Aaron White scored a career-high 27 points as the Iowa Hawkeyes held off the Penn State Nittany Lions 76-67 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
D.J. Newbill led Penn State with 20 points, six rebounds and four assists. The redshirt sophomore also contributed five of his team’s 17 turnovers.
Jermaine Marshall scored 15 points on 5-of-15 shooting, as the duo were again the only double-digit scorers for Penn State.
The Nittany Lions began furiously but fizzled soon after, jumping out to leads of 8-1 and then 10-3 early in the first half.
Brandon Taylor (eight points) hit his first 3-pointer, a welcome sign for the freshman who’s been struggling lately from the perimeter. Then after he hit a short jumper, which led to a Fran McCaffery timeout, Taylor and his teammates were jubilant as they returned to their huddle.
However, their exuberance wouldn’t last long.
“An 8-1 run on their part was unacceptable on our part to start the game,” said White. “I don’t think we came out with the mentality to put them away early.”
The Hawkeyes responded with a 14-0 run, which came during a five-minute scoreless drought for Penn State. White authored seven of the points during that stretch.
But it was a familiar recipe for Penn State (8-13, 0-9 Big Ten), as turnovers, missed shots and the free throw line kept the team from getting over the hump.
After Newbill cut the deficit 24-19 with 4:19 left in the half, the Hawkeyes went on an 8-2 run punctuated by two monster dunks involving freshman Donovon Jack.
Jack scored two points and gave Penn State coach Patrick Chambers decent minutes off the bench.
Melsahn Basabe (10 points, 10 rebounds) stealthily popped the ball out of Jack’s hands from behind, starting a fast break that led to a Roy Devyn Marble (eight points, five assists) dunk as Jack hustled back to attempt a block.
“Melsahn Basabe was terrific,” Chambers said. “The last four or five games, he’s been a beast. He was all over the glass, played really aggressive, dunking everything. He’s playing great.”
Then after a Marshall made jumper, Basabe received a nice pass along the left baseline and attacked the rim as Jack rotated. The freshman arrived a tad late but was just in time for Basabe’s poster dunk that made it 32-21.
Despite shooting just 34 percent from the field and accruing 12 turnovers, Penn State was within arm’s reach at the half down 34-26. The Hawkeyes (14-7, 3-5 Big Ten) shot just 39 percent in the half.
The Nittany Lions began the second half much like the first with a nice 8-0 run, but Iowa responded again with a 13-4 stampede that yielded a 52-38 lead with 12:45 remaining after two Anthony Clemmons’ free throws.
The Hawkeyes dominated from the foul line going 31-39 to the Nittany Lions’ 14-16.
From there, every Penn State rally was greeted rudely with a corresponding Iowa response.
“We’re playing hard. We’re playing together. We just need that one stop, or we need that one shot to go down,” Chambers said. “I feel like we’re getting better.”
Jon Graham continued his modest but nice play accumulating six points, four rebounds and two blocked shots. Sasa Borovnjak scored seven points on just 3-of-5 shooting and also nabbed four rebounds.
Newbill scored four straight late to cut the deficit to 69-62 with 1:30 remaining, but White responded with his own five-point flurry.
Each team shot 40 percent from the field in the game, however Penn State outshot Iowa from 3-point range 7 for 23 to 5 for 21.
“It wasn’t the prettiest game, and we didn’t execute that great, but a win is a win,” White said. “We’ll take good stuff from it, and we’ll break it down and see the bad stuff.”
Penn State will face Purdue (11-10, 4-4) at the Bryce Jordan Center, Tuesday at
7 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.
Notes: Big Ten Network’s new series, BTN LiveB1G, continues Tuesday, Feb. 5, with stories highlighting how the Penn State community is making an impact in State College and around the world. The program will air at 9:30 p.m. In addition, Nittany Lion Basketball Coach Patrick Chambers explains his long-standing roots in State College.