Iowa men use youth, experience to defeat surging Cornhuskers
Senior guard Tony Perkins records career-high 15 assists in 94-76 victory
IOWA CITY, Iowa – An impressive blend of youth and experience helped to propel the Iowa men’s basketball team to a much-needed 94-76 victory over surging Nebraska at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Freshman forward Owen Freeman and sophomore guard Josh Dix both recorded career highs in points with 22 and 16, respectively, while senior guard Tony Perkins dished out a career-high 15 assists in the win.
Iowa entered the game with a 1-3 record in conference play, while Nebraska was coming off a victory over top-ranked Purdue.
The Hawkeyes played with a sense of urgency, bolting to a 17-2 lead.
Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery shifted to a two-three zone defense that was highly effective in the second half as Nebraska struggled to shoot from the perimeter.
“I thought we played great on defense the whole game,” Freeman said on the Big Ten Network post-game interview. “We had a little lapse there in the first half, and that allowed them to get more energy.
“But the two-three was great. It was coach’s decision, and it was great decision.”
Freeman made 11-of-13 shots from the field, and one of his two misses was a missed dunk.
“My teammates gave me the best opportunity to score,” Freeman said.
Freeman also grabbed 10 rebounds and was among three Iowa players that finished with a double-double.
Perkins, in addition to his career-high in assists, also scored 11 points, while junior forward Payton Sandfort finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
Sandfort led Iowa with five 3-point baskets and has made 10 3-point field goals in the last two games.
The Waukee native also has made at least four 3-pointers in five games this season (12 times in his career).
Perkins is just the third player in program history to record at least 15 assists in a game.
B.J. Armstrong also had 15 assists in a game, while Cal Wulfsberg holds the program record with 16 assists.
Perkins is the 10th player in school history to post a points-assists double-double.
His unselfishness was contagious as Iowa had 30 assists on 35 baskets and six Iowa players scored in double figures.
Friday’s victory was Fran McCaffery 271st as the Iowa head coach, tying Tom Davis for the most wins in program history.
Fran McCaffery was asked on the Big Ten Network post-game show what tying Davis for most wins in program history means to him.
“Considering the amount of respect that I have for that man, and how long I’ve known him and the standard that he set for anybody that came after him, it’s a tremendous feeling,” Fran McCaffery said. “It’s also an indication and is indicative of I’ve had really good players. I’ve had really good players with character, I’ve had a great staff and unbelievable support from my family.
“And I’m just proud to be the Hawkeye coach.”
Friday’s game, which didn’t start until 8:30 p.m., was played before a smaller home crowd than usual as a crippling winter storm kept some fans from attending the game.
The Iowa players still took advantage of being at home and rolled to a double-digit win against a team that swept Iowa last season.
Iowa now faces a quick turnaround with a game against vastly improved Minnesota on Monday in Minneapolis.