UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Defense has been a big problem for the Iowa basketball team all season.
On Saturday night, the offense disappeared, too.
With star point guard Jordan Bohannon plagued by a virus, the Hawkeyes struggled in almost every facet of the game in going down to an 82-58 loss to an energized Penn State team at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Mike Watkins collected 19 points and 10 rebounds with Lamar Stevens adding 17 points and Tony Carr 16 to help the Nittany Lions defeat Iowa twice in a season for only the second time. They also did it in the 1994-95 season, but on that occasion the second win came in the NIT.
The Nittany Lions (16-9, 6-6 in the Big Ten) shot 54.7 percent from the field, thanks in large part to 10 dunks and 13 layups it was able to get against the Hawkeyes' defense.
But Iowa coach Fran McCaffery figured the bigger problem was what his team did — or didn’t do — at the offensive end.
“It seems like every time we started to get something going, something else went sideways,’’ McCaffery said in a postgame radio interview.
The 58 points was just one less than the Hawkeyes scored in the second half Tuesday against Minnesota and represented their lowest total of the Big Ten season. Their shooting percentage of 38.2 percent was their lowest since they hit at a 38.1 pace in a Dec. 4 loss at Indiana.
After making 12 3-point field goals against Minnesota, they made just one Saturday (in 10 attempts) and that one, by Bohannon, came in the opening minute of the game.
Bohannon clearly was affected by an illness that kept him on the bench for most of the second half.
“He’s a tough kid. He tried to gut it out …’’ McCaffery said. “I think he was just battling, battling, battling. They were playing him tough and he just ran out of gas. It got to the point where I wasn’t going to push him any harder so I just took him out. We’ve got a big game coming Tuesday night and need him healthy.’’
Bohannon played only 24 minutes, about 10 under his season average, and finished with three points and three assists.
“When it hits you that quick, it’s kind of tough,’’ forward Tyler Cook said in a postgame radio interview. “I commend him for coming out and doing what he could.’’
Cook led the Hawkeyes (12-13, 3-9 Big Ten) with 19 points with Luka Garza adding 13, but they got only 11 points out of their guards. McCaffery said Isaiah Moss, who had only four points, also was limited by a wrist injury.
It was a competitive game for seven minutes. When Cook scored inside off an assist from Bohannon, the score was tied at 14-14. But then a flurry of turnovers and missed shots allowed Penn State to reel off nine straight points.
“You can survive a 9-0 run …’’ McCaffery said. “But we struggled offensively at that point. I felt even in that stretch we got good shots.’’
Almost none of them fell. Over the next 11 minutes, the Nittany Lions outscored the Hawkeyes 33-12 to take a commanding 21-point lead just before halftime.
Iowa missed its first seven shots of the second half but seven straight free throws and a dunk by Cook chopped the deficit down to 14 (51-37). Then Penn State was off and running again, expanding the lead to as much as 25 on three consecutive dunks, one by Watkins and two by Stevens.