Defense remains missing for Hawkeyes
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa has gone down some rough roads this season. The bumps and turns in Happy Valley might be some of the worst.
Penn State completed the season sweep with a resounding 82-58 victory over Iowa to send the Hawkeyes to their third loss of 20 points or more.
In keeping with the season’s consistent storyline, lackluster defense is the primary culprit for Saturday’s blowout loss.
The Hawkeyes showed poor defensive effort against Penn State, and the Nittany Lions exploited that. Although they cooled off late in the game, the Nittany Lions went on multiple runs where it seemed as though they could have made shots blindfolded.
Bad rotation in Iowa’s match-up zone led to open shots and clear driving lanes, which the likes of Josh Reaves, Tony Carr, and Lamar Stevens took advantage of.
That trio combined for 44 points on the night and also threw down a handful of thunderous dunks on the Hawkeyes. Nicholas Baer and Jack Nunge will likely find themselves on the wrong end of some flashy Penn State basketball posters in the near future.
No one was tougher to guard than Nittany Lions center Mike Watkins. Luka Garza and Tyler Cook couldn’t quite match the size and physicality that the 6’9, 254-lb center brought to the court Saturday.
Watkins finished with 19 points on 9-of-10 shooting from the field. He also had 10 rebounds to complete a double-double and three blocks.
In all, Penn State shot 54.7 percent from the field and was 33.3% from three-point range.
Iowa’s poor defense led to even worse offense. The Hawkeyes scored 57 points in the second half in their win over Minnesota on Tuesday, but they only managed a total of 58 Saturday.
Tyler Cook quietly filled the stat sheet for Iowa. He finished tied with Watkins for the game-high of 19 points. Cook also had six rebounds, three blocks, two steals, and an assist.
Jordan Bohannon got the scoring started with a three pointer in the game’s opening minute, but an apparent illness kept him limited for the rest of the game. He missed his only other two shot attempts and played just 24 minutes.
Without Bohannon in charge, the Hawkeyes never managed to get the offense into a rhythm. Garza finished with 13 points, but over half came from the free throw line (7-of-9).
Unfortunately, Iowa fans will have to wait at least one more game to see if the Hawkeyes can mend their defensive woes.
Iowa (12-13, 3-9 Big Ten) is back in action Tuesday when it plays host to nationally ranked Michigan State (21-3, 9-2). Game time is 8:00pm CST on ESPN.