Basketball tries to build on momentum, travels to Nebraska

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Basketball tries to build on momentum, travels to Nebraska

Iowa guard Isiah Moss drives the ball during Iowa's game against Northern Illinois on Friday Dec. 29, 2017. The Hawkeyes defeated the Huskies 98 to 75. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa guard Isiah Moss drives the ball during Iowa's game against Northern Illinois on Friday Dec. 29, 2017. The Hawkeyes defeated the Huskies 98 to 75. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa guard Isiah Moss drives the ball during Iowa's game against Northern Illinois on Friday Dec. 29, 2017. The Hawkeyes defeated the Huskies 98 to 75. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa guard Isiah Moss drives the ball during Iowa's game against Northern Illinois on Friday Dec. 29, 2017. The Hawkeyes defeated the Huskies 98 to 75. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

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Call it overreaction Friday if you will, but Iowa basketball looked like it got back on track against Wisconsin on Jan. 23.

On top of it all, the players looked like they were having fun again.

“It’s a great feeling,” Isaiah Moss said. “We talked about that in the locker room. We want to keep this feeling after every game.”

The Hawkeyes’ 85-67 throttling of the Badgers on Jan. 23 was a much-needed win for the Black and Gold; Iowa came into the contest with just one win in conference play.

The offense, especially in the low post, looked aggressive, playing as though it was an elimination game. Tyler Cook and Luka Garza kept Wisconsin’s bigs confused and often questioning who had whom on defense.

On one play in particular, Badger post-wizard Ethan Happ yelled at a teammate when he gave up a bucket and a foul in the second half; apparently, Happ’s teammate didn’t slide over in time for a successful double-team.

Cook and Garza combined to score 34 points, and as a team, Iowa piled on 44 points in the paint. Combined, they limited Happ to an 8-of-14 shooting outing.

“We just wanted to be focused more and communicate on the defensive end — just be locked in, play with some more emotion, some more fire,” Cook said.

He noted that the energy level was much higher than in the past few games.

“We had fun with the game,” he said. “We had fun playing.”

Cook threw down a pair of thunderous dunks just as the second half began, both in the face of Happ. That summed up how Iowa’s night played out: The Hawkeyes did not back down from one of the league’s better defensive teams.

Iowa shot the ball at a 51.7 percent clip and churned out a 57.1 percentage in the second half alone, where it led by as many as 22.

The Hawkeyes, who led the Big Ten in scoring last season and relied heavily on the 3-ball to do so, only managed to hit six 3-point attempts against the Badgers.

It was a matter of being aggressive and driving to the hoop, especially for players who normally thrive from beyond the arc.

Jordan Bohannon, one of the conference’s best shooters from deep, made only one of his six attempts from 3-point range, but he scored 13 points and sank four of his six attempts from inside.

Time and time again, Bohannon managed to squeeze past his initial defender up top and drive into the lane, throwing up floaters that dropped with consistency.

The Hawkeyes kept their foot on the gas pedal and didn’t let up, because in almost every conference game this season, Iowa’s opponents have gone on runs in which the Black and Gold proved unable to counter.

“Growing up Wisconsin, I knew individually — and obviously, as a team — that they’re going to make a run,” Bohannon said. “They’re a bunch of tough kids that don’t give up … we knew we had to respond … we did a good job handling their defensive principles, and we got what we wanted on the offensive end.”

Iowa will have its hands full on Saturday, however, with a team that’s played better than Wisconsin this season — Nebraska.

Surprisingly, the Huskers sit at fifth in the conference, with a 15-8 record overall, 6-4 in the Big Ten.

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