Penn State basketball has no margin for error if they hope to get off the big doughnut in the “W” column in the Big 10. There have been games where they have been close. Some nights it’s the defense, some nights, the shooting, some nights, free throws. Tonight in Iowa City, a new culprit reared its head. Turnovers.
Things started out well enough for the Lions, racing out to a 10-3 lead behind three point shots from Brandon Taylor and Jermaine Marshall. But coming out of the first media timeout of the Hawkeyes found their rhythm, and Penn State’s offense caught up with them. Iowa would score 14 straight points, aided by missed shots, offensive rebounds, and yes, turnovers. All told, the Lions committed 11 of them in the first half, as the Hawkeyes would go to the halftime break with a 34-26 lead. If you were to look across the rest of the stat sheet, the Lions were not awful. The shooting percentage was where it has been all year (35%), but the defense was strong, holding Iowa to just 39% from the field, and 20% from three. Those 11 turnovers were the difference in an otherwise even half.
The second half started out about how the bulk of the first half went. D.J. Newbill turned the ball over, and the Hawkeyes went down the floor and hit a three to open up an 11 point lead. Then a funny thing happened. Instead of folding, the Lions rattled off 8 straight to pull within 3 points just 3 minutes into the half. PSU would hang around for the next few minutes, until a 9-0 run would open up a lead that PSU would never seriously threaten.
Newbill lead PSU with 20 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists, but also lead the team with 5 turnovers. All told, the Lions committed 17 of them on the night. Jermaine Marshall contributed 15 to the cause. Pat Chambers continued search for a reliable 3rd scorer goes on, with no other player adding more than 8 (Brandon Taylor). Ross Travis’ continued descent into jump shooter continues to be worrisome, and makes you wonder just how healthy his knee truly is . Iowa did not shoot the ball particularly well (40%, 24% from three), but those turnovers, as well as 39 trips to the free throw line made up for their offensive struggles. Aaron White was dominant, however, scoring a career high 27.
Penn State gets a much needed weekend off, before returning home to face Purdue in the Jordan Center on Tuesday at 7:00. The Boilermakers at home present one of PSU’s better shots to get their first Big 10 wins the remainder of the season.
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