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Penn State Hoops Defeats Iowa 83-79 On New Year’s Day

Penn State men’s basketball (11-3, 2-1 Big Ten) started the new year off with a win, taking down Iowa (8-6, 0-3 Big Ten) 83-79.

Jalen Pickett and Andrew Funk led the way for the Nittany Lions, scoring 26 and 20 points, respectively. Evan Mahaffey stepped up big to help Penn State close out the Hawkeyes.

How It Happened

Micah Shrewsberry selected the same starting five that earned the Nittany Lions their 60-46 win over Delaware State in the last non-conference game of the season on Thursday, December 29. Freshman Kebba Njie started at center.

Penn State started the game with an over-and-back call as Seth Lundy attempted to corral the tip to Jalen Pickett. Iowa’s Filip Rebraca capitalized and scored the first bucket of the night for the Hawkeyes.

Pickett started the contest on fire as he scored the first six points for Penn State heading into the first media timeout. The Hawkeyes held the edge early over the Nittany Lions 8-6 at the first stoppage of play.

Andrew Funk came out of the timeout and nailed a three-pointer to give the Nittany Lions their first lead of the night. Fellow sharpshooter Camren Wynter followed it up with a three-pointer of his own to bring the score to 12-8 in favor of Penn State.

Evan Mahaffey replaced Njie as the first substitute for Shrewsberry. Mahaffey made his presence known with a massive block on the defensive end. Both teams’ players were showing up early, as Pickett had 10 points and Iowa’s Kris Murray had eight at the second media timeout.

At the 8:24 mark, Pickett got things going defensively with a steal followed by an assist to Myles Dread. Dread’s first points of the game brought the score to 25-17 in favor of the Nittany Lions.

Iowa responded with its brotherly connection when Patrick McCaffery found Connor McCaffery wide open in the corner for the three.

Shrewsberry went deep into his bench early as Jameel Brown and Michael Henn saw extended game minutes in the first half. Dallion Johnson saw minutes off the bench as well.

Funk showed his range when he beat the shot clock with a beyond-NBA range three off the glass.

Penn State benefited from the Hawkeyes leaving their shooting stroke in 2022, as they struggled from the field throughout the first half, only shooting 32.3% from the field. Iowa shot a one for eight from deep as well.

Funk was quite the opposite for the Nittany Lions, not missing in the first half. Funk hit his fourth three-pointer of the night, bringing Penn State’s lead to 39-26 late in the half.

The Nittany Lions finished the first half strong with a Dread corner three at the buzzer, going up 18 points on the Hawkeyes. Penn State led 44-26 at the break.

Iowa responded early in the second half and went on a 5-0 run, forcing Coach Shrewberry to burn an early timeout. Wynter hit the first three of the half for Penn State, ending the Hawkeyes’ run. Lundy went scoreless in the first half but found the scoresheet in the second with a layup and corner three to extend the lead to 52-35.

Mahaffey was rewarded for his strong first-half performance as he was the first man to step on the hardwood in the second half. Njie picked up four fouls, limiting his game time.

Iowa found its shooting rhythm and Murray hit a three with 13:50 to go in the half, bringing the deficit to only nine at 54-45. Pickett took matters into his own hands, scoring consecutive buckets to build the lead to 61-45.

Pickett and Murray continued to go back and forth, both surpassing 20 points each before the 10-minute mark in the second half. Iowa was 5-0 entering this game when its star player reached the 20-point mark.

With seven minutes to go in the half, Iowa began to hurt the Nittany Lions on the offensive boards, tallying seven before the under-eight timeout. Mahaffey responded and put an Iowa defender in a spin cycle as he converted the bucket right before the stoppage of play.

Pickett drilled another jumper at the buzzer bringing his total to 24 points, a season-best. Iowa got within seven points just a minute later after a three-pointer from the top of the arc as McCaffery brought the score to 76-69 in favor of the Nittany Lions.

With 2:16 to go in the game, Mahaffey fouled Murray to send him to the line, however, the Hawkeye only converted one of his attempts. The Nittany Lions still led 78-70, but Dread traveled and turned it over to the Hawkeyes on their next possession.

McCaffery was fouled on a floater and brought the score to within six points, but missed the attempt. Tony Perkins nailed a three with 1:27 on the clock to cut the score to 79-75. Murray then grabbed an offensive rebound and laid it back in to make it a one-possession game with under a minute to go.

Pickett was fouled with 30 seconds left and made both of his attempts to stretch the lead to 81-77. Murray continued to carry his Hawkeye teammates by adding two more points on a put-back on the next possession.

Funk went to the line with 12.9 seconds remaining but missed the free throw and it gave Iowa a chance to win the game on the last possession, but Lundy came in with the steal in the final moments and nailed the free throws to secure an 83-79 victory.

Takeaways:

  • Penn State showed how many guys can put the ball in the bucket in this game. The Nittany Lions had three different players reach double digits scoring. However, the Nittany Lions struggled to play with a lead in the second half despite a strong first-half performance.
  • Andrew Funk continued to show why he was brought in by Shrewsberry from Bucknell. The fifth-year senior continued to shoot the lights out from beyond the arc. Funk and others will need to continue to stay hot as Big Ten play ramps up.
  • The biggest weakness of this Penn State team is its lack of size. Iowa was able to grab offensive rebounds in this game. Shrewsberry and company will need to tighten up this facet of the game as the season rolls on.

What’s Next?

Penn State will hit the road to face Michigan in Ann Arbor. The Nittany Lions square off against the Wolverines at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, January 4. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.

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About the Author

CJ Gill

CJ is a freshman from McVeytown, Pennsylvania majoring in broadcast journalism. His entire happiness revolves around PA sports. He will definitely be watching the World Cup every day for the next month. You can contact him via email at [email protected] or follow him on twitter @CJGill14 and Instagram @cj_gill11.

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