Nittany Lions handle Hawkeyes in conference opener

Penn State never trailed in its first Big Ten contest of the season, and Iowa failed to piece together offensive and defensive momentum in the loss.

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Nittany Lions handle Hawkeyes in conference opener

Iowa forward Tyler Cook reacts to a no-call against Penn State during an Iowa/Penn State men's basketball game in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017. The Nittany Lions defeated the Hawkeyes, 77-73. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa forward Tyler Cook reacts to a no-call against Penn State during an Iowa/Penn State men's basketball game in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017. The Nittany Lions defeated the Hawkeyes, 77-73. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

Iowa forward Tyler Cook reacts to a no-call against Penn State during an Iowa/Penn State men's basketball game in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017. The Nittany Lions defeated the Hawkeyes, 77-73. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

Iowa forward Tyler Cook reacts to a no-call against Penn State during an Iowa/Penn State men's basketball game in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017. The Nittany Lions defeated the Hawkeyes, 77-73. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

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Hawkeye men’s basketball’s first conference win of the season will have to wait.

Iowa (4-4) couldn’t capitalize on a late momentum-filled rally, and Penn State (7-2) won, 77-73, in the Hawkeyes’ Big Ten opener on Dec. 2 in Carver-Hawkeye.

Penn State had no answers for Tyler Cook. The sophomore scored 23 points (including a handful of thunderous slam dunks) and grabbed 12 rebounds, but fluidity was hard to come by for the Hawkeye offense.

“It was all throw it to TC, and he goes to work,” head coach Fran McCaffery said. “That’s not a motion offense. That’s not ball movement. That’s not screen movement. He was really good — that’s great — but we have to be able to play off of that and have others do some things.”

Iowa had some scoring contributions from Isaiah Moss (13 points) and Cordell Pemsl (10).

Penn State did contain Jordan Bohannon, however. The Nittany Lions held the sophomore to only 8 points on 3-of-6 shooting. Bohannon hit two of his four 3-pointers and dished out 4 assists, but he committed 3 turnovers.

“We got to free him up, no question about it,” McCaffery said. “He’s got to get more shots.”

For the Nittany Lions, Lamar Stevens led the charge, netting 22 points. Mike Watkins and Tony Carr added 19 and 16.

Penn State made 12 of its 23 3-point attempts, while Iowa struggled to find the mark from deep, shooting 4-for-12.

Adding to Iowa’s 3-point-shooting woes, the Black and Gold turned the ball over 18 times, 2 more turnovers than the Hawkeyes had assists.

“It was really tough, especially with me,” Cook said. “I had 5 turnovers today … points-rebounds wise, I did well, but I feel like I could have done a lot more to help us out today. I’m frustrated with myself.”

Cook’s 5 turnovers led the Hawkeyes’ mistakes, but five other players turned the ball over at least twice.

Turnovers combined with inconsistent shooting and defensive lapses created two polar-opposite game flows for the Hawkeyes. Iowa dug itself into an early hole to start the game, down 10 in the opening minutes, and the Hawkeyes were never able to command a single lead in the game.

“We have tendencies showing how great we can play,” Pemsl said. “We got to get rid of these slow starts and this on-and-off [play]. At Virginia Tech, we played a great first half [and] played one of our worst halves of basketball in the second half. This game, [Penn State] started 6-for-6 from the field, we turned it on when we were down 5 late in the game, but we need to bring that intensity to start every game or to start every half. Right now, we’re still trying to figure that out.”

Iowa doesn’t have a ton of time to erase its issues. The Hawkeyes have a short gap before returning to the hardwood on Dec. 4, when the team travels to Bloomington, Indiana, to take on the Hoosiers in a 7 p.m. contest. Indiana lost to Michigan on the road, 69-55, on Dec. 2.

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