These games in front of scarce crowds over holiday breaks have had a tendency to bite PSU in the butt before. And for the first 15 minutes of this game, it seemed PSU was going through motions yet again. Who could blame them in front of another cavernous BJC crowd of no more than
3,912-announced 1,000 spectators?
But it's definitely a great sign to win with such ease (the Lions once held a 39-point lead in the second half) against anyone when you're not playing your best. Penn State improved to 5-1 on the year and now head into an important stretch of their non-conference schedule.
Tim Frazier led the way with 19 points (on 11 shots), 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. He was a perfect 7-for-7 from inside the arc and dished his 500th career assist in the 2nd half on one of his token, unselfish plays that we've known him for. DJ Newbill was one rebound shy of another double-double, this time finishing with 15 points (on 10 shots), 9 rebounds and 4 assists. Ross Travis chipped in a quiet 11 points and 4 rebounds, including a three-pointer as he slowly improves his 16% career average from beyond the arc.
However, it was the Lions' defense that took the game away from Monmouth, who was playing their third high major opponent in a row. Penn State threw plenty of 2-3 zone looks at the Hawks in the first half that was effective towards the end of the first period, causing the Hawks to go without a field goal for over 5 minutes. In the second half, it was the Lions' fullcourt pressure that flustered Monmouth's guards and caused 16 turnovers in the game.
Four Factors Analysis
Penn State continues to rely on the strength of their shooting. This was yet another impressive performance on offense, which has become a theme so far six games into the season. This was their second game in a row making a significant impact on the offensive glass, but the quality of opponent needs to be considered here.
Defensively, this was PSU's best mark yet. They shut down Monmouth's attack, particularly in the second half due to their fullcourt pressure. Penn State had the clear advantage in athleticism, which eventually took the life out of the Hawks, according to King Rice. This was the first time PSU forced their opponents to turn the ball over on more than 20% of their possessions.
Player of the Game
Tim Frazier did flirt with a triple-double, and he finally got his jumper working a bit for the first time this season. However, this honor will go to Allen Roberts who had 17 points off the bench on just 6 shots. You just can't produce points more efficiently than that. Roberts hit 3 triples and also grabbed 3 rebounds and dished an assist. The savvy vet continues to prove himself a valuable late-addition to this team.
- Jack, Taylor - No, not the Grinnell superstar, but Donovon Jack and Brandon Taylor. They continue to commit needless fouls at an alarming rate that keep them on the bench for extended run. It's hard to get experience and in a rhythm if you're constantly being sent back to the bench.
- Wiz, the Quiznos Wizard! - Penn State got just what they needed out of Alan Wisniewski, who came off the bench due to Jack, Taylor foul troubles. The senior captain provided the hustle and energy that you would expect from a captain that seemed to catapult PSU's monumental 39-11 run to start the second half.
- Bench Production - There was a lot more garbage time in this game (PSU extended the lead to 30 with over 8 minutes left), but Penn State's bench came up with 32 points tonight. Outside of Roberts' 17, Graham Woodward chipped in 8, Wisniewski had 3 and Julian Moore and Kevin Montminy scored 2 points.
- Payton Banks - With another presumable DNP-CD tonight, it appears the freshmen from California could be redshirting this season. There's not much room in the rotation for him anyway, so it's probably for the best. He was still seen at the scorer's table during the Wagner game, so who knows if the decision is definite yet.
PSU is headed into the meat of their non-conference schedule as their next three games will be against high major opponents. They face St. John's on Friday at the Barclays Center, and then will play either Georgia Tech or Mississippi on Saturday. They follow that quick turnaround up with the challenge game on the road at Pitt. Unfortunately for this team, there's not going to be much time for Thanksgiving festivities as a lot will be told about this team in the next three games.
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