If Penn State needed a good gut check, it passed it on New Year’s Day. Penn State led Iowa by 18 points at halftime and had every reason to feel good about securing another win on its home court on Sunday, but Iowa made a serious run at the Nittany Lions in the second half. But each time Iowa cut things razor sharp on the scoreboard, Penn State responded and that led to a hard-earned 83-79 victory for the Nittany Lions, improving its record to 11-3 this season overall and 2-1 in the Big Ten as 2023 was ushered in on a winning note.
Penn State controlled and frustrated Iowa in the first half and led by a score of 44-26 at the break. But Iowa chipped away in the second half with Kris Murray’s game-high 32 points leading the way. Iowa came within a basket of Penn State twice in the second half but Jalen Pickett and Seth Lundy each came through on the free throw line in the final minute with four combined free throws made to help keep Penn State ahead of the Hawkeyes by just enough.
Pickett led the Nittany Lions with 26 points to go with his seven rebounds and six assists and one steal. the 26 points scored by Pickett is his personal best since joining the Penn State program last season. Andrew Funk was the team’s second-leading scorer with 20 points fueled by five three-pointers. Lundy, who recorded a double-double in his last game, added 10 points and five rebounds. Penn State also got 14 points from Camren Wynter to have four starters have double-digit point totals.
Myles Dread contributed seven points off the Penn State bench and is now just two points shy of the 1,000-point mark for his career.
Next up for Penn State is a road trip to Michigan. The Nittany Lions tipoff with the Wolverines on Wednesday night on the Big Ten Network. Michigan improved to 8-5 this season with a thrashing of Maryland in Ann Arbor on Sunday. Michigan blew out Maryland 81-46.
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