The tougher team, Penn State coach Micah Shrewsberry said, sets the rules.
Iowa’s second-half performance against the Nittany Lions was the Hawkeyes crafting a constitution.
The 68-51 win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena was a total rewrite, Shrewsberry said, when the Hawkeyes went from being outrebounded and outfought in the first half to an aggressive hunt of the Nittany Lions in the second half.
Iowa (14-5 overall, 4-4 Big Ten) held Penn State to 32 percent shooting and outrebounded the Nittany Lions 27-12 after being outrebounded 22-10 in the first half.
“They flipped it on us,” Shrewsberry said. “They flipped it on us. They just punished us on the glass.”
It was the right response after Wednesday’s 48-46 loss at Rutgers. The Hawkeyes arrived home at 3 a.m. after the game — Jordan Bohannon said his car wouldn’t start in the cold, adding to his late night — and had to stew on a game in which so many things went wrong and yet they still had a chance to win.
“We needed to respond,” Bohannon said, and so the Hawkeyes did.
They led for almost 37 minutes, but the second half was all about the assertion of power.
“When people hit us in the mouth, we have to hit them back,” Bohannon said.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said he appreciated Shrewsberry’s description of his team.
“I think it's a real compliment to the players,” McCaffery said. “We had a tough road game, and it didn't go the way we had hoped, and (then) got home at 3 a.m., play an afternoon game on Saturday against a team that is really going to challenge you with their physicality, with their ball movement, with their cuts, with their talent and execution. So the fact that we were able to put together an effort like this I think says a lot about the guys in that locker room.”
“We’re a really tough group,” forward Kris Murray said. “We’re not going to let anybody out-tough us. That’s kind of been our mentality coming into the Big Ten season, and that’s kind of the mentality you see on the court, too.”
He laughed when someone described him as “mild-mannered.”
“It’s mild-mannered,” Murray said. “But we have a toughness about us, and I like it. I like it.”
Murray and twin brother Keegan combined for 19 points in Iowa’s 21-11 run that pushed the Hawkeyes’ lead to 64-49 with 2:20 to play.
“We were just out there hooping,” Kris said, smiling. “Kind of like the way we did when we were younger. But it was pretty cool to kind of see us contribute to end the game, and help us win.”
Iowa’s defense forced three shot-clock violations and a 10-second call against the Nittany Lions (8-8, 3-5). Penn State shot 33.3 percent for the game.
“Our defensive intensity has been a lot better, I would say, the last couple of games,” Kris Murray said. “I think we just kind of feed off that, by getting more and more stops in a row. I think when we do that, our defense is really good.”
The biggest difference, though, was in rebounding. Iowa led 30-25 at halftime, but the rebounding margin helped keep this a close game.
“Our defense was pretty good if you look at the numbers, but we just got destroyed on the glass,” McCaffery said.
“We just needed to be more physical and have more guys crash the glass,” Kris Murray said.
The Hawkeyes established that in the second half.
Keegan Murray led the Hawkeyes with 15 points. Kris Murray had 13 points. Bohannon and Patrick McCaffery each had 11.
Eight of the nine Hawkeyes who played scored. Connor McCaffery didn’t have a point, but had three rebounds and three assists in 16 minutes.
“They all stepped up,” Shrewsberry said. “It’s hard to beat somebody when they all step up.”
“Everybody that came in impacted the game some,” Fran McCaffery said.
“We definitely fought tonight,” Bohannon said.
The Hawkeyes are 3-1 at home now in Big Ten play — something, Bohannon said, that is important to climb out of that traffic jam in the middle of the conference standings.
“It’s important for us to stack home wins,” he said.
All about setting the rules.
“Those guys,” Shrewsberry said, “did what they needed to do to win.”