IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- Iowa has rallied around its defense this
season. On Wednesday, the Hawkeyes gave their best defensive
Mike Henderson scored 16 points and Erek Hansen added 15 as Iowa (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today; No. 23 AP) snapped a two-game losing streak by beating Penn State
65-38 on Wednesday night, holding the Nittany Lions to a season-low
Just how bad was it for Penn State? The Nittany Lions had more
turnovers (14) than field goals (13), shot 25 percent from the
field and scored just 10 points inside.
"We've been awfully good defensively all year, but this might
have been our best 40-minute effort," Iowa coach Steve Alford
said. "We've been really good defensively in this building all
Iowa (21-8, 10-5 Big Ten) took control midway through the first
half and led by double digits the rest of the way, as its defensive
pressure forced Penn State out of its rhythm and created easy
baskets on the other end.
The Hawkeyes typically play a methodical halfcourt offense,
relying on their defense to control the tempo. It's a formula that
works, Alford says, because his players have bought into the theory
that defense wins games.
"We've got a lot of upperclassmen, and they understand the
importance of that end," Alford said. "Tonight was as good we've
helped all year, and that's what good team defense does."
With the win, the Hawkeyes clinched a first-round bye for the
Big Ten tournament and moved one step closer to its first
undefeated season at home since 1965-66.
The Hawkeyes, who are 16-0 at home for the first time in school
history, finish up the regular season by hosting Wisconsin on
Saturday. Ohio State's win over Northwestern on Wednesday means
that if the Buckeyes beat Purdue on Saturday they will win the Big
Ten title, but Iowa can claim a share of its first conference crown
since 1979 with a win and an Ohio State loss.
"It was kind of bad, but we're just hoping for Purdue to
[win]," Henderson said.
Iowa buried any hopes the Nittany Lions (14-13, 6-10) had for a
comeback by opening the second half with an 11-0 run. Henderson
started the spurt with a fast break layup off a steal, a 19-foot
jumper and a putback, and Adam Haluska finished it with a long
3-pointer that gave Iowa a 41-17 lead with 15:24 left.
"You're not going to win many games shooting 25 percent," Penn
State coach Ed DeChellis said. "I thought offensively we were just
really bad tonight."
Iowa's reserves got plenty of playing time the rest of the way,
but Penn State was never able to get closer than 18 points in the
Travis Parker scored 13 points for the Nittany Lions. Despite
the loss, Penn State finished with its best conference record in
five years, coming off a 7-23 mark in 2004-05.
After a slow start, the Hawkeyes used their defense to ignite a
19-2 run. Hansen converted a three-point play and a basket to give
Iowa its first double-digit lead, 23-12. Greg Brunner followed with
a block, a save and an outlet pass that Jeff Horner used to bury a
3-pointer, and Haluska hit a 3 on the Hawkeyes' next possession to
push the lead to 29-12.
Iowa held the Nittany Lions to two points over a 10:34 stretch
during the first half and led 30-17 at halftime.
"It excites us when we hold teams under 40 points, and it
really does lead to a lot of good buckets on the offensive end,"