No. 19 Iowa holds off Nebraska 77-66
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) Iowa's first performance as a Top 25 team wasn't nearly as pretty as the ones that landed it in the rankings.
The Hawkeyes won anyway - and now they have over a week to prepare for a rematch with Michigan State, which they knocked out of the No. 1 ranking.
Mike Gesell had 22 points and 10 assists for his first career double-double with the surging Hawkeyes (12-3, 3-0 Big Ten). They have victories in nine consecutive league games dating to last season.
Gesell ''needed to be great because (starting guard Anthony Clemmons) clearly wasn't himself,'' Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said of Clemmons, who was held scoreless while struggling through a hip pointer. "It took a lot for us to get this win and it was all experience.''
Iowa survived a sluggish start to the second half with a late 9-0 run, capped by a long 3 by Uthoff, to go ahead 63-48 with 7:15 left.
''The competition is good. But I want to see us now, and I want to see us at the end of the year,'' Nebraska coach Tim Miles said.
The Hawkeyes surged into the Top 25 on Monday after beating two ranked teams, including then-No. 1 Michigan State, in the same week for the first time since 1987.
The pressure defense Iowa used to rally from a 19-point deficit to win at Purdue on Saturday came in handy again versus Nebraska.
The Huskers could hardly miss in their first few possessions, storming ahead 10-0. The Hawkeyes responded by defending the full 94 feet, and within a few minutes they were in front 19-17.
''Once we got into it we stayed into it because we got them a little sideways,'' McCaffery said of the press. ''When we got the lead, we didn't panic.''
The Hawkeyes didn't have a ton of trouble the rest of the way, though the Huskers didn't make it easy on them.
Iowa hit eight of 10 baskets during a 12-0 run late in the first half - while holding Nebraska to 4-of-24 shooting at one point - to go up 31-22.
Nebraska briefly got within eight points midway through the second half. But Uthoff's 3 and a one-handed jumper from Gesell put Iowa ahead by 16 points with just over 4 minutes left.
Nebraska: The Huskers went scoreless over the final 7:35 of the first half. ... Jack McVeigh, who matched a career high with 16 points in his last game, scored five points on 2-of-9 shooting.
Iowa: Uthoff entered play ranked fourth nationally with 3.3 blocks per game. ...The Hawkeyes went 24 of 32 from the free throw line. ... Reserve Dom Uhl had 10 points and eight rebounds.
Gesell has notched career highs in nearly every statistical category this season, and his versatility keyed the Hawkeyes on Tuesday. He had 22 points on 5-of-7 shooting and was 11 of 13 from the line. He had four rebounds.
Miles, as is his custom, tweeted at halftime that ''When we get a open look we have to knock it down. We also have to get into the lane on offense and contain Uthoff on defense.'' The Huskers did much better on offense after halftime, but Uthoff hit a bunch of key shots in the second half.
Nebraska plays Rutgers on Saturday.
Iowa gets a rematch with No. 5 Michigan State on Jan. 14.