IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa senior star Peter Jok had a surprisingly slow start on the day when the Hawkeyes honored him.
Once Jok got going, he went on a scoring tear that reminded Iowa why it's going to miss him so much.
Jok scored 20 of his 21 points in the second half — including 16 in less than eight minutes — and Iowa throttled Penn State 90-79 on Sunday, closing the regular season with four straight wins.
"There's no better time to click than March," Jok said.
Reserve Nicholas Baer added 20 with 10 rebounds for the Hawkeyes (18-13, 10-8 Big Ten), who finished above .500 in conference play for the third year in a row.
Jok, starting his final scheduled home game, missed most of the first half after picking up two quick fouls. But the Hawkeyes reeled off a 14-0 run without him, jumping ahead 47-33 on a Jordan Bohannon 3 just before the end of the half.
Jok then opened the second half with 11 points in just three minutes, helping negate four consecutive made baskets by Penn State after the break.
Jok's long 3 from the elbow made it 70-49 with 12:33 left. Jok was pulled with 45 seconds left, and he got a standing ovation as he walked to the bench.
"Sitting down calmed me down," Jok said. "The guys said they were going to find me so I just had to score."
Josh Reaves had 25 points for the Nittany Lions (14-17, 6-12). They went on a 12-0 run and later closed with five straight baskets to make the final score look closer than the game actually was.
"I knew they were a hot team. They knew what was at stake," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. "We couldn't get stops. They made tough shots."
Iowa: The Hawkeyes likely still have some work to do in next week's Big Ten Tournament. But the fact that they're in the NCAA Tournament discussion after a 3-5 start is remarkable — as was the fact that, on Senior Day, 43 of their 47 first-half points came from underclassmen. "We deserve to be in," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions had the Hawkeyes on their heels early, leading 25-24 at one point. But once Iowa found its footing, Penn State fell behind and never recovered. The Lions seem destined for a losing season barring a miraculous run in the Big Ten Tournament.
Senior Dale Jones, whose once-promising career at Iowa was derailed by injuries, got his first career start Sunday — and he opened the scoring for the Hawkeyes with a long 3. "That was an unbelievable feeling for me," McCaffery said.
BIG TEN SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR?
Baer certainly made his case Sunday. But Baer entered play as the only backup in the Big Ten with at least 200 points, 175 rebounds, 35 blocks and 40 steals. "He's relentless. He doesn't stop playing hard," Chambers said.
Freshman Cordell Pemsl had 14 points and fellow newcomer Tyler Cook had 11 with 10 boards. ... Mike Watkins had 17 points for Penn State. The Nittany Lions were just 8 of 28 from 3-point range, and they got just 14 points from their bench.
HE SAID IT
"He's one of the best players in the league. Without question," McCaffery said of Baer. "He's everywhere — and he's really smart."
The Big Ten Tournament in Washington, D.C.
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