The 2015-16 Penn State men's basketball team played a top-5 Big Ten team on the road for the second time this season. The first time, Penn State gave Maryland everything they had, with the Terrapins requiring a furious second half comeback and an all-time performance by freshman center Diamond Stone to emerge with a victory.
Against Iowa, Penn State looked much more like you would expect them to against a team that is looking at a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament, falling to the Hawkeyes 73-49. The Nittany Lions never led after falling behind early, and spent most of the second half trailing by more than 20 points. Foul trouble hurt Penn State, as it has many times this season, with Brandon Taylor picking up two fouls early in the first half. When things started to get out of hand, head coach Patrick Chambers felt the need to put Taylor back out there, and Taylor would eventually pick up his third foul before spending the rest of the half on the bench.
Iowa's best players did what you think they would do, with Jarrod Uthoff and Peter Jok combining for 26 points before being pulled once the decision was no longer in doubt. It was a balanced attack for the Hawkeyes, however. Anthony Clemmens added 12 points, and Adam Woodbury had a game-high 15 rebounds in just 22 minutes.
Four Factors Analysis
Penn State protected the ball pretty well after a shaky start to the game, and they did well on the offensive glass as well. But beyond that, they were dreadful offensively. Iowa's defense was great and did not put the Nittany Lions on the line, and Penn State could not hit a shot. The Hawkeyes also moved the ball well and got a decent number of open looks, and were efficient on the offensive end regardless.
Player of the Game - Brandon Taylor (15 points, 11 rebounds, 1 block)
Taylor, as mentioned before, was fighting it in the first half due to foul trouble. He rebounded from that tough first half by scoring 15 points, grabbing 11 boards, and blocking a shot. Unfortunately, Iowa's defense prevented him from being able to move the ball back out of the post once he got it inside, and he consequently finished the game without an assist. Still, he played decently in a game where most of the team did not.
- Julian Moore's hands. - We need to talk about Julian Moore. His defensive rotations leave something to be desired at times, especially in the zone. But he's got nice touch around the rim and good height and can alter some shots because of that. There is a role for a guy like that on a team like this. But it's really hard to keep him in the game when he struggles holding on to the ball. He has had a consistent problem this season with simply catching a pass or a rebound and not allowing a swiping defender to knock the ball loose. It seems that if any defender makes contact with the ball when it's in his possession, the ball is coming out. He needs to get stronger with the ball to be a consistent part of the rotation.
- Iowa's defense is really impressive. - The Hawkeyes were good in all phases, but the defense in particular stood out to me. They do everything well, preventing entry passes to the bigs, covering the perimeter very well, and defending without fouling. Penn State did not help things by missing decent looks in the paint and failing to capitalize on offensive rebounds, but the Hawkeyes are just a well-oiled machine on that end.
- Penn State can't shoot. - We'll get to the three pointers in a second, but even down low, missed shots plagued Penn State. Devin Foster and Isaiah Washington in particular struggled to convert when getting good looks around the rim, and Jordan Dickerson and Julian Moore struggled with opportunities on offensive rebounds. And then there is the three-point shooting ... woof. 1-20. ONE FOR TWENTY. Five percent. 0-for-12 in the second half. Shep Garner, Isaiah Washington, and Payton Banks combined to go 0-13 from three. The only three they made was a Davis Zemgulis three that was so wide open he had to time to take a dribble and step into it. Yikes.
- Revenge for Iowa. - In a postgame interview on the floor at Carver Hawkeye Arena, Fran McCaffrey immediately cited last year's upset by the D.J. Newbill-led Nittany Lions in the Big Ten Tournament as motivation for Iowa to play a full game.
- Peter Jok has a bloody lip. - Wow, he sure hit the deck hard there. Is he bleeding? I can't tell if he's bleeding. It wouldn't be surprising if he is bleeding. He's looking at his hand like he's checking for blood. Blood from the lip. Is his tongue covering up the bloody spot on his lip? He may have a bit of blood there, blood that he's covering up with his tongue. The blood, if there is any, could very well be coming from that lip, the lip that is currently obscured by the tongue.
Penn State returns to the Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday, February 6 with a game against 22nd-ranked Indiana, fresh off a road win against Michigan. The Hoosiers are 9-1 in Big Ten play, led by senior guard Yogi Ferrell and junior forward Troy Williams.