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120217-Iowa-PennSt-013

Iowa coach Fran McCaffery puts his head in his hands in frustration Saturday during the second half of a 77-73 loss to Penn State.

After-thoughts from Iowa’s 77-73 loss to Penn State:

--This was one of those games where it was really difficult to discern whether it was more a case of Penn State playing well or Iowa playing badly. It undoubtedly was some of both, but give the Nittany Lions some credit. They shot very well from 3-point range (12 for 23), played very rugged, physical defense and did an excellent job of not giving Jordan Bohannon any breathing room. Iowa’s defensive game plan called for them to limit Penn State’s mid-range game, possibly at the expense of giving some 3-point opportunities to a team that doesn’t ordinarily shoot a high percentage from out there. The Nittany Lions took full advantage of that.

--Tyler Cook really is coming into his own as an offensive force. The 6-foot-9 sophomore was unstoppable at times on his way to scoring 23 points while also collecting career highs of 12 rebounds and four assists. But, as Fran McCaffery noted, the Hawkeyes occasionally became preoccupied with getting the ball inside to Cook, which led to several turnovers. Cook himself was credited with five turnovers. Penn State coach Patrick Chambers was impressed, though. “He’s a great player,’’ he said of Cook. “It didn’t matter what we did, doubled him, tripled him. He found ways to score and get to the foul line.’’

--We’ve heard a great deal about how Cook has evolved as an outside shooter and is capable of making 3-point field goals. That’s the next step for him. He passed up a few wide open 3-point looks Saturday as Penn State sagged back to keep him from driving. If he can make a 3 every now and then, he’ll become even more dangerous. As it is, he has attempted only one all season.

--Freshman center Luka Garza played only 14 minutes (five in the second half) after getting burned several times by Penn State center Michael Watkins. It also probably didn’t help that he launched one ill-advised 3-point attempt. Garza is big and strong, but still needs some work at the defensive end of the floor.

--When Garza left the game in the first half, fellow freshman Jack Nunge went in at the center position after playing mostly at small forward this season. It looked as though sophomore Ryan Kriener may have lost his spot in the rotation. But when Nunge picked up a second foul, Kriener entered the game for the last few minutes of the first half and played extremely well. He made a nice pass to Nicholas Baer for a layup, then scored on a putback to cut the halftime deficit to five points. He also hit a big 3-pointer in the second half and had five points and four rebounds in seven minutes of playing time.

--Brady Ellingson played just six minutes in relief of Bohannon and didn’t even look to attempt a shot. He did hand out three assists and did not have a turnover, but he now has gone five consecutive games without scoring. The Hawkeyes have played 226 minutes and 16 seconds since Ellingson made a layup in the first half against Grambling State.

--Senior Dom Uhl again was the only scholarship player who did not play for the Hawkeyes. He has appeared in only half their eight games and played only 20 minutes all season.

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