January 04, 2016

A pair of upsets propelled Iowa into the national rankings for the first time this season, and it will try to enhance its chances of remaining there by avoiding one at home against Nebraska.

Before another high-profile matchup, the No. 19 Hawkeyes will seek their best Big Ten start in 13 seasons Tuesday night.

Iowa defeated two ranked conference opponents in the same week for the first time since Jan. 19-22, 1987, when it topped former No. 1 Michigan State 83-70 at home last Tuesday and rallied from a 19-point deficit for a 70-63 victory at then-No. 14 Purdue on Saturday.

Jarrod Uthoff, the Big Ten's second-leading scorer at 18.1 points per game, had a team-best 25 in the latest win. Mike Gesell scored a career-high 25 in the victory over Michigan State.

The Hawkeyes (11-3, 2-0) were rewarded with their first spot in the rankings since checking in at No. 25 for the week of Jan. 19, 2015. They were subsequently knocked out after three consecutive defeats.

They'll try to avoid that fate this time by winning their only game this week. Iowa gets an eight-day break before its rematch at No. 5 Michigan State on Jan. 14, and is looking for its first 3-0 start in the Big Ten since 2002-03.

"It is just a bigger target on our back," center Adam Woodbury told the school's official website. "People always see the number and want to judge us by where we're ranked. It doesn't matter. You have to win, that's all that matters."

The Hawkeyes have won four straight over Nebraska and claimed two victories last season by a combined 39 points. They have won each of their past three home games against Nebraska by double digits, and will face a team that's started 8-7 and 0-2 in the conference.

"We're beyond taking anybody lightly," coach Fran McCaffery said.

The Huskers have a new leading scorer for this matchup in Kansas transfer Andrew White III (17.3 ppg). Shavon Shields, averaging 15.4, scored 25 in a 70-59 loss at Iowa on Jan. 5, 2015.

Coach Tim Miles' team, though, doesn't have another player scoring more than 8.9 per game and only four players are averaging 7.1 or better.

By contrast, Iowa has seven players averaging at least 6.0 points and is the second-highest scoring team in the Big Ten (81.7). One of those players, Anthony Clemmons, will likely be a game-time decision because of a hip injury suffered at Purdue.

Nebraska has struggled at the defensive end to start to conference play, allowing both its two opponents to shoot at least 50.0 percent and a combined 46.3 from 3-point range.

Indiana had the best shooting performance by a Huskers opponent in two seasons, connecting at 54.9 percent in a 79-69 victory Saturday. The Hoosiers went 9 of 18 from beyond the arc.

"We've got some younger guys, but I'm not using that as an excuse. We just need to keep going," freshman forward Jack McVeigh said. "Every game we are looking to get better. Now we need to learn from this game."

Nebraska has started at least 0-2 in each of its five seasons in the Big Ten and only avoided beginning 0-3 or worse last season.

This is the only scheduled meeting between the schools.

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