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Iowa 68, Penn State 51: Hawkeyes Pull Away Late, Sink Nittany Lions Back to .500

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Following a loss in Iowa City on Saturday afternoon the Nittany Lions have fallen back to .500 on the season

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Iowa Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Anyone who tells you they are not impressed with what Micah Shrewsberry and the Nittany Lions have done thus far this season is lying. Even after a tough loss in Iowa City on Saturday afternoon the Nittany Lions still find themselves with a .500 record at 8-8 (3-5 in Big Ten play).

Saturday’s 68-51 final did not do the game justice. With 11:13 remaining in a game that had been close throughout, Myles Dread hit a three to cut Iowa’s lead to 44-41. Following this the Hawkeyes would finish the game on a 24-10 run to make the final score look more lopsided than the game itself was.

There are plenty of reasons why the Nittany Lions being a .500 squad is an impressive feat at this point of the season. It’s the first year with a new coaching staff that inherited a rebuild, COVID protocols/outbreaks have caused four games to be canceled, and, due to COVID/injuries, the Nittany Lions have played much of the season without their full compliment of players.

Saturday afternoon was just the second time this season that Shrewsberry had his full roster available. It was the first time the full Nittany Lion roster was available for a road game.

Even in a losing effort the Nittany Lions continued to be a strong defensive club. For a 12th consecutive game they held their opponent to below their season average for points per game. Iowa entered the day averring 83.9 PPG which ranked 6th nationally.

Four Factors Analysis

Player of the Game

While it was a rough afternoon for most Nittany Lion players, Jalen Pickett continues to step up game in and game out. He led the Nittany Lions with 14 points, to go with 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and a team leading 2 steals. Pickett continues to be arguably the most reliable player that Shrewsberry and his staff have.

Random Observations

Poor shooting rears its ugly head again - Last Sunday the Nittany Lions came up just short in an upset bid of Ohio State. A big factor in that loss was Penn State shooting just 39.6% from the field and 27.3% from three-point range. Saturday afternoon was another poor shooting day for the Nittany Lions as they shot just 33.3% from the field and 28.0% from three-point range in their loss.

Offense never looked in sync - It was not just poor shooting that plagued the Nittany Lion offense. Often times Penn State looked out of sync offensively and struggled to find rhythm. There were three shot clock violations by the Nittany Lions in the loss, as well as 17 turnovers. Maybe it was a result of having the team’s full allotment of players for just the second time this season, but the Nittany Lion offense never looked in rhythm or sync.

Looking Ahead

The Nittany Lions are slated to return to the court on Wednesday night when they are scheduled to host the 14-4 Indiana Hoosiers. In their first matchup this season the Nittany Lions upset the Hoosiers 61-58. Tip-off is scheduled fro 8:30 PM ET.