Penn State Struggles On Defense In Loss To Michigan

On a day with a lot of positives, one big negative doomed Penn State against Michigan as the Nittany Lions allowed the Wolverines to shoot 57% from the field in a 76-69 loss on Sunday in Ann Arbor. 

Talor Battle led all scorers with 30 points and Jeff Brooks and David Jackson turned in productive days with 16 and 15 points respectively, but it wasn't enough for the Lions to undo Michigan's hot shooting.

Penn State led by as many as nine points in the first half behind a quick start by Jackson, however, after a cold shooting spell to open the second half let Michigan back into the game, Penn State struggled to keep Michigan off the board down the stretch and eventually lost control of the game in the last three minutes.

The loss drops Penn State to 1-1 in Big Ten play and 8-5 overall with five games against ranked opponents coming up on the schedule. This was Penn State's best chance to pick up another Big Ten win and gain some momentum for that stretch, and the Lions blew it.

 

The Good

  • The senior trio of Battle, Brooks and Jackson was great again and has really been clicking in the first two games of the conference season. Unfortunately, the three players continue to carry an inordinate amount of the scoring load, notching 62 of the team's 69 points on the night. 
  • Billy Oliver actually had a nice game in place of Andrew Jones, who sat much of the game with foul trouble. He had five points, three boards and an assist and probably should have drawn a few charges, too. Unfortunately, the refs didn't read the "charge" part of the rule book and he got stuck with a couple of costly blocks, but he played well nevertheless.
  • Penn State only had six turnovers and won the rebounding battle as well.

The Bad

  • Michigan was perfect from the free throw line while Penn State was 12-18 for 66%. Hit a few more and it's a one possession game late.
  • Scoring distribution finally caught up with Penn State as the players beyond the big three only scored seven combined points on the evening. Take Oliver's five away and that total is two between three guys that got at least 10 minutes. While the role guys did get up more shots than they did against Indiana, they're just no carrying their weight in the scoring department.
  • Andrew Jones had no points and attempted no shots as a result of foul trouble early in the game. While the other seniors have played well, Jones is as inconsistent as ever this season and on a night when Penn State could have used an extra bucket or two, it would have been nice to see Jones step up.

The Ugly

  • Penn State's man defense looked atrocious against Michigan. Even the simplest pick plays got the Lions out of position and led to easy Michigan buckets on wide open shots from both inside and outside the perimeter. When Michigan players penetrated, too many guys seemed to be collapsing on the ball, leaving the arc wide open. It's no wonder Michigan almost shot 60%.
  • The refs seemed to miss a few obvious charging fouls taken by Billy Oliver late in the game.  I'm never one to complain too much about the refs, but this was pretty rough.
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