After steamrolling the Michigan Wolverines earlier in the week, Penn State came out flat against a confident Iowa Hawkeye team. The Nittany Lions squeaked out a 63-59 win, but looked disinterested playing in front of 12,210 at the Bryce Jordan Center.
The effort given by Penn State for 80 percent of the game was enough to walk out of the arena and never come back.
The Nittany Lions trailed Iowa by double-digits because of a lack of effort. This is inexcusable, especially when Penn State is better athletically and playing at home.
In the first 32 minutes of the game, sophomore point guard Talor Battle showed no urgency to cut into the 14-point Hawkeye lead. He walked the ball up the court, looked lost on defense, and he could not make a three pointer.
The Nittany Lions (16-5, 5-3 Big Ten) depended on the steady senior Jamelle Cornley to keep the deficit at a realistic margin. Cornley hustled up and down the court, struggled for every rebound and eagerly attempted to cause a turnover in the full court press.
Cornley's desire to win came pouring out when he felt that official Ed Hightower missed a call. Cornley voiced his opinion to Hightower and received a technical foul in return.
Iowa (12-8, 2-5) made both of the free throws resulting from the technical foul, but Cornley's actions energized the Penn State crowd. The fans had lots of bottled up energy to let loose.
The arena became loud and the crowd jumped up and down to Zombie Nation. The Nittany Lions would need more than just crowd noise to win, as they were still down by 13 points.
Penn State began its comeback a minute and a half later at the 8:05 mark. Battle picked up his pace, found his stroke and scored 11 points during the run. Cornley added 10 of his game high 24 points during this stretch. Stanley Pringle added a free throw to seal the victory.
The Nittany Lions erased the 13-point deficit and took a four-point lead with the 22-5 run. The Hawkeyes missed their last five shots from the field to finish the game.
Iowa shot 15-16 from the free throw line for the game. Jake Kelley led the Hawkeyes with a team high 19 points on 7-10 shooting from the field.
Penn State faces No. 7 Michigan State and Michigan on the road in its next two games. The Nittany Lions play four ranked opponents in their next six games.