The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa men’s basketball triumphs, 90-81, in historic fashion over Penn State Tuesday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena

Highlighted by Payton Sandfort’s triple-double, the Hawkeyes featured two more career milestones as they avenged their Feb. 8 loss to the Nittany Lions.
Grace Smith
Iowa forward Payton Sandfort celebrates during game one of the Hy-Vee Hawkeye Showcase between Iowa men’s basketball and Florida A&M at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Rattlers 88-52.

The Iowa men’s basketball team moved to 9-9 in Big Ten play as it trounced Penn State, 90-81, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Tuesday night. 

Forward Payton Sandfort notched the first triple-double in Iowa men’s basketball history, logging 26 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists as well as three blocks. Guard Josh Dix finished with 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting. Forward Patrick McCaffery surpassed 1,000 career points while Ben Krikke reached the 2,000 career points mark. 

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“We played these guys a couple of weeks ago and they played better than we did. Tonight, we played better,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said postgame. “We had some really impressive individual performances … Just really proud of the guys.”

Iowa got off to a sloppy start on both sides of the ball, committing a turnover and allowing a putback off the offensive rebound in the first minute of the game. But the Hawkeyes quickly responded with a 14-2 run over the next 3:36, with Dix being responsible for eight of those 14 points. 

Though the Nittany Lions started to find some sort of momentum after their cold start, the Hawkeyes continued their offensive surge, notching assist after assist that included a sweet Brock Harding zip-pass to a patiently waiting Owen Freeman under the basket as they led, 29-12, through the first 10 minutes of play. 

Iowa’s offense eventually hit a roadblock as Penn State became increasingly aggressive on both ends. The Hawkeyes scored just six points on 1-4 shooting over the next three minutes before pouring in five quick points to grab a 12-point lead with five minutes left in the first half. 

However, the Nittany Lions made seven of nine shots while the Hawkeyes went scoreless for over three minutes as the lead was quickly cut to just seven. The last couple minutes saw sloppy mistakes from both teams as Iowa entered the break up eight, 47-39.

Dix led the way for the Hawkeyes with 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting – his lone miss coming in the last minute of the half. Freeman followed up with eight points and six rebounds as eight of nine Iowa players contributed points through the first 20 minutes. 

Penn State put up a feisty 8-4 run in the first 2:03 in the second half. But Iowa responded swiftly with an 11-5 run to push the lead back up to double digits. The lead was then cut once again to just five until Payton Sandfort’s dime to a cutting Tony Perkins and his signature pull-up three locked in a double-double for himself while impelling a 68-58 lead through eight minutes of play in the second half. 

The momentum didn’t stop there for Iowa as a Ladji Dembele three-pointer and a full-court touchdown pass to a wide-open Sandfort further extended the lead back up to 15 over the next three minutes. 

The Hawkeye offense went cold once again, failing to convert a field goal in over four minutes and going scoreless for over three minutes. But with the help of a Sandfort block and Perkins steal, the Iowa defense kept the lead at arms reach as Penn State shortened the lead to 79-71 during that span. 

“I wish we could just put a team away,” Patrick McCaffery said of Penn State’s multiple comeback attempts. “It’s kind of been our bugaboo all year, something we haven’t been great at. So I wish we could, you know, be a little better at that. But we kept them at bay.”

Sandfort’s second triple of the game cut the dry spell and pushed the Iowa lead to 11 with just under three minutes remaining. Sandfort grabbed his 10th rebound with 21 seconds remaining to notch the first triple-double in Iowa men’s basketball history – a fitting ending for a crucial 90-81 win. 

“I didn’t really know [how close I was],” Sandfort said after making history. “I thought I was close to a double-double. I told one of the coaches before the game I would get ten rebounds, then [the coach] was like, ‘Hey, get one more rebound.’ 

“[I said], ‘I got you.’ He’s like, ‘No, get one more rebound.’”

Injury update 

Iowa reserve guard Dasonte Bowen is averaging 4.4 points and two assists per game this season but hasn’t played since Feb. 14 against Maryland. The last time the second-year guard logged more than 10 minutes was on Jan. 24. Following Tuesday’s win, Fran McCaffery said Bowen’s lack of action has been due to a “lingering” knee injury that will keep him out for the rest of the season.

The head coach said Bowen tried to play through the ailment at first, but added that the injury only got worse. Surgery is scheduled in the next two to three weeks.

“We’re all pulling for him as he goes through that difficulty because he’s a really terrific young man,” he said of Bowen.

Up next 

Iowa hits the road for another weekend trip to Illinois, but this time to Evanston to take on Northwestern. The Wildcats are 19-8 on the season and third place in the Big Ten.

Head coach Doug Collins’ squad has won four of their last five contests entering Feb. 28 and is headlined by star guard Boo Buie, who averages a team-best 18.9 points and 5.2 assists per game while shooting 46.3 percent from the floor.

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About the Contributors
Chris Meglio
Chris Meglio, Sports Reporter
Chris Meglio is a first year student at the University of Iowa studying a double major in sport studies and journalism. He will be working as a sports journalist for The Daily Iowan covering women's volleyball for the fall sports season.
Grace Smith
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.