Upset In The BJC: Penn State Takes Down No. 4 Iowa 79-75
After dropping an ugly 70-54 decision to Nebraska on Saturday, the Penn State men’s basketball team (12-13, 3-9 Big Ten) took on the No. 4 Iowa Hawkeyes (20-5, 11-2 Big Ten) who entered the night atop the Big Ten standings. Unlike the last time the two teams met, however, the Nittany Lions were unfazed facing the national title contenders, shocking the Hawkeyes 79-75.
How It Happened
Penn State couldn’t find its range in the opening minutes and Iowa got off to a quick 8-0 start five minutes into the game. The early lead was cut once Shep Garner got going with back-to-back threes. Garner was heating up, often answering back to a Hawkeyes basket on the other end of the floor. He knocked down four from beyond the arc on his way to scoring 14 points in the opening half.
Jordan Dickerson took a hard hit that sent him to the floor in pain, but the senior center would continue to play on after a short injury timeout, and was key on defense as well as the boards through the rest of the first half. Penn State stepped up their game following the break, knocking down shots from all over the floor. Three after three fell, and the BJC erupted as the Nittany Lions opened up a seven point lead.
Donovon Jack played a crucial role in this run late in the first half. The senior forward averages 3.9 points per game ended the half with nine points. Jack was also a key factor in stopping Iowa’s high-scoring offense down the stretch in the first half, blocking the Hawkeyes’ Jarrod Uthoff and grabbing two boards.
The Nittany Lions went into halftime with a stunning 38-31 lead. Despite the slow start, Penn State rallied and had a clear shot at pulling off back to back home upsets of ranked opponents.
Brandon Taylor and John Wooden Award candidate Uthoff went back and forth scoring in the opening minutes of the second half. Taylor’s second half emergence was key in holding off the surging Hawkeyes as they attempted to cut into the halftime deficit.
The game became a gritty battle midway through the second half. Both teams struggled to break down each others defenses and the whistle was constantly sounded with with plenty of fouls for each side. The Hawkeyes went more than eight minutes without hitting a field goal, barely staying in the game with free throws.
Brandon Taylor was forced to the bench with foul trouble just five minutes from the finish with a four point lead. That moment had the power to change the game, but the Nittany Lions continued to fight. Much like their upset of Indiana, Penn State was forced to find every last bit of will to pull off this shocker.
Taylor returned to a single possession battle against the national title contenders with just 4:09 remaining and scored eight points in the final four minutes. Combined with another huge Jack block and some clutch free throw shooting all around, the Nittany Lions fended held off Iowa and iced the game for the 79-75 upset.
Player Of The Game
Donovon Jack | Senior | Forward
While we could give it to the whole bench — Penn State’s reserves totaled 29 points to Iowa’s 10 — the veteran dirty work player was the engine behind this win. A force on offense and a critical cog for the defense, Jack ended with a career-high 19 points — including this lucky circus shot — that propelled the Nittany Lions to their biggest win of the season.
— Penn State On BTN (@PennStateOnBTN) February 18, 2016
After shutting down the top team in the Big Ten, the Nittany Lions will head out to the Louis Brown Athletic Center for a clash with a Rutgers side that is winless in Big Ten play. The game will tip-off Saturday at 1 p.m. on ESPNU.