Game 21: Iowa Preview

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

The Nittany Lions will try to bust out of an eight game losing streak against the Hawkeyes to set the tone for the grapplers on Friday.

Who: Iowa Hawkeyes (13-7, 2-5)
When: Thursday, 8:00pm
Where: Carver-Hawkeye Arena
TV: ESPNU

After suffering another defeat at the hands of a superior Big Ten team, Penn State travels to Iowa City in search of their first-ever conference road win under Patrick Chambers. The Hawkeyes enter Tuesday's action having lost their last two games at Ohio State and Purdue (in overtime), and a win against the Nittany Lions will help keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive.

Fran McCaffery's team plays at the fastest pace in the conference, believe it or not, as Iowa averages 68 possessions per game. Penn State, by comparison, averages 64 possessions per contest. Though they are just 2-5 in the Big Ten, the Hawkeyes do manage to put up 65.1 points per game (0.96 points per possession), good for fifth in the Big Ten. They're also the best in the league when it comes to sharing the ball, recording an assist on 61.3% of their field goals.

Swingman Roy Devyn Marble (14.4 ppg) and combo forward Aaron White (13.4 ppg) are the main threats on the offensive end, though Iowa's rotation features a number of players that are capable of big scoring nights. Mike Gesell and Zach McCabe are capable of lighting it up from downtown, though neither has been particularly consistent from three. On the inside, Melsahn Basabe has become a more reliable threat lately, averaging 10.2 points per game over the last five contests.

Penn State's last game against Ohio State on Saturday seemed like a rerun of every other conference game thus far. The Lions had to try to claw back after missing 12 consecutive shots in the first half, giving the Buckeyes plenty of breathing room. Despite the best efforts of D.J. Newbill (15 points, six assists and four rebounds) and Jermaine Marshall (16 points), the comeback never got to within less than three possessions.

They'll have to find a way to avoid the dreaded shooting slump in order to have a chance on the road, and it would help if Brandon Taylor woke up from his own personal slumber from three: the freshman is 2-19 from deep in the last four games. Pat Chambers has talked about the search for a third scorer, and if Taylor isn't up to the task the cupboard is pretty bare if Ross Travis' jumpshot that he should stop shooting this instant isn't falling.

Besides, if worse comes to worst (it will), the rasslers'll avenge the shootyhoopers on Friday, anyways.


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