One team came into the game ranked #10 and playing on their home court. The other team came in riding an eight game losing streak. So you could say things went about as well as we all expected it would. Purdue put Penn State on the ropes early and never really let them gather themselves.
The Boilers played some tenacious defense in the early going double teaming Talor Battle every time he got the ball. They extended the defense and forced him to give it up wherever he was on the court. But Penn State plugged away and kept it close with some good defense until midway through the first half when Penn State went on a seven minute scoring drought. I guess you can call it a sign of progress that they didn't really kill themselves with turnovers. They just couldn't get any shots to fall. But a little spark of offense led by Talor Battle driving to the lane and Bill Edwards pushing the fast break helped Penn State close the gap to just two points at the half.
You hate to see the half come just as your team goes on a run. It killed the little bit of momentum Penn State had going and allowed Purdue to regroup. Robbie Hummel scored nine points in the first two and a half minutes while Penn State went scoreless. By the time Bill Edwards hit a freethrow three minutes into the half, the two point deficit had blown up into 15 points and Purdue had the game pretty well in hand.
Bill Edwards played his best game as a Nittany Lion and recorded his first career double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds. He showed the most hustle on the team in attacking the boards, and he showed some ability in creating shots for himself. He also played a crucial role in getting the transition game going. Several times he grabbed a rebound, brought it up the court, and created a scoring opportunity for either himself or a teammate. Sometimes he scored, and sometimes he threw the ball into a teammate's shins. He's got some work to do yet, but today he looked like Penn State's second best player.
I was pleased with the poise the team showed today. Normally there is a point in every game where the other team gets on a run and Penn State panics. They compound the problem by making mistakes and giving the opponent more fuel for the fire. But I didn't really see that today, or at least to the degree we have in the past. When Purdue opened with a 19-4 run in the second half it was mostly because Purdue was hitting their shots and Penn State wasn't. There were some defensive breakdowns to give the Boilermakers some easy looks, but those are more forgivable than throwing the ball out of bounds or travelling. Ed was patient in letting them work through it. Eventually he called a timeout to stop the bleeding, but for the most part I thought they did a good job regrouping after that. I guess they are becoming numb from the shock of the other team getting momentum. Is that a good thing?
Once again Penn State outrebounded their opponent (31-30). And they shot 87% from the freethrow line.
The team only had 10 turnovers. Not great, but it's an improvement. Tim Frazier managed to log 22 minutes without a turnover. More of that, please.
Penn State shot horribly in this game. Only 31% from the field and 17% from the arc.
Andrew Jones is still not showing up. Four points and six rebounds isn't getting it done. The worst part is I don't see any killer instinct there. Too many times I see him heading back on defense when a shot is in the air instead of looking for an offensive rebound. When your teammates are shooting up bricks, I wouldn't assume it's going in.
Chris Babb went scoreless in 26 minutes. He went 0-6 from the field and 0-4 from three point range.
The defense is just terrible. Purdue was driving to the basket at will, and when Penn State did manage to help out the Boilermakers kicked it out to a wide open shooter who usually made them pay. They shot 62% on the day and 50% from the arc.
On the flip side, the offense looks equally as bad. It was just more of the same. Half-hearted screens. Standing around. Fighting just to make simple passes let alone open up a shot. Purdue had them totally flustered in the early going. When Battle came off a screen the second defender stepped out and they pressured Battle all the way to midcourt. When Battle gave it up to someone, they just dribbled around looking for a way to get it back to Battle. It's pathetic to watch, really. Ed had to adjust by letting Babb and Edwards bring the ball up the court. After that the Purdue defense loosened up a bit and Penn State was able to settle in. It gave Battle a chance to get open without the ball and it was a large reason why Penn State had their little run just before the half. I think the sooner Tim Frazier can handle the majority of the point duty and allow Battle to move over to the two guard, the better off they will be.
Next up the Nittany Lions is a Wednesday night game in Columbus against the Ohio State Buckeyes, a team Penn State hasn't beaten since the Grover Cleveland administration. They are 16-6 and ranked #24 in the nation. So it's looking like Penn State's next opportunity for a win may come next Saturday against the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the Bryce Jordan Center.