Tshimanga steps up to limit Hawkeyes inside

January 29, 2018 GMT

LINCOLN — Iowa center Tyler Cook scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds Saturday night. But the damage might have been worse for Nebraska if center Jordy Tshimanga hadn’t played his best game of the season.

The 6-foot-11, 268-pound sophomore had 11 points on 4 of 5 shooting and added eight rebounds and an assist in 19 minutes to help the Huskers defeat the Hawkeyes 98-84.

Cook, a 6-9, 255-pounder, attacked NU starters Isaac Copeland (6-9, 221) and Isaiah Roby (6-8, 225) inside and repeatedly scored easy baskets. Iowa outscored NU in the paint 42-28.

But Tshimanga’s size was enough to at least slow down Cook, who entered the game averaging 14.6 points and 6.5 rebounds.

“I didn’t like the matchup with Cook,” coach Tim Miles said. “We felt that was going to be difficult, and that proved correct.

“But I thought Jordy came in and did his best job of the year. He got some extended minutes because he earned them. He got 11 and eight, and that was badly needed.”

Tshimanga left the team for two games over a five-day stretch earlier this month, pondering a transfer. He said he has put that behind him.

“My coaches and my teammates told me to stay positive,” Tshimanga said. “I believe in myself, and when I have guys around me I believe in as well, it makes my job easy.”

Tshimanga’s longer-than-usual minutes were important because backup Tanner Borchardt (flu) wasn’t available and backup Duby Okeke didn’t play because of a coach’s decision.

Going for 100

It’s not often a team gets hooted at home when winning a conference game by 14 points, but Nebraska drew some good-natured flak from the crowd for holding the ball on the final possession instead of trying to reach 100 points.

Guard James Palmer dribbled the ball and motioned to the crowd to take it easy.

“We just wanted to get the win,” Palmer said. “The fans wanted 100, though. I won’t apologize to the fans for not getting 100. It would have been great for them, but we got the win.”

Forward Isaac Copeland interjected: “That was my fault. I missed two free throws (with 52 seconds left).”