There have been so many ugly Ed DeChellis-Bruce Weber, Penn State-Illinois battles over the last 7 years. However, despite the very normal point total in tonight's contest (a 64-59 Illinois win), this one was right up there with some of those crap-fests.
52 total fouls. 27 turnovers. 61.5% free throw shooting. With so many whistles, the game lasted 2 hours and 22 minutes in real time.
For Penn State, it will go down as yet another loss during this now 14-game losing streak, and they really don't have anyone to blame but themselves. Usually it's been missed shots that have kept this team from winning, but tonight it was their other achilles heel, the atrocious fouling habits. I mean, at some point they have to stop leaving their feet on every ball fake ever, right?
The Illini attempted 36 free throws, although 10 of those came in the last minute. Still, the Illinois offense that shot well below average for most of the game (29% from 3) was able to score 1.02 PPP thanks to a healthy 83.7 free throw rate.
The Nittany Lion offense actually was fairly productive, even though they only finished with 59 points. They shot their 2nd highest eFG% mark in conference play (52.7%) and were able to grab 36.7% of their offensive rebounding opportunities. Where they went wrong was in the turnover department, coughing the ball up on 25.5% of their possessions.
Newbill especially had one of his roughest performances of the year with 7 turnovers. He didn't score a point in the 2nd half until there was :35 seconds left and only made 2 of his 5 foul shots. All of their 16 turnovers seem to come at the worst time and stunted any momentum PSU was ever able to muster in the game.
The good news is Sasa Borovnjak continued to plug away on offense, scoring a career-high 17 points for the second straight game on 7-10 shooting. Jermaine Marshall also had one of his more efficient games, leading the way with 20 points on 11 shots. It was odd to not see him get more touches near the middle of the 2nd half after he erased a 9-point halftime deficit basically on his own. It seemed like the streaky scorer was about to find his groove scoring 8 quick points, but didn't attempt another shot for another 8 minutes.
Defensively, the Lions continue to bring strong energy and mix in their zone and man looks. But until some of these guys stop leaving their feet at the slightest flinch and keep from hacking, they will struggle to limit any offense in this league.
Chambers' team has the weekend off and will be back in the Jordan Center on Wednesday with a home date against a ranked Michigan team that will have their attention versus Lions after a tough battle last weekend.