remainder of the half, building their first two-possession lead of the game at 35-30 that forced a Husker timeout at the 4:47 mark. The lead stretched to seven before Nebraska responded with five straight points. The Huskers trimmed the lead to one at 41-40 thanks to six points from Palmer in the final two minutes. Nebraska appeared headed to the break trailing by just one, but Iowa’s Jordan Bohannon banked in a long 3-pointer just before the first-half buzzer.
Nebraska, which never led in the second half, quickly pulled to within one early in the period before Iowa responded with a 10-2 run. The Hawkeyes capped the spurt with seven straight points in a little more than a minute to take a 56-47 with 15 minutes remaining. After the Huskers broke the run with back-to-back baskets from Roby, Iowa scored on three straight possessions to build its first double-digit lead at 62-51 with 13 minutes to play, forcing a Husker timeout.
NU scored four straight points before Roby was whistled for his fourth foul, putting two Husker starters on the bench with four fouls, along with Glynn Watson Jr. Despite the foul trouble, Nebraska turned up the defensive intensity and forced four Iowa turnovers during a 6-0 run that trimmed the lead to 67-63 at the eight-minute mark. But Iowa quickly stretched the lead back to nine.
Nebraska used another 6-0 run to pull within four before Bohannon answered with his fourth 3-pointer to give Iowa a 75-68 lead with five minutes remaining. The Huskers pulled back within five two minutes later on a Roby dunk, but Bohannon answered with another big three and Nebraska never got closer than six the rest of the way.
Bohannon, who scored 11 of Iowa’s final 13 points, hit five 3-pointers and led Iowa with 25 points on a night where all five Hawkeye starters scored in double-figures.
After playing its last three Big Ten Conference games on the road, Nebraska will play its first home game of 2019 on Thursday, when the Huskers host the Penn State Nittany Lions at 8 p.m. at Pinnacle Bank Arena.