The Big Ten is quite the minefield for top-ranked teams, and this season has been extra dangerous for squads with a single-digit number in front of their names.
But you'd be lying if you said you predicted fourth-ranked Iowa would fall at Penn State on Wednesday night.
Well, that's exactly what happened in Happy Valley, as the first-place Hawkeyes fell to the Nittany Lions in a 79-75 stunner.
Donovon Jack, Shep Garner and Brandon Taylor all had huge games for Penn State, scoring 19, 18 and 18, respectively. Meanwhile, Big Ten Player of the Year candidate Jarrod Uthoff had a tough shooting night, going 5-for-14 from the field. Iowa shot 41.2 percent from the field, went 8-for-24 from 3-point range and missed 10 free throws en route to just its third loss during conference play.
The Hawkeyes scored the game's first eight points and had a couple eight-point edges during the first half. But the Lions went on a 15-4 run to turn that eight-point deficit into a three-point lead with under five minutes till halftime. That first-half lead for the home team actually reached eight itself as Iowa went ice cold from the field, going without a made field goal for the final seven and a half minutes of the half, Penn State closing the half on a 25-10 run. The Lions shot 55.6 percent from the field in the first half, including going 7-for-14 from 3-point range, an impressive feat for a team that ranks last in the Big Ten in 3-point shooting.
Iowa never led in the second half, whittling the Penn State lead down to three in the early minutes of the period and getting the deficit down to two on multiple occasions in the final minutes. But again the Hawkeyes went cold from the field, going another seven and a half minutes without a made basket from the 8:55 mark of the second half to the 1:22 mark. A parade to the free-throw line kept them in it, Peter Jok hitting a pair to make it a 59-57 game with four and a half minutes left, but the Lions had an answer at every turn, hanging on to win even as Jok hit a few late 3s.
[SHOP BIG TEN: Get your Penn State gear right here]
It was the first home win over a top-five team for Penn State since 2011.
Jok had a big night for the Hawkeyes, scoring a game-high 28 points, though he needed to cast up 15 shots and 11 3-point attempts to get there. Jok and Uthoff were the only Hawkeyes in double figures, the rest of the team scoring just 28 points on 9-for-22 shooting.
Jack's 19 points were a career-high, as he, Garner and Taylor were the only Lions in double figures.
Iowa will almost surely drop out of the top five following the defeat. The Hawkeyes dropped to 20-6 overall and 11-3 in the conference with the loss. Iowa has shown vulnerability of late, losing two of its last three games and having trouble getting past Minnesota in its last victory. Next up is a game against red-hot Wisconsin next Wednesday.
For Penn State, it was the team's second straight home victory over a ranked opponent after defeating Indiana last week. The Lions improved to 13-13 overall and 4-9 in the Big Ten. Next up is a Saturday-afternoon trip to Rutgers.