Iowa Men's Basketball

Penn State dunks all over Iowa men's basketball

Nittany Lions hand Hawkeyes worst road loss of Big Ten season

Penn State forward Mike Watkins (right) defends against Iowa forward Cordell Pemsl (left) on Saturday at Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pa. Penn State defeated Iowa, 82-58. (USA TODAY Sports)
Penn State forward Mike Watkins (right) defends against Iowa forward Cordell Pemsl (left) on Saturday at Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pa. Penn State defeated Iowa, 82-58. (USA TODAY Sports)
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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — The game was decided before it happened, but a 39-second stretch in the game’s 36th minute epitomized Penn State’s 82-58 men’s basketball win over Iowa Saturday night in the Bryce Jordan Center.

Penn State’s Lamar Stevens grabbed an offensive rebound and fed Mike Watkins for a dunk. Iowa’s Tyler Cook turned the ball over, and Stevens broke free for an uncontested dunk. Stevens then stole the ball and waltzed to the basket for yet another jam.

Thirty-nine seconds, three dunks, a 75-52 Nittany Lions lead, and an Iowa team that again was lost on the road. This was the Hawkeyes’ fifth Big Ten road defeat by 13 or more points and the worst of the bunch, margin-wise. It dropped Iowa to 3-9 in the conference, 12-13 overall.

Unlike many of the Hawkeyes’ league losses, the heavy damage didn’t come from 3-pointers. Penn State (6-6, 16-9) made just five. But Iowa had only one trey in 10 tries, that from Jordan Bohannon in the game’s first minute.

Playing with a virus, the sophomore guard took only two more shots and didn’t score again. He played 24 minutes before being taken out of the game for good with 12:08 left.

“He tried to gut it out,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said after the game on the Hawkeye Radio Network broadcast. “I thought he battled, but he kind of ran out of gas.

“He wasn’t himself, I think that was obvious. He just wasn’t seeing it. I just wasn’t going to push him any farther. We’ve got a game Tuesday night (at home against No. 4 Michigan State) and we’ve got to get him healthy.”

“Bohannon’s everything to them,” Penn State Coach Patrick Chambers said after the game. “When he makes 3-pointers, they’re really hard to guard.”

The Lions’ offense came on easier scores than open 3-pointers. They amassed 50 points in the paint, including 10 dunks and 12 layups. Watkins, the Big Ten’s field goal percentage leader, was 9 of 10 from the field thanks to getting 10 high-percentage shots.

Yet again, it wasn’t a showcase game for the Hawkeyes’ defense.

“We came out a little slow, sluggish,” said Cook, who led his team with 19 points. “We weren’t necessarily ready to guard their guys or their action.”

Watkins was one of four Lions in double-figures with 19 points. Fellow sophomores Stevens and Tony Carr had 17 and 16, respectively. Stevens, a 6-foot-8 forward, had a career-high four blocked shots.

This simply wasn’t a contest for most of the game. Iowa had two early leads and it was 14-14 with 13:25 left, but the Lions went on a 9-0 run and never again led by fewer than five. Another 9-0 Penn State run pushed the lead to 43-24, and it was 47-28 at halftime.

Penn State shot 54.7 percent from the field to Iowa’s 38.2. The Hawkeyes made just two of their first 13 shots in the second half and never got closer than 14 points.

Freshman Luka Garza had 13 points for Iowa, but made just 3 of 13 shots from the field. Take away Cook’s 8-of-12, and Iowa’s starters were just 6 of 26.

That didn’t come close to getting it done against dunk-times-10. Thus, Penn State has beaten Iowa twice in a season for the first time since 1995.

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