Jan. 5, 2015
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — It’s fitting the night senior Aaron White became the University of Iowa’s record holder for career free throws, the Hawkeyes made 31-of-38 free throws to down Nebraska, 70-59, and improve to 2-0 in the Big Ten for the first time in 12 seasons.
“So much of the game plan, we were locked into,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “We wanted to drive the ball, run, and throw it inside. Thirty-eight free throws, that’s terrific. We wanted to move the ball side-to-side and share the ball, and we did that.
“(Against a team like Nebraska), your energy level and concentration have to be constant every possession, and it certainly was down the stretch. I’m proud of the guys there.”
The Huskers overcame a seven-point halftime deficit, trimming the lead to 37-36 over the first four minutes of the second half before taking their first lead since early in the game, 51-50, on a pair of Shavon Shields free throws with 8:09 remaining.
“Nebraska doesn’t go away,” said McCaffery. “They play hard and defend. You have to keep making plays and keep making shots.”
The Hawkeyes used a 17-6 run to close out the game with White leading the charge with 10 points. Junior Jarrod Uthoff and Anthony Clemmons opened the spurt with back-to-back 3-pointers before two White free throws gave Iowa a 58-53 lead with 5:54 to play.
Following two Terran Pettaway free throws, White drained a 3-pointer from the left wing to stretch the lead to 61-54, but the Huskers kept battling.
Shields made three free throws to make the score 61-57 with 2:43 remaining, but the Huskers couldn’t buy a bucket to close out the game, going two for their last 14, including missing 10-straight shots to end the game.
Nebraska finished with a 46 percent field goal percentage, making 22-of-48 attempts for the game, while Iowa shot 39 percent, connecting on 17-of-44 field goals. The Hawkeyes made five 3-pointers (5-of-20) to two for the Huskers (2-for-14), but the difference came at the free throw line, where Iowa went 31-of-38; Nebraska was 13-of-21.
Iowa’s frontcourt trio of White, Uthoff, and senior Gabriel Olaseni combined for 80 percent of the Hawkeyes’ scoring.
White notched his third 20-point game, finishing with 23 points, making 5-of-10 field goals and 12-of-15 free throws. He passed Roy Marble as Iowa’s most prolific free throw shooter late in the first half, and currently has a school-record 524 career makes.
Iowa went to Olaseni throughout the game in the post and he produced, scoring a career-high 18 points courtesy of a career-best 12-of-13 performance from the free throw line. Uthoff finished with 15 points and seven boards.
“We made a concerted effort to go inside, try to get to the free throw line,” said McCaffery. “Gabe is playing with such confidence offensively, with his free throws. It’s great to see. You can see he’s playing with great confidence.”
Shields led a pair of Huskers in double figures with a game-high 25 points on 9-of-18 shooting. Petteway, Nebraska’s leading scorer at 19.5 points per game, was limited to 11 points, making 4-of-9 field goals.
The Hawkeyes led 35-28 at the break thanks in part to a 15-of-19 first-half performance from the free throw stripe. Nebraska shot 57 percent from the floor, making 12-of-21 attempts, but went just 2-of-6 from the line.
After playing to a 15-all tie over the first 10 minutes of the game, Uthoff and Walter Pritchard traded 3-pointer to tie the game at 18 — the third tie of the night. The Hawkeyes followed with a 7-0 spurt behind an Olaseni jumper, a three-point play from White, and a steal and fast-break layup from Uthoff to give Iowa a 25-18 lead with 7:12 left in the half.
The Huskers fought back to within a possession, trimming their deficit to 29-26 on a Benny Parker layup with 3:52 remaining before Iowa scored six of the final eight points of the half, including a three-point play from White with 52 seconds left that saw the forward break the record.
Iowa (11-4, 2-0) returns to action Thursday, hosting Michigan State at 6 p.m. (CT) on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.