IOWA CITY, Iowa - Iowa left Des Moines late last month with an embarrassing loss to in-state rival Northern Iowa. The Hawkeyes' outlook appeared bleak.
A few short weeks later, Iowa apparently has fixed its problems. Few people outside the locker room saw it coming.
The Hawkeyes knocked off Nebraska, 70-59, Monday night at a mostly empty Carver-Hawkeye Arena. A snow storm in the area kept people from the game.
"Every win in this league is so hard, especially this year," Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. "You look at every game, there's just not going to be one that's easy. Every game is going to be unique, whether it be a grind-it game, a more wide-open game."
Iowa moved to 2-0 in the Big Ten for the first time since the 2002-03 season. That conference start looked unlikely after a six-point second-half in a 56-44 loss to UNI, which followed a 90-75 blowout to Iowa State at home.
Aaron White paced the Hawkeyes with 23 points Monday. The senior connected on 12 of 15 free throw attempts and pulled down a team-high nine rebounds.
The Hawkeyes (11-4 overall) also received 18 points from senior center Gabe Olaseni. Teammate Jarrod Uthoff chipped in with 15 points and seven rebounds. The junior from Cedar Rapids Jefferson connected on a huge three-point with the game in the balance late in the second half.
Scrappy Nebraska (8-6 overall, 0-2 Big Ten) hung within striking distance of the lead for most of the night before jumping ahead, 51-50, with 8:09 to play in the game on a pair of Shavon Shields free throws. The teams exchanged missed shots before Uthoff and reserve guard Anthony Clemmons regained the momentum for the home team.
Uthoff splashed in a three-pointer from the left wing with 7:11 on the clock to put Iowa ahead by two. Shields hit two more foul shots to tie it before Clemmons knocked down a triple from the left corner for a 56-53 Hawkeye edge at the 6:30 mark.
Clemmons' big basket sent Iowa on a 17-6 run to finish the game. Nebraska missed its last 10 field goal attempts.
"Uthoff's three was huge. Clemmons' bucket. Clemmons' three. Obviously Gabe's free throws. Gabe's impact at both ends. There were a lot of guys that came up big in this one," McCaffery said.
Iowa shot 31 of 38 from the foul line for the night while the Huskers were 13 for 21 from the stripe. The teams combined to shoot 7 of 34 from the three-point arc.
The Hawkeyes return to action Thursday night (6 p.m. CT, ESPN) when they play host to Michigan State (10-5, 1-1).