After a disappointing 1-2 trip to the Charleston Classic, the Nittany Lions were hoping to find some offense and get back to winning games in the friendly confines of the Jordan Center. Though the crowd was pretty subdued due to most of the students gone for Thanksgiving break, the Nittany Lions found all the scoring they needed and shot a blistering 63.8% from the field.
David Jackson had a career day with 26 points to go with 4 assists and 2 rebounds. Talor Battle was Talor Battle with 19 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists.
Impressions of the Game
This was the first time I've been able to watch Penn State this season, so I'll offer some of my impressions of the team for you.
David Jackson looked like a completely different player from the one we saw last year that at times couldn't even handle a pass or score an easy layup all alone under the basket. Not only was he showing off some nifty low post moves, he just looks bigger with more muscle tone. I doubt we'll see 26 points from him every game, but I see no reason why he can't be a legitimate second scoring threat to compliment Battle and average 15 or so per game.
Jeff Brooks started out looking pretty good. He was being really aggressive around the basket and scored four points in the early going. But he ran into foul trouble and Ed put him on the bench. He only logged 13 minutes on the night.
Brooks's foul misfourtune was Bill Edwards's gain. The true freshman has been seeing significant playing time despite suffering an MCL tear a few weeks ago. Although he wore a knee brace and obviously looked a step slow in his lateral movement, Edwards showed tremendous body control in traffic weaving his way to the basket. He made it look effortless in scoring 10 points in only 13 minutes. I can't wait to see this kid when he's 100% healthy again.
Tim Frazier showed flashes of brilliance here and there, but he also lost control once or twice and turned the ball over when he got in traffic and his plan didn't work out. I can see the comparisons to Stanley Pringle. Though Battle still logged 37 minutes in the game, Frazier was a huge help just moving the ball up the court and starting the offense. When Frazier and Battle were on the court together, Penn State was really able to push the tempo.
I was not impressed with Andrew Jones last night. Where was the guy that was collecting double-doubles in the NIT last year? Last night he only had 6 points and 4 rebounds in 32 minutes of play. If we're going to depend on Battle to lead the team in rebounds as he did last night with 8, we're in big trouble. On the night Penn State was outrebounded 26-21. Both teams were shooting well so there weren't many rebounds to get.
At times the team looked fantastic moving the ball around and finding the open man. But other times they looked like they struggled to find their identity and I couldn't really figure out what they were trying to do. This is what happens when you are giving heavy minutes to three freshmen. Ed was mixing and matching a lot of different combinations of players last night. At one point he tried a twin towers lineup with Andrew Ott and Sasa Borovnjak.
The defense needs a lot of work. Sacred Heart did a lot of bobbing and weaving and setting screens. Ed obviously told his guards to not even try to fight through them and to switch off. The Pioneers were able to get their shooters open. Corey Hassan and Chauncey Hardy absolutely killed them from the arc. They have to get faster in their rotations.