Feb. 17, 2016
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By JAMES ALLAN
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State shell-shocked the No. 4/6 University of Iowa men’s basketball team on Wednesday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.
The Nittany Lions (13-13, 4-9) made seven first-half 3-point field goals and 10 for the game (Penn State made one in a 73-49 loss Feb. 3 in Iowa City) to defeat the Hawkeyes, 79-75. Iowa falls to 20-6 overall and 11-3 in league play.
“To their credit, they moved the ball and got it to open people,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “They shot it with confidence and executed well. That’s going to open things up.”
Penn State had the advantage across the board in field goal percentage (46.4 to 41.2), 3-point field goal percentage (35.7 to 33.3) and free throw percentage (77.3 to 71.4). Iowa attempted 35 free throws, but left 10 points off the scoreboard. Both teams finished with 34 rebounds.
Iowa forced 10 first half turnovers and 15 for the game, converting the miscues into a 20-8 advantage in points off turnovers. Penn State got 29 points from its reserves, including a career-high 19 points from forward Donovan Jack.
Junior Peter Jok paced Iowa, finishing with 28 points on 7-of-15 shooting. He made four 3-point field goals and went 10-of-11 from the free throw stripe. Senior Jarrod Uthoff scored 19 points on 5-of-14 shooting and went 7-of-10 from the free throw line. Senior Adam Woodbury grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds.
“We got good shots, we just didn’t make them,” said McCaffery. “We only had two guys in doubles; we need some other guys to step up.”
The early portion of the game looked to be a repeat of the matchup two weeks ago in Iowa City with the Hawkeyes scoring the first eight points and storming out to a 12-4 lead at the 15:52 mark. Shep Garner jumpstarted the Nittany Lions with back-to-back 3-pointers and the shooting was contagious.
Penn State, who entered the game with the 340th-best 3-point field goal percentage nationally, made 7-of-14 first half long balls. Iowa led 25-18 on a Nicholas Baer 3-pointer with 7:35 left in the first half, but the Hawkeyes didn’t make another field goal before the break.
The Nittany Lions capitalized, using a 16-2 run to build a 34-27 advantage and they led 38-31 at the half.
Iowa spent the second half playing catch-up, but Penn State always kept the Hawkeyes at bay.
The Hawkeyes cut the lead to 48-44 on a Jok 3-point play with 15:13 left and closed the gap to 48-45 with 14:04 remaining. Iowa then got into the bonus at the halfway point and it was two Woodbury free throws that cut the lead to 57-55 with 6:29 left.
Iowa didn’t capitalize enough on its free throws, missing 10 for the game, and seven in the second half, but still the game was there for the taking.
“We did a good job getting into the double bonus,” said McCaffery. “Four times down the stretch, we go 1-for-4. If you do the necessary things to get into the double bonus, you have to make them pay and get two free throws.”
Penn State’s lead extended to nine points with 1:06 remaining and it led 78-69 with 39 seconds to play. Iowa kept battling, using two Jok 3-pointers to close the gap to 78-75 with seven seconds left. The Nittany Lions sealed the victory with a Brandon Taylor free throw to extend the lead to 79-75.
“We kept fighting until the end,” said McCaffery. “We thought we could get it even and then get it to overtime.”
Iowa now has a week off before hosting Wisconsin on Feb. 24 on Mediacom Court. There won’t be self-examination or evaluation.
“We just need to go back to work,” said McCaffery.