Ole Miss Nips Penn State 72-70

During the BTN's pregame show, Tim Doyle boldly proclaimed that the first team to 50 points would win this game, given how both teams have had their issues shooting the basketball this season. As usual, Tim Doyle ended up looking like a complete fool, as both teams shot the ball with relative accuracy, and both eclipsed the 30-point mark at halftime with Ole Miss leading 35-34 at the break.

The second half saw more of the same back-and-forth scoring, although PSU managed to expand its lead to eight at one point before going ice cold for a three minute stretch where they could expanded the lead to double figures and instead, allowed Ole Miss to the tie the game up with 10 minutes to play. PSU then flirted with small leads ranging between one and five points for the next nine minutes before Ole Miss took the lead on a fast break layup where they clearly got away with a travel that the referees failed to notice.

With his team trailing by a point, senior Cam Woodyard stepped up with a big-time drive to the basket to put PSU back up one with 46 seconds remaining before Ole Miss' Jarvis Summers came right back with an old-fashioned three point play of his own. Woodyard had a great wide open look from the left corner for a game-winning three but it clanked off the rim, and Ole Miss hung on for the win amidst a smattering of boos from the sparse crowd, who were still furious at the refs for the travelling no-call.

Jarvis Summers led all scorers with 27 points, including 4 of 5 from 3-point range. Three other Ole Miss players also hit double figures scoring, including their interior presence, Murphy Holloway, who racked up a double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds, 5 steals). Tim Frazier once again led the way for PSU with 17 points, 9 assists, and 6 rebounds but one has to be encouraged by Sasa Borovnjak's breakout performance in which the Serbian big man recorded 15 points and 4 rebounds. Hopefully, this was not an aberration. Pat Chambers sure doesn't think so:

Q: Can you talk about what you got out of Sasa?
A: I always said this to Sasa. When you are out for a year, it's going to take a little while to get used to the game speed. I felt like tonight for Sasa it slowed down. He really took his time and played at his pace. He's a thick guy, so play at your pace. I don't envision him getting 15 every night. But, I definitely see 10 and 7 and 12 and 6, somewhere around there. Anywhere from 8-12 points I think he is very capable of doing on any given night and I think that's who Sasa is going to be for us.

Even more baffling was the relative lack of minutes for Trey Lewis, who went scoreless in only five minutes of action. After leading all PSU scorers with 17 points in the season opener against Hartford, Lewis' contributions appear to be diminishing. I haven't found any reports of Lewis suffering an injury/illness, but it's hard to see how a healthy Lewis isn't playing more than five minutes.

Undoubtedly, this was a very difficult loss to swallow, considering PSU was ahead for almost the entire second half until the final minute when Ole Miss swooped in with a couple of critical plays to come away victorious. However, this young team could be all the better for it when they're into the thick of Big Ten play. But hey, don't take my word for it: Here's Pat Chambers' reply when asked about whether his team would be able to rebound from this loss:

No doubt about it. We're heading the right direction. That end of game speech wasn't an omen. We're headed in the right direction. We have to keep competing. We have to keep playing hard. This is the type of team that we can be. I just talked to them and I think we surprised them on how hard we played and how physical we were. And that's the way it has to be every single day, practice, games. We can't take steps back and those guys know it. They know it. I'm not going to allow it.

We'll find out soon enough how true those fighting words will ring when Lafayette visits the BJC on Wednesday night.
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