Hawks Need 'A' Game at Penn State

The last time Iowa played Penn State, the Nittany Lions were learning how to play without Geary Claxton, who was having an MVP year before blowing out his ACL. PSU has adapted and has been played some decent basketball as of late. Jon Miller talks about that, Iowa's best case Big Ten Tournament hopes in addition to some stat sheet stuffers in this basketball grab bag...

When Iowa travels to take on Penn State in Happy Valley tonight, I doubt they will be ‘overconfident'.

If they are, they should take a peek at what happened in Ann Arbor on Tuesday night. The Northwestern Wildcats earned their first Big Ten win of the season in 16 ties against the Wolverines.

Ouch.

Actually, double ouch. One ouch for Michigan, and another for Iowa for blowing that 16-point first half lead against Michigan earlier this month.

Had Iowa won that game, they would have six wins in Big Ten play with a shot at getting to 9-9 by the end of the year. That might also have given them a shot at the sixth seed in the Big Ten tournament, and perhaps even an all alone finish in 5th place if a few things fell right for them.

Now, the best Iowa can hope for is a tie for fifth place. Ohio State already has eight wins, and it's not out of the question that they could lose the rest of their games. That would also give one more win to Minnesota, and then the Gophers could lose their other three games which are all on the road; at Purdue, at Indiana and at Michigan State. If a three way tie occurred, Iowa would still get the 7th seed in the Big Ten tournament.

The odds of all of those things happening are fairly long. Perhaps longer than just fairly long.

All Iowa can do is play the game at hand, and tonight's contest at PSU is going to be a challenge.

Excluding their 27 point beat down at Penn State, the Nits have played some decent ball as of late. They have three losses in their last four games, but a home win against Illinois was a nice treat for the faithful. They also lost by seven at Minnesota and by five at Michigan.

Iowa beat PSU by 15 late last month in Carver Hawkeye, the third game the Nits played without possible Big Ten MVP Geary Claxton.

They have figured out a way to play without him, going small and quick and utilizing Jamelle Cornley more than ever in the paint. Claxton and Cornley have been thorns in Iowa's side on the road.

That being said, I was somewhat surprised to learn that Iowa has beaten Penn State in eight of their last nine games. I remembered the loss at Penn State in 2002, and assumed that there were along the way.

No matter what history says, Iowa is going to have to play a solid game in order to win, an they are going to have to take care of the basketball; the Hawks have averaged 19.3 turnovers per game in their last three road contests.

TIP INS:

Justin Johnson needs 10 three point baskets to tie Luke Recker for #2 in a season in trey's converted (Johnson has 82). Johnson has hoisted 236 attempts from beyond the arc, the third highest single season total in school history. He needs 13 more attempts to move in behind Chris Kingsbury's record of 297.

Tony Freeman's three, 3-pointers made per game is #1 in Big Ten games….With 93 blocks in his career, Kurt Looby is 7th all time in Iowa in shot swats….Cyrus Tate is averaging 7.3 rebounds per game in Big Ten play, which is the third best average in the league…Seth Gorney is at 7th with 6.7 per contest….Tate has made better than 71 percent of his field goal attempts in Big Ten games, which is tops in the league.

Penn State has allowed teams to make 45 percent of their shots, a stat that Iowa has to exploit. PSU is not a great free throw shooting team, making just 61 percent from the line.

In their January win over Penn State, Iowa hit 19-22 (86.4%) free throws, surpassing 80% for just the third time. Jeff Peterson led the Hawkeyes at the line, hitting all nine of his attempts. Iowa had four players in double figures in that contest.


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