In their Big Ten season opener, Iowa was never able to get over the hump against Penn State on their way to a frustrating 77-73 loss, their first at home against the Nittany Lions since 2001.
While the game was close for the majority of all 40 minutes, it was marred by Iowa’s inability to draw even or take a lead after the opening seconds - the last time Iowa was even tied with Penn State was a minute into the game, when Mike Watkins made a layup to put the Nittany Lions ahead 4-2. Every time Penn State needed a response to a big Hawkeye basket, they seemed to come up clutch. If Iowa brought the game to within a basket, the Nittany Lions made a big basket to keep the Hawks at an arm’s length. If they were unable to come up with a bucket to extend their lead, Iowa just couldn’t come up with an equalizer.
Tyler Cook almost single-handedly kept the Hawks afloat at times throughout the game, and without him, this one is surely not as close as it was. The sophomore forward finished the afternoon with 23 points on 7/13 shooting, including a solid 9/13 from the line, and 12 rebounds. Isaiah Moss added 13 points on 6/13 shooting, while Cordell Pemsl (10) was the only other Hawkeye scoring in double figures.
The Hawks shot the ball well for the majority of the evening, but their performance was marred by an inability to keep possession of the ball and the ability for Penn State to hit big three-pointers. The Nittany Lions shot 12/23 from range, compared to Iowa’s 4/12, and Iowa turned the ball over 18 times, nine in each half. Both of these largely happened because of ball movement - Penn State moved the ball well most of the evening, making the extra pass to find wide open shooters over and over again, while Iowa spaced the floor poorly and looked content letting one or two players do all the work on any given possession.
Some quick notes:
- Jordan Bohannon was never able to get into the flow of this game. He shot 3/6 from the field, including 2/3 from beyond the arc, but looked tentative when putting his shots up. He did lead the team with four assists, but also committed three turnovers.
- Tyler Cook had a phenomenal game, including a dunk where he absolutely posterized a PSU defender. The one area he struggled? He committed five turnovers.
This is a felony in 38 states. pic.twitter.com/mQMf6JhsFA— Big Ten Geek (@bigtengeek) December 2, 2017
- Iowa used a lineup at one point in the first half that included Brady Ellingson, Maishe Dailey, Cordell Pemsl, Ahmad Wagner, and Jack Nunge. It was interesting, although without a true point guard, it struggled offensively.
- Ryan Kriener might have arguably been one of Iowa’s two most important players in this game, alongside Cook. Kriener came in late in the first half and was an immediate spark plug for a team desperate for an energy guy. He left for the locker room early after getting hit in the face by a falling Penn State defender, but finished with five points, four rebounds, and two assists in seven minutes.
- The chemistry just doesn’t look to be there yet, and that might be a result of Fran tossing out so many combinations. It’ll be interesting to see if his bench shortens a bit sometime soon, and if that ends up being beneficial for this team.
- Iowa needs a backup point guard like I need air to breathe. Someone is going to have to spell Bohannon, and the Connor McCaffery injury and Christian Williams transfer are showing their impact.
Iowa travels to Bloomington, IN for their next matchup against Indiana (4-4, 0-1), who lost to Michigan early Saturday afternoon.