Call it what it was.
Penn State's 83-68 defeat at the hands of No. 10 Purdue on Wednesday night at the Bryce Jordan Center was a simple case of a top-10 team doing what top-10 teams do to inferior competition. Nevertheless, it was an unsettling night for the Nittany Lions in a lot of departments, most of them frankly warts the team has shown all year.
Ryne Smith did much of the damage for Purdue, hitting 5-5 from three point territory and leading all scorers with 20 points. The guard entered averaging only 5.7 points per game, but Penn State, a team that has been bleeding 3-pointers in bucket loads of late, apparently offered just the type of lax perimeter defense needed for him to go off. JaJuan Johnson added 15 points, but also 15 key rebounds that helped Purdue dominate Penn State on the boards by a margin of 46-31.
It wasn't all doom and gloom for Penn State, however, as red shirt freshman Jermaine Marshall came off the bench to contribute 18 points for the Lions. He and Talor Battle, who also finished with 18 points, led Penn State in scoring. Jeff Brooks finished with a double-double, adding 15 points and 10 rebounds.
All that offense wasn't enough, though, as the Penn State defense allowed Purdue to cut it to shreds all evening. Next up for the Lions will be Michigan State on Saturday afternoon. If Penn State doesn't make some changes on defense, it could be another long game for Ed DeChellis's squad.
- Where has Jermaine Marshall been all season? I've been slow to jump on the bandwagon begging the staff to give him more minutes, mostly because I was willing to trust their judgment having never seen much of him myself, but man, the kid can do things not many other people on the roster can. This wasn't some garbage non-conference team he went off on Wednesday evening, it was a top-10 opponent with a shot-blocking monster inside and Marshall still looked excellent. The freshman was aggressive in attacking the basket and even showed some touch on his jumper. He looked great, and certainly more effective than Tim Frazier who has gotten all of the starts at guard opposite Battle so far. Here's a stat to keep in perspective just how good Marshall was in comparison to the rest of the roster. His 18 points Wednesday night were one less than the 19 points players not named Battle, Brooks and David Jackson had in the last two games combined. Put the kid on the floor.
Jeff Brooks continues to do great things for this Penn State team. His double-double tonight against a squad as good as Purdue should put to rest any doubts that he's here to stay in his senior season. Sure, he's had off days so far, mostly as a result of foul trouble, but when he's in the game, he's a play maker for the Lions. Give the staff credit for bringing him along as it has.
- Penn State let pretty much everyone else score for Purdue on Wednesday night, but it did hold E'Twaun Moore to four points, allowing Talor Battle to move into first place on the active Big Ten scoring list.
- Lions got a lot more supplementary scoring Wednesday night, mostly from Marshall, but also from Andrew Jones, who's six points early on helped keep Penn State close.
Billy Oliver and Tim Frazier played 32 minutes between them and combined to score two points, grab one rebound and commit six personal fouls. Frazier did have eight assists, but when you're getting those kinds of minutes, you have to do better than that for your team to have a chance against one as good as Purdue.
- 13-20 performance from the foul line wasn't helping anyone.
- The domination suffered on the boards was not surprising, but still a little disappointing. The Lions seemed to be able to hold their own against the Boilermakers in that department last spring, but got killed on Wednesday. Purdue pounded Penn State especially hard on the offensive boards, 13-6, and managed a lot of second chance points that would prove fatal for the Lions.
- Penn State finished 5-18 from 3-point territory.
- We talked before the game about how no Purdue players beyond Moore and Johnson averaged more than six points per game, but Penn State allowed several to go off on them. In addition to Smith's 20 points, Lewis Jackson finished with 17, Kelsey Barlow finished with 10 and Terone Johnson had nine. Hard to overcome something like that if you're Penn State, even if you did have a decent night on offense.
- The perimeter defense continues to be an unmitigated disaster. Ryne Smith going 5-5 from deep is one thing, but the way he did it was quite another. Seemingly every time he caught the ball on the perimeter, it was a result of Penn State's help defense collapsing inside, allowing the Purdue slasher to kick to Smith who made Penn State pay. Penn State defenders are far too often collapsing on the middle and leaving open shots from deep for teams to feast on and it's going to get them killed in the long term, just as it has in losing four of their last five games. The Lions need to start trusting each other to guard one-on-one on defense or performance's on the perimeter from prissy jump shooters like Smith are going to continue to happen.