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Iowa 87, Penn State 82: Another One Slips Away

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It was a back-and-forth game, but the Nittany Lions couldn’t complete the upset

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Penn State Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

In the first half, both teams opted into a 3-point shooting contest with 38 attempts from beyond the arc out of a total 67 field goal attempts. Penn State got out to a quick start courtesy of Myles Dread, whose three 3s built an 11-3 lead into the first media timeout. The offense stalled out of the break allowing Iowa to storm back behind an outstanding 9-for-19 shooting performance from the perimeter in the opening frame. Penn State proved to be the more capable team scoring in the paint, resulting in a 45-40 lead heading into halftime.

The offense found their success in transition with Wheeler and Reaves finding open shooters before the defense set up. Myles Dread was the spark early, finishing the half with 14 points. Josh Reaves (7 points, 5 assists), Rasir Bolton (12 points) and Mike Watkins (7 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks) were heavily involved in the final minutes of the first half as the scoring moved inside.

With Tyler Cook out for the game it was expected that Jordan Wieskamp would be required to fill-in for the Hawkeyes leading scorer. Instead it was Isaiah Moss, Ryan Kriener and Jordan Bohannon who lit it up for a combined 8-10 shooting from three-point range in the first half. Luca Garza added 8 points, but struggled when matched-up against Watkins.

Penn State answered a Wieskamp-led run by Iowa to start the second half. The Nittany Lions held serve, taking a four point lead into the first media timeout with 14:58 to play. A technical foul on Luka Garza created a 5-0 swing as Bolton hit both free throws and Jamari Wheeler added a rare three-pointer.

Iowa was able to temper their reliance on the three-pointer with Jordan Wieskamp and Luka Garza scoring at the rim, Garza taking advantage of Watkins slow feet and fatigue. Unlikely contributors John Harrar and Deivis Zemgulis added key baskets heading to send Penn State the under-12 timeout with a 63-60 lead.

The Nittany Lions had opportunities to break the game open, but each time the Hawkeyes had a response. After a two-minute scoreless stretch for both team, Iowa pulled within one point with about nine minutes to go. In a markedly different approach than the first half, the teams traded baskets at the rim with Luka Garza taking over for the Hawkeyes.

Penn State seemed to tense up coming out of a timeout with less than eight minutes to play. Missed threes, and continued offensive struggles for Lamar Stevens contributed to a 17-4 run by the Hawkeyes over a six-minute span. With 4:52 remaining, Iowa led 77-72.

A 10-point run by the Hawkeyes ended with back-to-back threes by Josh Reaves, and a transition layup for Stevens to put the Nittany Lions back in front, 80-79. Fran McCaffery called a timeout with 3:04 remaining. Iowa took a one point lead into the final minute, when Jordan Bohannon hit a dagger from NBA-range following an offensive rebound to stretch the lead to 4. Turnovers by Rasir Bolton and Josh Reaves in the finals minutes were killer, and Iowa put the game away at the free throw line to win 87-82.

Four Factors Analysis

As refreshing as Penn State’s offensive efficiency was tonight, their defensive effort against a team without their leading scorer, Tyler Cook, was underwhelming. In the first half the Hawkeyes survived on an unsustainable rate from beyond the arc, but in the second Luka Garza and Jordan Wieskamp exposed the Nittany Lions interior defense. Turnovers and the inability to string together defensive stands spelled doom for the home team.

Player Of The Game

Josh is doing his best to will the team to a victory here in January, but he came up just short yet again. A last-minute turnover doesn’t take away from yet another strong outing for the senior who’s stepped into a bigger role on offense lately. He had a few beautiful feeds to Watkins and Stevens in the post.

Random Observations

  • Adjusting the Rotation - Pat Chambers opted to go with Kyle McCloskey and Deivis Zemgulis in favor of Trent Buttrick and Myreon Jones tonight. They each contributed 3 points, but I’d expect Chambers to continue to experiment.
  • Get to the Rim - Lamar Stevens and Rasir Bolton combined to shoot 1 for 10 from the perimeter, and 8 for 12 inside. Regardless of what the team would like to do ideally, these two are much more consistent when they’re attacking the paint.
  • Hello, Offense - Penn State scored their highest total since the season opener tonight! There were still moments of poor decision-making and scoring droughts, but their were also flashes of a more efficient offense than we’ve seen all year.

Up Next

Penn State (7-10, 0-7) travels to Minnesota (13-3, 3-2) for a Saturday night match-up at Williams Arena. The game starts at 8:30 PM ET and will be televised by the Big Ten Network.