Iowa men’s basketball team rebounds from rebounding deficit in win over Penn State

At one point, Iowa trailed in the rebounding battle against Penn State, 22-6. After the final buzzer, the Hawkeyes led the battle on the glass, 37-34, and defeated the Nittany Lions, 68-51, in front of a sold-out Carver-Hawkeye Arena crowd.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa forward Keegan Murray attempts to dunk during a men’s basketball game between Iowa and Penn State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. Murray collected 15 points. The Hawkeyes defeated the Nittany Lions, 68-51.

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

The Iowa men’s basketball team’s five-point halftime lead over Penn State on Saturday didn’t distract the Hawkeyes from head coach Fran McCaffery’s message.

“We needed to be more physical and have more people crash the glass,” sophomore forward Kris Murray said postgame.

Based on Iowa’s play in the final 20 minutes, that message was received.

At one point, Iowa trailed in the rebounding battle against Penn State, 22-6. After the final buzzer, the Hawkeyes had won the battle on the glass, 37-34, and defeated the Nittany Lions, 68-51, in front of a sold-out Carver-Hawkeye Arena crowd. In the process, Iowa also rebounded from its two-point loss to Rutgers on Wednesday and moved back to .500 in Big Ten play.

“We had a tough road game that didn’t go the way we hoped,” McCaffery said postgame. “Then we get home at 3 a.m. and have a game on Saturday against a team that is really going to challenge you with their physicality, their ball movement, their talent and execution. The fact that we put together an effort like this, I think says a lot about the guys in that locker room.”

Iowa outrebounded Penn State 27-12 in the second half.

Combined with a defensive effort that held the Nittany Lions to 33 percent from the field — Penn State only hit one of its final eight shots — the Hawkeyes outscored their opponent by 12 points in the second half.

Six Iowa players secured at least three rebounds against Penn State. Sophomore forward Keegan Murray led the way in both points (15) and boards (eight) for the Hawkeyes. Three other Iowa players scored in double-figures.

Patrick McCaffery pointed out on Friday that he’s never played in a Saturday home game in college. The last time Iowa played at Carver on a Saturday was March of 2020 (when Patrick McCaffery was redshirting).

The redshirt sophomore connected on two 3-pointers in the first five minutes against the Nittany Lions on his way to 11 points.

“Hats off to Iowa,” Penn State head coach Micah Shrewsberry said. “… We hung around and kept it close in the first half. We talked about transition and rebounding would be the keys to the game. We were doing that in the first half, and then they flipped it on us. They really punished us on the glass in the second half. They were the tougher team tonight. They showed their makeup in terms of who they are and what they need to do to win.”

Big Picture

Iowa improves to 14-5 overall and 4-4 in the Big Ten after Saturday’s win. The Hawkeyes have not been above .500 in Big Ten play this season.

Penn State falls to 8-8 overall and 3-5 in the Big Ten after its loss.

Murray’s close down the stretch

Between the 11:26 and 2:20 marks of the second half, the Murray twins accounted for 19 of Iowa’s 21 points. Iowa’s lead grew from six to 15 during that stretch.

Keegan Murray, the nation’s leading scorer, only shot 4-of-12 (1-of-7 from 3-point range) from the floor against the Nittany Lions. But his one 3-pointer was a big one. A side-step shot from beyond the arc at the top of the key closed out the stretch dominated by the Murrays and iced Iowa’s win over Penn State.

“It’s amazing that he’s able to do that,” Fran McCaffery said of Keegan Murray staying calm on cold nights. “I thought he was off just a little bit. I don’t think he forced anything. But he didn’t hesitate on that, and that was the dagger.

While Keegan Murray, who played all 40 minutes, struggled from the floor, Kris Murray picked up some slack.

Kris Murray finished with 13 points (3-of-5 3-pointers) and four rebounds off the bench.

“I have a lot of confidence in my shot, and they were playing me pretty low,” Kris Murray said. “So, coach and our captains told me to let it fly because they have a lot of confidence in my shot.”

Bohannon regaining confidence

Sixth-year Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon hung his head walking out of the locker room after Iowa’s loss to Rutgers. And, for perhaps the first time in his lengthy collegiate career, the Big Ten’s all-time leader in 3-pointers lost confidence in himself.

Bohannon hit only four of his 18 3-pointers in Iowa’s last two games against Minnesota and Rutgers.

“This is probably the first time in my career where I kind of doubted myself,” Bohannon said. “Against Minnesota and Rutgers, I was getting the ball late in the shot clock and I wasn’t my normal self.”

Ahead of Saturday’s game, Iowa’s coaches attempted to get Bohannon back to his normal self. They showed Bohannon an assortment of his big shots from his Hawkeye career. And Bohannon took note of the way he was playing when he was at his best.

“They showed me the cockiness and swagger I played with, and I need to get back to that because that’s myself,” Bohannon said. “I haven’t been myself these past couple games. I want this final year of mine — because this team is really special — to be special.”

The former Linn-Mar High School prep finished with 11 points and hit three of his seven 3-pointers against the Nittany Lions.

Up next

Iowa returns to Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday for a home game against No. 4 Purdue (15-3) at 8 p.m. The game will air on FS1.

The Hawkeyes lost their first matchup of the Boilermakers this season, 77-70, in West Lafayette.