February 03, 2018 08:45 PM
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (AP) - Penn State hasn't won this many games this early in nine seasons. The Nittany Lions could probably make the case they should have even more 'W's by now.
Mike Watkins scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his 11th double-double of the season and Penn State beat Iowa 82-58 on Saturday.
The rout was satisfying for the Nittany Lions (16-9, 6-6 Big Ten Conference), who've played well in most of their games. But they've watched other second-half leads evaporate and turn into losses.
Road games at Northwestern and Maryland come to mind. The most recent example? Penn State led No. 5 Michigan State by 12 with 15:23 left but lost 76-68 on Wednesday.
"I was concerned about our mindset coming into the game," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. "Man, did they really step up after that Michigan State game and came back to work. That's growth. That's a little bit of maturity."
Lamar Stevens added 17 points and Tony Carr had 16 for the Nittany Lions, who've won three of their last four.
Penn State seized control early when a dunk from Watkins with 12:39 left in the first half turned a 14-all tie into a 33-14 run. Carr fueled it with 12 points while Watkins had eight during the stretch to give Penn State a 47-28 halftime lead.
Meanwhile, the Hawkeyes - who made 12 3-pointers in their last game against Minnesota - struggled to shoot the ball with sharpshooter Jordan Bohannon sick.
Bohannon started the game but played only half of it and the Hawkeyes made just 38 percent of their shots on 21-for-55 shooting. Penn State's quick guards were able to hold the rest of Iowa's shooters to just 1-for-10 on 3-pointers.
"This team puts a lot of pressure on you at the point of attack," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "All the more reason we've got to get it moving."
Shep Garner hit his third 3-pointer to open the second half and Iowa trailed by as many as 25 and got no closer than 14 the rest of the way.
Tyler Cook led Iowa (12-13, 3-9) with 19 points and Luka Garza had 13 for the Hawkeyes, who have dropped seven of their last 10.
"We're making progress as a team," Carr said. "Coach is making progress getting us to compete."
Iowa: The Hawkeyes' continue to struggle on the road where they're 1-7 overall. That includes a 1-5 mark in enemy Big Ten arenas where the Hawkeyes have fallen by double figures each time. They'll play three of their final six on the road.
Penn State: If Penn State can continue to finish teams like they did Iowa, the program's best Big Ten finish in coach Patrick Chambers' seven years should be easily attainable with six games left.
A STREAK ENDS, ANOTHER CONTINUES
Bohannon entered the game with five or more 3-pointers in each of Iowa's last five road games. He hit one in the first minute to open the scoring but didn't get another long shot off until the start of the second half. He finished 1 for 3.
Iowa's record for consecutive free throws is still within Bohannon's reach, however. He's made 30 straight since Jan. 4 and is four away from tying Chris Street's 34-straight makes from the 1992-93 season. He did not attempt a free throw on Saturday.
WORRIED ABOUT COACH
Penn State Athletic Director Sandy Barbour has said she wants to see improvement in the Big Ten before the school decides to re-sign Chambers, who has a year remaining on the contract extension he signed two years ago.
Chambers said he's learned to not worry about wins and losses as much. His players see it differently, however.
"To be honest, I was definitely worried about coach when things weren't looking so good," Carr said.
Chambers is one conference win away from equaling his best regular-season mark.
WATKINS ON A ROLL
Watkins grabbed a defensive rebound with 13:40 to play in the second half and became just the second sophomore in school history to join Penn State's 500-rebound club. He's got 503 for his career.
Iowa hosts No. 5 Michigan State on Tuesday.
Maryland visits Penn State on Wednesday.
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Created: February 03, 2018 08:45 PM
(Copyright 2018 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)