By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa men’s basketball team won for the third time in as many games, downing Nebraska, 81-70, Sunday afternoon on Mediacom Court.
The Hawkeyes led for the duration of the second half before putting the game away late. Iowa led 67-64 with 3:57 remaining; the 11-point margin was the Hawkeyes’ biggest lead.
Iowa is 14-10 overall and is in sixth place in the Big Ten standings with a 6-5 record.
“They finished us off,” said Nebraska head coach Tim Miles. “When there was still a chance with four minutes, we missed an open 3 to cut it to two. They didn’t miss their open 3s. That’s the difference in some games.”
That was a big difference Sunday.
Iowa outscored Nebraska by 18 points from the 3-point line. The Hawkeyes made 9-of-19 3-point field goal attempts and shot 46.6 percent for the game. Nebraska was 3-of-20 from distance and shot 42.2 percent from the floor.
Freshman Jordan Bohannon and sophomore Brady Ellingson combined to make seven of Iowa’s nine 3-point field goals. Bohannon led the Hawkeyes with 15 points; Ellingson scored 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting. All of Ellingson’s points came in the second half.
Freshman Tyler Cook added 13 points and senior Peter Jok scored 12 in his return to the court after missing two games because of injury.
“It’s all about ball movement, screening, and recognition,” said McCaffery. “How to get the ball to those guys and be locked in to who is hot? Who are our shooters?’ You have to find Jordan, Brady. Brady was cooking; you have to get him the ball.”
Iowa displayed the same unselfishness as a team as it did in the two games without Jok. The senior guard was reinserted into the lineup Sunday, and the Hawkeyes’ winning recipe was the same. Iowa had 22 assists on 27 field goals; 10 different players had at least one assist.
“That’s where it all starts,” said McCaffery. “That’s a team that came in here ready to defend; they got after Pete, they got after Jordan, and they got after us early. They were physical.
“If you’re going to score against that, you have to move the ball.”
Nebraska sizzled in the first half, shooting 57.7 percent, but it still trailed 38-36 at the break. Iowa had opportunities to pull away in the second half, but the Huskers hit the glass to give themselves a chance.
Nebraska won the battle on the glass, 41-33, and had 16 offensive rebounds. Iowa weathered the storm with timely 3-point shooting and made its free throws.
Bohannon hit a 3-pointer early in the second half to push the Iowa lead to 46-42 — a triple that gave him the school record for 3-pointers by a freshman. Ellingson extended a 50-48 lead to five with a 3-pointer at the 12:27 mark for his first points of the game.
Iowa led 58-52 at the 10-minute mark before Nebraska closed the gap to 58-57. Ellingson proceeded to score five straight for the Hawkeyes and a Cook dunk made it 65-59 with 6 1/2 minutes left.
“We knew their bigs were good offensive rebounders and it was going to be a battle every time the ball came off the rim,” said sophomore Nicholas Baer. “I was proud of how we competed down the stretch because they got a few offensive rebounds and put-backs to keep them in the game.”
After giving up 47 points to Tai Webster and Glynn Watson, Jr., in the road loss in Lincoln on Jan. 5, the Hawkeyes limited the duo to 17 points — 14 from Webster and three from Watson.
Jack McVeigh led all scorers with 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting, and Jordy Tshimnaga scored 10 points and had eight rebounds in a foul-plagued 17 minutes.
Iowa returns to action Wednesday, facing Minnesota at 8 p.m. (CT) at Williams Arena.