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Penn State 77, Iowa 73: Lions Earn First Win In Iowa City In 16 Years

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After a disappointing loss to NC State, Penn State rebounded in a big way.

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a loss at NC State in a game they knew they should have had, the Nittany Lions were looking to right the ship in their Big Ten opener at Iowa. Much like the NC State game where PSU raced out to an 11-0 lead, the Lions raced out to an 11-2 lead. Much like the NC State game though, the opposition was quick to snap out of it, as Iowa’s Tyler Cook gave PSU fits in the post and Isaiah Moss doing the same in the backcourt. Iowa however, was unable to take the lead, thanks to some hot shooting from Lamar Stevens and Josh Reaves, combined with Mike Watkins asserting his will in the paint both offensively and defensively, the Lions found themselves leading 39-34 at the half.

The second half saw PSU push its lead to as high as ten points before Iowa seemingly woke up again and pushed the PSU lead back down to as little as two, but were never able to get closer than that, thanks to a combination of missed opportunities by the Hawkeyes, Tony Carr heating up, and the other Lions’ starters nailing timely shots. PSU’s defensive effort however, was critical, forcing a total of 18 turnovers on Iowa.

The game’s final painstaking couple of minutes featured Penn State failing to capitalize up 69-64 and Iowa’s Tyler Cook getting a critical and-one (Cook would finish with a double-double of 23 points and 12 rebounds for Iowa) cut the PSU lead to two. Stevens would respond though with a critical baseline jump shot and Carr and Stevens would finish the game off at the free throw line, preserving the Lions’ first win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena since March 2001. All of this accomplished without a single bench point for the Lions.

PPP and Four Factors

Team Total Possessions PPP eFG% OReb% TO% FT Rate
Team Total Possessions PPP eFG% OReb% TO% FT Rate
Penn State 71 1.09 53.1% 30.6% 19.8% 17.2%
Iowa 1.03 54.5% 42.4% 25.5% 38.2%

As stated before, Iowa committed more turnovers in this one (18 to PSU’s 14) and also failed to take advantage of their trips to the free throw line, hitting on only 13 of their 21 attempts, while PSU hit on 9 of their 11 trips to the line, negating the significant advantage in FT Rate percentage. That, combined with some hot three-point shooting from PSU were the difference makers in this one.

Player Of The Game - Lamar Stevens (22 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks)

Lamar set the tone from the very beginning, scoring the game’s opening points and hitting the final two free throws to put PSU up by four points, icing the game with 4.2 seconds left. This is a PSU team that does not rely on simply one or two guys to carry the scoring load, but has at least four different players capable for stepping up on any given night, and tonight was Lamar’s night.

Random Observations

  • Iowa City: Where the 3-Pointers Flow Like Wine - Stealing a road win in Big Ten play usually involves having to shoot lights-out from three-point range, and that’s precisely what PSU did. Led by Tony Carr (4-for-6) and Shep Garner (also 4-for-6), the Lions finished with an impressive 12-for-23 from downtown.
  • Wire-To-Wire Finish - Penn State never trailed in this game, as the closest the Hawkeyes would get was a 2-2 tie. The Hawkeyes however, had countless possessions in which they only needed a made basket to either tie the game or take the lead but thanks to solid defense and rebounding from PSU, or shooting themselves in the foot, the Hawkeyes were never able to get over the hump, despite the home crowd being ready to explode. For those of us long-time PSU hoops fans, this was a welcome break from what we’re used to seeing in situations like these.
  • A Good Omen, Perhaps? - Aside from this being PSU’s first road win against Iowa since the 2000-01 season, this was also PSU’s first win in a Big Ten road opener since the 2010-11 season. Both of those seasons ended with the Lions playing in the NCAA Tournament.

Up Next

Penn State (7-2) will play their second early Big Ten contest on Monday December 4th, when they host Wisconsin (3-5) in Happy Valley. Tip-off is at 7:00 PM ET on ESPN2.