Iowa was the heavy favorite in this one, and they sure looked like it from the start. The game was competitive for all of four minutes, as Iowa held a slight 5-4 lead. Then, the next two possessions saw Jarrod Uthoff nail one of his patented fadeaway jumpers with a 6'10" big man in his face and Peter Jok knock down a three in transition that was open for maybe half a microsecond. Once those two ridiculous shots went in, it was clear Penn State had no chance at winning this game.
Iowa would jump out to a 24-9 lead at one point, before letting Penn State cut that to 29-20 with a little under six minutes left in the half. Of course, Iowa put together one of their patented runs and outscored the Nittany Lions 16-6 over the remainder of the period, and took a 19-point lead into halftime.
The second half was fairly non-eventful, as Iowa used a lot of bench guys. Fortunately, unlike the run Northwestern put together on Iowa's backups, Penn State still shot the ball as awful as they did in the first half, which allowed Iowa to actually extend their final margin of victory to 24 points.
This game was complete domination from Iowa, and you don't need a long quantitative explanation on this game to tell you that.
Four Factors in Review
First Half Points Per Possession: Iowa 1.25, Penn State 0.72
First Half Possessions: 36
Second Half Points Per Possession: Iowa 0.90, Penn State 0.74
Second Half Possessions: 31
Total Points Per Possession: Iowa 1.08, Penn State 0.73
Total Possessions: 67
|Iowa||2pt Near Rim||2pt Jumper||3Pt FG||FT|
|Penn State||2pt Near Rim||2pt Jumper||3Pt FG||FT|
Penn State couldn't make a jump shot to save their lives against Iowa.
Iowa had some sloppy moments for a game they won by 24 points. Still, a turnover on a little less than 17% of possessions still isn't bad, and Penn State only won this category because Iowa's reserves had 3 turnovers in the final 5 minutes of play, while Penn State had none. Iowa managed 8 points off their 10 forced turnovers (0.80 points per turnover), which isn't great. However, it is better than the 5 points that Penn State had off of Iowa's 11 turnovers (0.45). Technically, though, Penn State wins the quantity, but Iowa should get the quality.
Advantage: Penn State
This was a game in which looking at the total number of offensive rebounds is very misleading. Penn State had 48 missed field goal attempts compared to Iowa's 29. So Penn State should have had more offensive rebounds because they missed a crap-ton more shots. Still, Penn State did win this category, but it was just by the narrowest of margins. Again, though, this was a category they won in quantity only. Because Iowa turned their 11 offensive boards into 14 second chance points on the night (1.27 points per second chance opportunity) and Penn State was only able to muster 13 points off their 17 offensive rebounds (0.76).
Advantage: Penn State
Free Throw Rate
This was another great game for the Hawkeyes in this area. Iowa is first in the conference when it comes to free throw attempts per field goal attempt on offense, and that is a huge improvement from a team that was below average in this area during the non-conference schedule.
Overall: Iowa Won 2 of 4 Factors
Iowa had no real standout players in this game. It truly was a team effort that saw three guys finish with 12 or more points and three more guys total 8.
Anthony Clemmons logged the best adjusted game score per minute ratio of the night. He gave Iowa 12 points on 4-8 shooting from the floor and 4-4 from the line. He also dished out 4 assists, grabbed a steal, and only turned the ball over once. His three-pointers still aren't falling at the rate they did in past years (he was 0-3 on the night), but he's making up for that by getting to the rim more often and finishing at a higher rate than he ever has. And, lately, he has been better than Mike Gesell in scoring efficiency and distributing the ball.
As for Gesell, I'm not sure if he's still feeling the residual effects of those injuries or if he's just in a bad slump. But his jump shot isn't falling and he's struggling to finish at the rim the way he was earlier in the season. On top of that, his assist totals have gone down recently, which means so have Iowa's.
Two slightly alarming Iowa stats worth monitoring. Over the last three games, Iowa averaging 10.3 assists and 30% accuracy from 3 (18-of-60)— Chad Leistikow (@ChadLeistikow) February 4, 2016
Of course, Iowa is also scoring a lot more points via free throws lately, so that probably has something to do with why assists are lower, too.
But if Gesell keeps up his pace of 6.3 assists per game, he should still pass Andre Woolridge for most assists in a season by an Iowa player by the first game of the Big Ten Tournament. Let's hope he can get back on track.
Outside of point guard play, Adam Woodbury had 15 rebounds (13 defensive!) in just 22 minutes of play. He's now averaging 11 rebounds in a little over 21 minutes per game over his last five contests. Iowa also got 14 points, 5 blocks, and 3 rebounds from Jarrod Uthoff in 24 minutes. It was his standard performance where he knocked down an NBA-range three, hit that crazy aforementioned jumper with a tree in his face, and did some work down low.
Then there was Peter Jok, who continues to show us that he needs absolutely no space to get a shot off and hit nothing but the bottom of the net. Aside from his sharpshooting abilities, though, Jok's 12-point performance was made even better for me by watching him continue to work on taking his man off the dribble. He started the game off by attacking the basket wildly and getting called for a charge, but he soon bounced back with this beauty:
His ball-handling has improved quite a bit over the years, and that up-and-under layup is not a shot I would have been confident in him making last season.
But that wasn't all, not only did Jok drive and finish in traffic, but he also created offense for his teammates off the dribble.
In this clip, he gets in the paint, drawing the help defense, which allows him to find Uthoff for an easy layup.
Jok's improved three-point shooting has been huge for Iowa this season, but him developing into an all-around scorer has also been helpful. And it is something that should pay dividends next year when this becomes his team.
Finally, Iowa's young guys also did some really nice things in this game. The trio of Dom Uhl, Ahmad Wagner, and Nicholas Baer all had 8 points apiece.
Uhl hit another three-pointer in which the opposing team's big man didn't want to follow him out to the three-point line. He also threw down two dunks in this game. One came on a putback off his own miss.
And the other came on a nice post move, and ended with him putting a Penn State man on a poster.
Watching Uhl go to work on offense at the end of games is quickly becoming one of my favorite parts of playing these lower-ranked teams lately. Now he just needs to work on those free throws.
Ahmad Wagner, meanwhile, actually made his free throws in this one. His ability to draw fouls continues to be the best on the team in the limited time he gets on the court, so a lot of his value in the future looks like it may come down to him making those free ones. Of course, he also needs to work on not fouling the other team so much. That's something that usually comes with freshman big men, so I'm sure he will get better with time.
Lastly, Nicholas Baer hit two of his three attempted shots from downtown, and earned his other basket by beating Penn State down the floor for an easy layup in transition.
Overall, Penn State did not look like a Big Ten team. They looked about as good as Coppin State or Western Illinois last night. Iowa didn't play their best game, but that was still good enough to win by 24 and move the Hawkeyes to #1 in Kenpom's rankings.
Next Iowa heads to Champaign to face a severely battered Illinois team. If Iowa's plays to their capabilities, they should be 10-1 in Big Ten play by the end of the weekend.