Sometimes you can play well and still not come out on top. That was the case on Saturday afternoon, as Penn State managed to corral Iowa's vaunted attack for much of the game until the fouls piled up. The Hawkeyes shot 40 free throws on the afternoon, many of which occurred as a result of Pat Chambers electing to extend the game at the line, where Iowa had struggled in the first half.
Iowa's length and athleticism make them tough to break down defensively and besides D.J. Newbill, who went for a game-high 22 points on 10-15 shooting, the Nittany Lions struggled to create openings in the half court. Tim Frazier struggled to operate among Iowa's trees, going 4-17 from the field. Penn State did a similarly good job on B1G PotY candidate Roy Devyn Marble, who was just 2-9 from the floor. The same couldn't be said for Aaron White and Melsahn Basabe, who combined for 30 points, 15 boards and 5 blocks.
Four Factors Analysis
The game was closer than the final score indicates. Just as Eric predicted in our preview, the Nittany Lions kept it close before fading late - the difference was Iowa's ability to cash in on their 40 foul shots. Despite the 12-point gap, Penn State made four more field goals than their opponents, but between the discrepancy at the line and PSU's poor three-point shooting (3-16 from behind the arc, two of which came in garbage time), Iowa proved to be just too much for their hosts.
Player of the Game
Newbill continued his dominance over Iowa with another 20-point game, his third against the Hawkeyes in as many outings. He displayed the strength and will required to finish over Basabe and Gabe Olaseni, two of the conference's best defenders.
- Three-point struggles - Penn State has been pretty poor from behind the arc since conference play began, but Saturday was a new low in that regard. 3-16 simply won't get it done against a team as offensively gifted as Iowa. Newbill and Donovon Jack in particular have been regressing, going 2-22 in the four games since the win over Purdue.
- John Johnson is out of control - No, not really. He went 4-8 from the field for 11 points and was PSU's best finisher around the rim not named Newbill. Sure, Flipp can be maddening with his shot selection at times but he played within the offense today and didn't force any outrageous attempts. Simmer down, MGoBlog.
- Iowa is really good - Like, dang. Fran McCaffery has built a deep team that can run with anyone. Penn State tried to slow the game down for fear of getting run out of the gym and Iowa still managed to put up 82 points on 'em. They're two deep at every position and made the Lions earn every point. (Hint: pick them to go deep in March)
Penn State travels to Lincoln for their first taste of action in Pinnacle Bank Arena on Thursday. Nebraska has been great at home this season, having lost just once in front of their raucous home crowd. The Lions won their first conference game of the season against the Huskers but they're a totally different animal at PBA and they're sure to be favored by a few points.