Defense pivotal in Iowa men’s basketball team’s 68-51 win over Penn State

The Hawkeyes forced the Nittany Lions to turn the ball over 17 times Saturday afternoon.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa forward Kris Murray attempts to block a shot during a men’s basketball game between Iowa and Penn State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. The Hawkeyes deflected five shots. The Hawkeyes defeated the Nittany Lions, 68-51.

Ben Palya, Sports Reporter

Just three days after it held Rutgers to 48 points in a game, the Iowa men’s basketball team’s defense put the clamps on Penn State.

The Hawkeyes, who have the 14-team Big Ten Conference’s 13th-ranked defense, surrendered just 51 points to the Nittany Lions Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. By the time the final buzzer sounded, Iowa had a 68-51 advantage over Penn State.

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery attributed the Hawkeyes’ solid defensive performance to their effort and intensity.

“They’ve had really impressive effort and communication,” McCaffery said of his team’s performance postgame. “This is a really hard team to defend because they run really good stuff. So, anything short of that kind of effort and they are going to beat you.”

Penn State currently ranks last in the Big Ten in overall offense and third in total defense.

Counting their loss to the Hawkeyes Saturday, the Nittany Lions are now 3-5 in conference play. Iowa is 4-4 against league opponents this season.

One of the players that made life particularly difficult for Penn State Friday was Iowa guard Tony Perkins. The sophomore from Indianapolis didn’t fill up the stat sheet, posting just four points and four rebounds. Still, Perkins’ effort didn’t go unnoticed by Penn State head coach Micah Shrewsberry.

“Tony Perkins’ rebounding really hurt us,” Shrewsberry said. “What he did was key.”

Iowa finished Saturday’s contest with nine steals and five blocks.

The Hawkeyes also won the turnover battle by seven. Penn State committed 17 turnovers to Iowa’s 10 Saturday.

“Our defensive intensity has been a lot better the last few games,” sophomore forward Kris Murray said. “We try to feed off getting stops. So, when we get more and more in a row we all stay connected.”

While Iowa has performed well on the defensive end in its last two games, the Hawkeyes have been underwhelming on offense.

Iowa ranks second in the Big Ten in scoring offense, averaging 83.9 points per game. In their last two contests, Iowa’s netted 57 points per game.

Iowa’s next game will pit it against No. 4 Purdue. The Boilermakers lead the Big Ten in scoring this season, putting up 85 points per game. Purdue currently ranks ninth in the Big Ten in total defense.

Tipoff for Jan. 27’s Iowa-Purdue game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena is scheduled for 8 p.m. The contest will air live on FS1.

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