Melsahn Basabe scored 16 points as No. 16 Iowa pulled away from Penn State 82-70 on Saturday.
Roy Devyn Marble added 15, Aaron White 14 and Mike Gesell 13 as the Hawkeyes (19-6, 8-4) won their third straight Big Ten road game of the season for the first time since 1998.
"You have to beat them, you aren't going to outfight them," McCaffery said. "You throw it up, you drive it, you see if you can get fouls called and they called them."
Penn State (13-13, 4-9) was led by a game-high 22 points from D.J. Newbill. Iowa was able to limit Tim Frazier, the Nittany Lions' second-leading scorer, to 11 points. John Johnson also added 11.
Iowa shots 7 for 19 from 3-point range as Gesell nailed four of five attempts from beyond the arc. The Hawkeyes shot 31 for 40 from the free throw line which helped them pull away late.
"I think it was a kind of game where you had to get a feel for it," McCaffery said. "When you play Penn State, you know they're going to fight you, you know they're going to be physical.
"They were better at that than we were in the first half. We hit a bunch of shots early and softened a bit.
"The second half we were much tougher on the glass and playing through contact."
The game was tied four times in the second half before Iowa stretched it out from a 44-44 deadlock with a 14-4 run.
"With 13 minutes to go, we're going to throw it in, we're going to attack, we're going to push it," McCaffery said. "That's the aggressiveness with which we have to play. We kept our attack mentality. They called some fouls and we were in the double bonus."
Marble, the team's leading scorer at 16.5 points per game coming in, pumped in seven of those and Gesell converted on a 3-pointer from the corner to help the Hawks widen the gap.
Back-to-back misses by Marble and White gave Penn State life when Johnson reached the rim on successive drives to cut the Lions' deficit to 58-52.
Two free throws by Marble and another 3-pointer by Gesell stretched the Hawks' lead to 65-55.
The Hawks sank 16 of their last 17 shots to pull away from the Lions.
"That's a veteran team," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said about Iowa. "They're mature guys, they're men, their bodies are developed. A lot of guys can make plays, they share the ball, they make assists.
"Frannie does a good job. Those guys have bought into Iowa basketball."
Chambers credited Gesell for his marksmanship. Gesell took what was given to him.
"I consider myself a shooter," Gesell said. "Penn State collapses overall and doesn't allow you to drive. I was able to knock a few down."
McCaffery noticed. "You look at his (Gesell's) numbers and the way he's shooting. He's really playing well," McCaffery said.
Each team shot 40 percent and Iowa held a 40-36 edge in rebounding.
Chambers stressed Penn State needs three scorers to be successful. Newbill's 22 wasn't enough without additional support from Frazier and Brandon Taylor.
McCaffery thought that the Hawkeyes "did OK" stopping Penn State's attack.
"They're both really competitive they have a sense of when to go, when to shoot it," McCaffery said. "Timmy (Frazier) does great job of finding people. But they didn't shoot it well today; that didn't help him.
"Newbill is so powerful. This year he's playing as well as anybody in our league right now."
Iowa's White played just above his 13.2 scoring average. The 6-foot-9 forward was a force around the rim.
"That was a big key being able to rebound and get some easy stick backs," said White, whose seven rebounds tied Zach McCabe's total and was one behind Basabe's eight.