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Iowa 77, Penn State 68: On to Sparty Again

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Ice-cold shooting in the second half along with two technical fouls is not a winning combination.

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

With the race for the top four seeds and a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament reaching a dead heat and with the return of Myreon Jones to game action, Penn State faced an opportunity to give themselves a leg up if they could find a way to become the first Big Ten team this season to hand a revenge-minded Iowa team a loss at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Much like the first matchup at the Palestra, this game represented a heavyweight battle of offensive fireworks. The teams traded punches early on, before PSU jumped ahead, thanks to some hot shooting via Seth Lundy, who nailed four of his six attempts from three-point range (for 14 total first half points) and Lamar Stevens pitching in his share of scoring (Lamar would have nine points in the first half).

The Lions led by as many as eight points before Iowa finished the half on a 13-4 run to take a 35-34 lead into the locker room. This, despite Luka Garza shooting an abysmal 3-for-16 from the floor (albeit, he grabbed eight rebounds), as hot perimeter shooting from CJ Frederick, Joe Wieskamp, and Connor McCaffrey picked up the slack for the Hawkeyes.

The second half saw Iowa score seven unanswered points in the first minute and a half before Pat Chambers called a timeout to try and stop the bleeding. Unfortunately, it didn’t work as PSU started off ice cold, hitting only one of their first nine attempts from the floor. Meanwhile, Garza started to heat up, and the Hawkeyes were able to push their lead into double digits.

Things went from bad to worse when Jamari Wheeler fouled Garza going for a loose ball and subsequently was whistled for a technical foul after seemingly yelling a four-letter word at the official. Wieskamp would nail a pair of free throws for Iowa to push their lead to 13.

PSU would cut the deficit to 62-54 following a trey from Myreon Jones, his first since returning from illness. Things completely fell apart afterwards though, as Iowa went on a 9-0 run, aided by yet another technical foul on PSU, this time against Mike Watkins, who also apparently mouthed off in frustration at the refs. PSU would get no closer than nine points the rest of the way, as Iowa kept their Big Ten home unbeaten streak intact.

PSU will now re-group before their upcoming Senior Night clash against Michigan State, which will not only be critical as far as seeding in the conference tournament is concerned, but also an emotional one with it being the final home game for Lamar and Mike, two guys who have meant so much to the program over the past few years.

PPP and Four Factors

The stats are actually fairly close, with exception to the PPP, as Iowa was a little more efficient shooting the ball, going 42 percent from the floor as opposed to PSU’s 37 percent. It also helped the Hawkeyes converted 14 of their 17 free throws while PSU didn’t get to the line as much and had a lower percentage made (6 for 10).

Random Observations

  • It sure was nice to see Myreon Jones back in action, even though he had a rough afternoon shooting the ball, he made some nice hustle plays to garner a steal and a block and disrupt things defensively at times. Here’s to him being a bigger factor on the scoreboard come Tuesday against Sparty.
  • I had a bad feeling about this one when Iowa led at halftime despite Garza struggling. It was only a matter of time before Garza would get it together and start picking up the scoring slack. Myles Dread did step up in the second half and finished with double digits along with Lamar and Seth, but it wasn’t enough.

Breaking Battle

Lamar came into today’s game needing 60 points to surpass Talor Battle’s career scoring record. He is now 40 points away from doing so with at least four more games remaining. Barring a serious injury/illness, look for Lamar to become PSU’s new scoring leader by the end of their first Big Ten Tournament game.

Up Next

No. 16 Penn State (21-8, 11-7) returns home to the BJC one last time this season when they host No. 24 Michigan State, this coming Tuesday. Tip-off will be at 7:00 PM ET on ESPN.