Another Thursday, another slate of NCAA basketball short on Big Ten games. There were only two contests tonight for the conference: Penn State took on Canisius and Iowa traveled to Ames to take on fourth ranked Iowa State. Iowa suffers their (hopefully) most painful loss of the season after jumping all over Iowa State, while Penn State took down a Canisius squad that is now 3-6 in the MAAC.
Game of the Day: Iowa State 83, Iowa 82
Oh no, Iowa. The Hawkeyes led the Cyclones by as many as 20 (!) and ended up blowing the game. After somewhat disappointing losses to Dayton and Notre Dame at home, a win in this one would have been the out of conference resume builder that top four or five seeded teams usually need.
No lead is safe in Ames, but the way Iowa played in the first half made it seem like they actually would be able to run away in the second half: Jared Uthoff looked like Dirk Nowitzki on his way to a career high 30 points in the first 20 minutes (he would finish with 32) and the Hawkeyes came out with a gameplan that totally took their opponent out if its element. Iowa State looked totally out sorts for the first twenty or so minutes until they didn't.
Iowa played better for most of the game, but the Iowa State transition attack eventually just wore the Hawkeyes down. They were clearly dragging by about the eight minute mark and just couldn't get down the floor quick enough. The Cyclones pulled within single digits at about the nine minute mark, but Iowa looked like they'd be able to fend of their rival just long enough to eek out a scary victory, before they ultimately broke down on both sides of the ball at around the five minute mark. They lost the stretch runs of both halves, which is never a good thing against good teams on the road. Iowa State cut the lead by six in the last couple minutes of the first half and ended the game on a 9-0 run.
If the Hawkeyes somehow end up jockeying for a 5, 6, or 7 seed (or if they somehow end up a bubble team), then this game is somehow gonna hurt even more. Especially when you realize that it still took some untimely turnovers (including a painful five second call and a shot clock violation) and a horrible last shot to seal the deal.
Penn State, 81 Canisius, 67
Canisius is a mediocre mid-major and Penn State is probably gonna be a mediocre power five team. This game basically went that way. Penn State held a 15 point lead at half and lost the second half by one, but that was more a product of The Nittany Lions taking their foot off the gas than anything else.
Brandon Taylor led the way with 18 points and the team actually balanced the scoring pretty well, encouraging for them even against a not very good opponent. Four different Nittany Lions scored in double digits. Coolest thing about this game, though? Learning that Canisius' mascot is the Golden Griffin.
Thursday MVP: Jared Uthoff
Kind of disappeared in the second half, but even though he only scored two points doesn't mean he wasn't constantly freeing up dribbling lanes by drawing double teams. He certainly wasn't the reason the Hawkeyes went down tonight. Plus, that first half was some of the best basketball I've ever seen a Big Ten player play. On the road. In a rivalry game. Against the number four team in the country. He made his first seven shots, was lights out from behind the arc, and looked comfortable in and around the post. It was a joy to watch, even if you knew he'd inevitably cool down.