Improving Hawkeyes make statement with 64-49 win

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa men’s basketball team scored early and often against Penn State Saturday night in Carver-Hawkeye Arena and cruised to a comfortable 64-49 victory.

With the win, the Hawkeyes move to 10-11 on the season and 3-5 in the Big Ten. The loss makes five in a row for Penn State, which fell to 10-9 on the year including a 2-5 conference record.

On a night in which the Hawkeyes shot 47.4 percent from the field, Iowa got perfection from Jeff Peterson, Cyrus Tate and Seth Gorney. Tate scored seven points on 2-of-2 shooting and grabbed 13 rebounds. Gorney scored 11 points on 3-of-3 shooting including his first ever three-point basket and grabbed eight rebounds.

“It’s not very often you see three guys that didn’t miss a field goal all night,” said Penn State coach Ed DeChellis.

“You make the plays you know will work,” said Iowa coach Todd Lickliter. “A lot of it is shot selection. I think we’re making strides. I hope we can continue to grow.”

Stealing the night was Peterson, scoring 19 points and adding five assists. Peterson was 4-of-4 from the field including two three-pointers and 9-of-9 from the foul-line.

“He played his career game,” DeChellis said. “He didn’t miss a shot. It was important for them. They needed some production from the bench and they got 19 from him.”

Jeff Peterson played with great poise tonight,” Lickliter said. “The shots he took he was comfortable with. I’ve been very demanding of Jeff and he has responded well.”

Also contributing for the Hawkeyes was Jake Kelly scoring 11 points, including three three-point baskets. Iowa won the rebound battle 34-22 and also shot 19-of-22 from the free-throw line on a night in which the basket seemed big for the Hawkeyes.

“It’s fun to watch a team that compliments one another,” Lickliter said. “It’s a thing of beauty. I like watching teams like that.”

The Hawkeyes came out running in the first half with precision passing from Tony Freeman including an ally-oop dunk pass to Tate and a long baseball pass to Justin Johnson leading to a layup and free throw to convert a three-point play giving Iowa an early 9-2 lead.

Iowa shot 52.6 percent for the half (10-of-19) while holding Penn State to only 29.2 percent shooting on 7-of-24 shooting.

“Today you saw a team work together defensively,” Lickliter said. “Some of it is awareness but it’s also playing with poise.”

Also adding three-point baskets for the Hawkeyes within the first 10 minutes of play were Kelly, Johnson and Peterson all with one apiece to push the lead to double digits for the Hawkeyes 19-5. Johnson and Peterson would each add another three-pointer to give Iowa its largest lead of the game (18) 29-11.

Penn State relied on Jamelle Cornley and Talor Battle for its first nine points of the game during the first 15 minutes of the first half. After falling behind by 18 late in the half, Stanley Pringle scored the Nitany Lions final eight points of the half which left Iowa in the lead 29-17.

Cornley, Pringle and Battle continued to contribute the bulk of the offense for Penn State in the second half but it wasn’t enough as Iowa maintained its double-digit lead for most of the night. Pringle finished with 17 points while Cornely contributed 15 and Battle added 11.

Iowa used back-to-back three-pointers from Peterson and Freeman to push its lead to 15 in the second half, 48-33. A seven point stretch from Cornley cut the Iowa lead to 55-44 but the Hawkeyes made 9-of-10 free-throws down the stretch to close the game 64-49.

“I don’t know if we were that bad offensively or they were that good defensively,” DeChellis said. “Most teams play well at home. Guys were making shots for them. But for the first 10 minutes we looked like we had never practiced offense.”

Iowa’s next game is on the road at Purdue on Jan. 30 at 6:05 p.m.