Penn State vs. Iowa Preview

Story posted February 16, 2016 in Sports, CommRadio by Joseph Esquivel-Murphy

After a poor offensive performance against Nebraska, the Nittany Lions return to the Bryce Jordan Center Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. to take on the fourth ranked Iowa Hawkeyes. Penn State looks to get back to .500, while Iowa try to keep pace atop the Big Ten.

Offense was the main concern against Nebraska, as Penn State shot 38.2 percent from the field, including a 6-23 performance from the three-point line. Senior forward Brandon Taylor was the lone bright spot in the loss as he scored 14 points on only nine shots.

Taylor has been Penn State’s most consistent performer, as he has scored at least 10 points in every conference game this year. He has a tough matchup against potential Big Ten Player of the Year Jared Uthoff, though Taylor was able to outscore and outrebound the longer Uthoff in Penn State’s 24-point loss to Iowa on February 3rd.

Sophomore guard Shep Garner needs a bounce back after a 3-14 performance against Nebraska, including missing all seven of his three-point attempts. If Penn State wants to upset Iowa, they need Garner to have an efficient game scoring and distributing the ball.

Garner’s matchup with Mike Gesell is an interesting one as the two players affect their team in different ways. Gesell likes to get his teammates involved and only shoots when his team needs him, while Garner seeks out his shot first, but is adept at getting his teammates involved.

Defending the three-point line is vital for the Nittany Lions, as Iowa is a dangerous team from behind the arc with three players shooting better than 40 percent from behind the line. The Blue and White did a decent job of defending the three-point line against Nebraska, except when Andrew White was shooting the ball.

White went 6-10 from behind the arc as part of his game-high 35 points. Excluding White, Nebraska only scored 35 points and went 2-8 from behind the arc.

Iowa guard Peter Jok could have an impact like White had if Penn State does not close out on him. Over his past five games, Jok is averaging 20 points per game and is shooting better than 50 percent from behind the arc.

The wing trio of Payton Banks, Josh Reaves and Devin Foster will be tasked with slowing down Jok and Anthony Clemmons. Reaves had a solid performance off the bench with six points and a pair of steals, while Banks hit a pair of threes and secured two rebounds.

Foster struggled against Nebraska as he went 1-6 from the floor and only had three assists. He needs to perform better as Clemmons is one of the most underrated guards in the Big Ten.

Jordan Dickerson and Julian Moore need to crash the glass frequently in order for Penn State to be successful. Dickerson had a solid performance against the Cornhuskers, as he was perfect from the floor and blocked three shots.

Moore had minimal impact as he missed both of his shot attempts, but he needs to make an impact on Iowa center Adam Woodbury. Woodbury has been a consistent force on the glass over the past few games, as he has grabbed at least nine rebounds in four of his last five games.

Penn State plays well at home and the home crowd will energize the players, but Iowa is too talented. Taylor will keep the Nittany Lions close, but it will be too much for him to carry this team to victory.

Joseph Esquivel-Murphy is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism and Spanish. To contact him, email jje5139@psu.edu.