While Penn State's 82-61 loss at the hands of Ohio State Tuesday night was ugly at points, it followed a similar script from a defeat earlier this season. Most of the 15,403 at the Bryce Jordan Center probably don't remember it though. It's too bad, too, because maybe then they'd know how to deal with losing to a hot shooter.
Before the bright lights of Senior Night and the buzz that follows the No. 1 ranked team in the land, Penn State dropped an 84-71 non-televised decision at Ole Miss in late November. The Rebels, a far less talented team than the Buckeyes, racked up thirteen 3-pointers on the Nittany Lions, including six from guard Trevor Gaskins in what as otherwise a pretty respectable performance for Penn State.
Sometimes, the other guy just has a day.
It was true for Penn State then when no one bothered to care about the team three months ago, and it's true for it now in the heat of a desperate final push for the NCAA Tournament.The players just have to hope those defeats won't be the ones that keep them out of the NCAA Tournament.
Undoubtedly, there will be places on the Internet today where the Lions are ripped up and down for their performance, and in some cases, they certainly deserve criticism for allowing the Buckeye's Jon Diebler to shoot 10-12 from 3-point territory and for yielding 55.4% to Ohio State as a team.
Take it with a grain of salt, though.
This isn't football. You can't hit a guy in the mouth to stop him. You can't even give him a shove. You've just got to get a hand in his face and hope he isn't lethal enough to kill you from the arc. Unfortunately for Penn State, on Tuesday night, Diebler was, and it was blowout city from start to finish.
- Many whined before the game over Steve Kirkpatrick earning the start on Senior Night in place of Tim Frazier. Those critics should chew on Buckeye starter Dallas Lauderdale's two point, three rebound line before criticizing the decision to give Kirkpatrick, who finished with four points and a rebound in fewer minutes, a moment in the sun on his night. Anyone who's spent any time with this program knows how respected Kirkpatrick is within it, and after giving four years in the film room and mentoring young players, Kirkpatrick deserved every second of playing time he received from the coaching staff. The program will miss the production of the other four seniors. It'll miss a fantastic teammate in Steve Kirkpatrick. You're not going to hear that any where else in the media today, but it needs to be said.
- The first half shooting was definitely terrible, coming in under 30%, but Penn State rebounded very nicely to finish at 49% for the evening. Sure, a lot of that was do to some lax defense by the Buckeyes after they'd built an insurmountable lead, but the game wasn't the out-and-out disaster offensively many will make it out to be. David Jackson, Andrew Jones and Talor Battle all finished in double figures.
- Tim Frazier stopped a four-on-one at one point early in the second half, first tipping a pass backward, then taking a charge. On the other end, he tacked on a layup. Smart, heady and aware play. Frazier's decision making still has a long way to go offensively, and that was on display with his six turnovers, but if he keeps growing at this pace, he should be a pretty good player as an upperclassman.
- For a weeknight, the crowd of over 15,000 was pretty darned impressive. It was also loud until it was abundantly clear Penn State was completely out of it. This program has a lot of casual fans, and in many ways, that's as big a part of the problem as anything, but for one night, it was good to see everyone come together to rally behind a group of seniors that has given a lot to the program.
- After putting together five straight games of single digit turnovers, Penn State has now broken double figures twice in a row with their 13 against Ohio State Tuesday night. That can't happen on the Lions' home floor in such an important game.
- Dallas Lauderdale. I mean really, is there a less efficient player in this conference? Maybe Billy Oliver, but at least when Oliver is bad, he's visibly bad. You could lose that 7-footer in a middle school chorus concert the way he plays at times.
- Penn State was pounded 31-22 on the glass, and though freshman Jared Sullinger was less than impressive scoring the basketball in this one, he made the Lions pay by grabbing 10 boards including four on the offensive end. Add Penn State's 13 turnovers to the 10 extra possession the Buckeyes got off offensive boards and you've lost 23 possessions (not counting Ohio State's 12 turnovers). You're not going to win many games with negatives that high in those departments.
- Beyond Diebler, Ohio State was 3-12 from 3-point territory. The Buckeyes have a lot of shooters and to hold the rest of them to that number deserves a "yo." Unfortunately for the Lions, Diebler got free enough that even if he missed his contested triples, he still would have had a heck of a day. If Penn State is going to make a run in the season finale and at the Big Ten Tournament, they're going to have to guard everyone well outside to have a chance.
Jeff Brooks just didn't have it. He had six points and five fouls on the evening and never really got involved. Penn State needs him more than just about anyone but Talor Battle to have success and he came up small. We have no idea what he's playing with, so it's not really fair to criticize, but his production was missed big time.
- Penn State doesn't need a miracle to make the NCAA Tournament, but the grim reality of the matter now is that the Lions need to win their next three games, the season finale at Minnesota and the first two games of the Big Ten Tournament, to be breathing on Selection Sunday. The bubble bar has been lowered and lowered all season, but in all likelihood, it's not going lower than 18 overall wins. The margin for error is officially gone.
- It seemed like every Ohio State player got louder boos from the fans than any Penn State players got cheers during introductions.
- Losing on Senior Night sucks for the players and the fans. No one wanted this senior crew to go out the way it did. The good news is they'll likely have a chance for a more proper send-off in the NIT. Of course, none of them are going to want to hear that, but it's at least comforting for the fans that will be there to support them NCAA Tournament or no NCAA Tournament to know they'll get one last shot to see these guys go out winners.
Ed DeChellis talks about the loss.
Penn State's David Jackson and Talor Battle speak of their disappointment in falling on their senior night.
Ohio State's Jon Diebler talks about his record night and Thad Matta likes the word "standpoint.