After-thoughts from Iowa’s 93-91 overtime loss to Nebraska:
--After its recent offensive struggles, Iowa executed much more crisply at that end of the court Sunday, shooting 56 percent from the field in the second half, making 10 3-point field goals and getting to the line 32 times. The Hawkeyes scored 81 points in regulation, which should be enough to win most games. Luka Garza really came to life after scoring only 54 points in the previous eight games. His final total of 25 points matched his career high.
--One area in which the Hawkeyes really improved was in how they started in both halves, something that has been a major problem lately. They scored on five of their first six possessions at the outset of the game, then went on a 10-0 run to open the second half.
--Even the Iowa defense wasn’t really too bad until the end of the game. Nebraska had only 65 points with a minute to go in regulation and at that point James Palmer and Glynn Watson had only 14 points apiece. They combined to score 22 points after that, however — 14 of the Cornhuskers’ 16 points in the final minute of regulation and 8 of the 12 in overtime. As Luka Garza admitted, the Hawkeyes did a terrible job of making someone other than Palmer and Watson beat them.
--This loss becomes a little more embarrassing when you take a close look at the team Nebraska put on the floor Sunday. No. 2 scorer Isaac Copeland is out of the season and another starter, Thomas Allen, was sidelined by an ankle injury. The team’s top sub, Nana Ekenten, is suspended. And the Cornhuskers probably had less depth than any team in the Big Ten to begin with. Senior walk-on Johnny Trueblood was forced to play 26 minutes after playing only eight minutes in Big Ten play all season. Thorir Thorbjarnarson, who averages less than nine minutes per game, played 17 in this one.
--Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said junior forward Tyler Cook made “a step in the right direction’’ after failing to score Thursday at Wisconsin. It was a fairly small step. Cook finished with nine points and nine rebounds but he was 2 for 8 from the field and 5 for 11 at the free throw line. His only two field goals came near the end of the first half, ending a stretch of 60 minutes, 26 seconds of game action without a made field goal.
--McCaffery was asked after the game what he thought of his team finishing with a 10-10 record in the Big Ten regular season. “In this league, that’s tremendous,’’ he said. Not all of his players were quite so enthusiastic about it. “It’s an improvement but we feel like it should have been even better,’’ Cook said.