Iowa men’s basketball to take on Penn State in State College

The Hawkeyes and Nittany Lions will meet for the second time in just over a week.


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.

Ben Palya, Sports Reporter

For the second time in just over a week, Iowa men’s basketball is facing off against Penn State. The Hawkeyes beat the Nittany Lions, 68-51, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Jan. 22.

The first matchup between the Hawkeyes and Nittany Lions was a bit more competitive than the final score implies. 

Iowa led by just six points with a little over seven minutes remaining in the second half. Then, the Hawkeyes outscored the Nittany Lions 12-2 in the last five minutes of the game.

The Nittany Lions have dropped their last three games, counting their most recent loss to the Hawkeyes. Penn State hasn’t won a game since Jan. 11.

Penn State ranks last in the Big Ten Conference in total offense, averaging just 65 points per game.

Despite the ranking, Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery believes Penn State’s offense isn’t totally inept.

“This is a really hard team to defend because they run really good stuff,” McCaffery said after his team beat the Nittany Lions earlier this month. “So, anything short of [maximum] effort and they are going to beat you.”

Unlike Penn State, Iowa has one of the Big Ten’s best offenses. The Hawkeyes rank second in the Big Ten and seventh in the country in total offense. Iowa has scored about 83 points per game this season.

The Nittany Lions’ third-ranked defense is what helped them hold the Hawkeyes to just 68 points and 40.74 percent shooting a little over a week ago.

Iowa’s lack of offensive production against Penn State Jan. 22 can also be attributed to the slump Hawkeye forward Keegan Murray is muddling his way through.

The sophomore was once the nation’s leading scorer. He’s since dropped to 10th in the country in scoring.

In four of his last five games, Murray has failed to put up more than 15 points. In three of those contests, he shot worse than 37 percent from the floor.

In games that have seen Murray score 15 points or fewer, the Hawkeyes are 0-3.

Both Iowa and Penn State have yet to defeat any Associated Press Top 25 foes this season. The two squads are a combined 0-7 against rated competition. The Hawkeyes have dropped four games to ranked teams, and the Nittany Lions have lost to three rated opponents.

CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm has projected the Hawkeyes to be an NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament 12-seed. Penn State is estimated to miss the big dance in Palm’s latest bracket.

Counting their matchup with the Nittany Lions Monday, just 10 games remain on the Hawkeyes’ schedule. Iowa has just over a month to improve its tournament résumé and get a better postseason seed.

Tipoff between Iowa and Penn State is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pennsylvania. The contest will air live on the Big Ten Network.

“The next game on our schedule is Penn State,” McCaffery told The Cedar Rapids Gazette Sunday. “It wouldn’t be any different if it was Michigan or Michigan State. We practice, we focus, we watch tapes. We try to strengthen some areas that we weren’t so good at in the last game.”