Patrick Chambers takes his Penn State Nittany Lions on the road to Iowa City to face the Hawkeyes, still in search of their first Big 10 conference win. The Nittany Lions enter the game 8-12 overall, and 0-8 in the league. In his third season with Iowa, Fran McCaffery has his squad at 13-7 overall, with a 2-5 mark in the Big 10. The game tips at 8:00 on ESPNU.
THE LAST TIME OUT
Penn State hosted then #14 Ohio State Saturday, before a national TV audience on ESPN2, and the largest crowd to see the Lions at home this season. Both teams were hot on the offensive end to start, with the score tied at 11 just 5 minutes in. The Buckeyes would go on an 15-1 run at that point, and PSU was fortunate to only trail by 11 at the break. PSU would hang around for much of the 2nd half, but never really threatened OSU, in part due to a surprisingly poor afternoon at the free throw line. For a team that shoots above 70% from the line, the Lions have struggled at some bad times from the charity stripe. By the time the final horn sounded, OSU claimed a 65-51 win. Jermaine Marshall lead the Lions with 16 points and D.J. Newbill had 15. As a team, PSU only turned the ball over 4 times, but was unable to overcome poor shooting all over the floor.
ABOUT THE HAWKEYES
In his third season on the bench, head coach Fran McCaffery finally has his Hawkeyes playing more of the up tempo style he desires. The victories have been few and far between in the league, but Iowa has played with most teams on their schedule, losing 3 of their 5 B1G games by 4 points or less, including their last game, 65-62 in overtime at Purdue. They have been very good at home as well. 6-6 G/F Roy Devyn Marble leads the way with over 14 points per game, with sophomore forward Aaron White right behind at 13 per game. Iowa is not a particularly good shooting club, at just 43.1% from the field, and just over 30% from 3. Only Marble (35.1%) is above the 35% mark from beyond the arc. Where the Hawks are very good is on the glass, averaging 40 boards per game.
As is the case with most games, PSU will need to control the tempo to stay in the game, but it will be crucial against a Hawkeye team that wants to run a little bit. PSU can count on Newbill and Marshall to get their points, but as Chambers implored earlier this week, he needs a third scorer. He singled out Ross Travis and Brandon Taylor as two guys that have that in them. Travis showed flashes of potential earlier in the season, but has been settling for jumpers, instead of attacking the basket. Taylor was PSU’s most reliable outside shooter, but the freshman has at times struggled with fouls, and now has lost his shot. Perhaps no player on the Lions roster needs a break more than Taylor, who may be feeling the effects of his first collegiate season. Carver-Hawkeye Arena has not been particularly kind to PSU over the years, and I don’t expect much to change. This is one of those games that I think gets out of hand early, and stays that way. Iowa wins big. But at least we’ll always have that enjoyable 38-14 win this past fall.
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