GAME NOTES: The Penn State Nittany Lions will try once again to post their first Big Ten Conference win of the season, as they take on the Iowa Hawkeyes at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday night.
Penn State was in the midst of a solid season a month ago, having closed out its non-conference slate with an 8-4 record, but in eight league bouts since the team has failed to record a victory, making it the only winless team left in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions most recently hosted nationally-ranked Ohio State, which handed them a 65-51 setback.
Even though it sits with an impressive 13-7 overall record, Iowa too has fallen victim to the Big Ten gauntlet, dropping five of seven league games. The Hawkeyes hit the road last week and suffered a pair of road losses to Ohio State (72-63) and Purdue (65-62 in OT), but now they return home where they have won 10 of 12 bouts this season.
Iowa leads the all-time series with Penn State, 23-13, and the teams have split the last 10 meetings.
Penn State never had a chance against Ohio State, as it put forth poor efforts from both the field (.362) and the foul line (.591), and lost the rebounding battle as well (39-25). Jermaine Marshall shot just 4-of-11 from the floor, but he still finished with 16 points, while D.J. Newbill added 15 points and six assists. It's no surprise that the Nittany Lions are stuck in last place when analyzing their numbers, as they rank last in the Big Ten in scoring defense (67.1 ppg), field goal percentage (.389), and 3-point field goal percentage (.276), and come in 11th in scoring offense (61.0 ppg). Newbill (15.5 ppg) and Marshall (15.1 ppg) have been a scoring duo, ranking sixth and seventh in the league in points per game, respectively, although neither shoots better than 41 percent from the floor. Newbill makes his presence felt elsewhere with 5.9 rpg and 4.0 apg, but he is also guilty of nearly four turnovers per contest.
Although Iowa trailed Purdue by 10 with less than eight minutes to play last Saturday, it ripped off a 19-7 run to take a two-point lead in the final minute only to allow the game-tying layup at the other end, and it couldn't outlast the Boilermakers in the extra session. The Hawkeyes ultimately fell due to their disappointing 19-of-61 (.311) showing from the field, but Mike Gesell made his presence felt with 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting. Roy Devyn Marble, Aaron White and Melsahn Basabe each scored 12 points in the setback. Iowa is generally a much more potent offensive squad, shooting 43.1 percent from the floor for 72.8 ppg (fourth-best in the league). Marble leads the way with 14.4 ppg, while White tacks on 13.4 ppg and 6.1 rpg while shooting greater than 53 percent from the field. Gesell chips in with 9.3 ppg and 2.8 apg, and the Hawkeyes as a team are tied for the conference lead with 16 assists per contest.
Despite the presence of two stellar scorers, Penn State lacks the supporting cast to keep the pressure off. Things have not gone the Lions' way on the road this season (0-4), and don't expect much to change against a pesky Hawkeyes squad in Iowa City.
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