For the last few weeks, Penn State fans have been fortunate enough to watch the Nittany Lions play pretty close to their potential night in and night out, even in their losses. After a week off, though, Penn State didn't look quite as sharp, especially in the first half of its 65-51 win over Iowa on Wednesday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.
The Lions trailed by 11 points mid-way through the first half and did have much flow going at all on the offensive end of the floor. For 18 minutes, Iowa was clearly the better team, but out of the final media timeout, Penn State flipped a switch and scored the last seven points of the half to take a 29-28 lead into the locker room.
In the second half, the Lions looked a lot more like the team fans have grown accustomed to. Penn State was getting open looks around the cup and capitailizing on them, while playing tough defense at the other end of the floor. They also hit the glass hard, turning what was a two rebound edge at the half to a nine board advantage following the break.
Talor Battle led all scorers with 23 points on 8-13 shooting from the field. Jeff Brooks backed him up with 22 points of his own, including four 3-pointers and Andrew Jones came painfully close to a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds.
With a week off leading into the game, it might have been nice to see a flashier performance from Penn State, but the Lions got the job done, and have evened their conference record at 4-4. They're now in position to book up a real resume boosting win against No. 15 Wisconsin on Saturday at they Bryce Jordan Center.
- Battle's production is great, but seeing lines like Brooks' against Iowa are the kind of things that should get Penn State excited. When he's in the game, he's a difference maker for this team on both ends of the floor. Not only did Brooks have a big night scoring, but he had a couple of eye popping blocks, too. Those do a lot for the momentum of a team, and it's clear Brooks' teammates feed off the big plays he's been making.
- Penn State shot 50% from the field for the third time in a row. It's the first time that has happened in Big Ten play since 1999.
- Iowa made things a little difficult on the boards, but Penn State's forwards did a great job of getting after them in the second half for Penn State to win the rebounding battle for the fifth straight game, 30-21.
- Andrew Jones isn't delivering huge numbers, but he's grown much more confident in the Big Ten schedule, and it's obvious in his play right now.
- Penn State played really well defensively. No Iowa player scored more than 11 points in the game and the Lions managed to really put the clamps on highly touted freshman Melsahn Basabe, holding him to four points on the night.
- The Lions found themselves in a lot of foul trouble against Iowa. David Jackson and Jones each finished with four fouls and Billy Oliver picked up three. Penn State can ill afford to see these guys forced the bench with foul trouble against better teams.
- It was a sloppy effort by Penn State as the Lions racked up 14 turnovers. Again, that's not going to cut it against better team. The Lions need to make smart decisions and not be baited into unforced errors like these, or it could be curtains for this team pretty soon.
- The bench got two points the whole evening from a Cammeron Woodyard jumper. Though Oliver looked pretty good defensively, it's pretty clear Ed doesn't have a whole lot of faith in anyone other than the starting five. The bench really needs to step it up against Wisconsin.
- The weather was just plain ugly in State College Wednesday night, which held the game attendance down.
- Penn State's RPI is probably going to dip more from this win than it did from losing to Ohio State and Purdue.
- The slow early start was a concerning. If Penn State comes out like that against Iowa, things will go south in a hurry.
Jeff Brooks and Talor Battle talk about the game and the importance of starting strong against Wisconsin. And yes, that is an Elmo t-shirt Brooks is wearing.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery talks about his team's loss, but also his thoughts on Jeff Brooks.
Ed DeChellis offers his perspective on the win, including the tough first half.