Last night's game was actually a rerun of most Big Ten road contests past: Penn State dug themselves a deep hole early on thanks to sluggish defense and shots not going down but fought their way back after the opponent got a little too complacent. Just as the deficit was on the verge of completely being erased though, the opponent suddenly, as if on cue, goes on another huge run to push the lead back into double digits. Repeat this cycle about a few more times, sprinkle in some scorching-hot sportscaster analysis about how 'this Penn State team never quits' or even worse, calling them the P-word (pesky), and you've got yet another disappointing (but not surprising) double-digit road loss, this time at the hands of Michigan, 80-67.
Tim Frazier and DJ Newbill both racked up 17 points apiece, and Donovon Jack quietly had a good game himself, racking up 12 points and six rebounds. For Michigan, it was the Nik Stauskas/Derrick Walton Jr./Glenn Robinson III variety hour, as they put up 21, 16, and 15 points, respectively. Forward Jon Horoford even added 11 points off the bench. Every time PSU threatened, it seemed that one of those aforementioned Michigan players would come up with a clutch three-pointer (wide open, as usual) or get themselves a relatively easy layup or dunk on a drive to the basket...Whatever.
Four Factors Analysis
Pretty much the same story as with most games this season: PSU was efficient enough on offense (generally speaking, anything above 1.0 in PPP is considered efficient), but terribly inefficient on the defensive end. The 62.5% eFG% for Michigan clearly illustrates the lack of defensive presence, as the Wolverines got their share of easy layups and dunks when they weren't busy nailing 9 of their 24 3-point attempts. The discrepancy in FT Rate is due to the fact that Michigan got several more trips to the line (15 for 19) than PSU (10 for 13).
Player of the Game
Even though Tim Frazier and DJ Newbill both led PSU in scoring, I'll give the nod to Frazier, as he had the best all-around performance with six assists and a pair of steals to go with his points.
- Brandon Taylor's Diminishing Minutes - You really have to feel bad for Brandon at this point, but his ice-cold shooting and liability as a defender have caused a significant drop in his minutes.
- Graham Woodward Is Getting Some Serious Run - And he certainly didn't disappoint. Woodward nailed a pair of threes and also grabbed three rebounds in 21 minutes of action, the most he's seen by far this season. It will be interesting to see what his minutes are once Allen Roberts is available again.
- And...I'm All Out of Useful Observations
Penn State has a Saturday night showdown looming at Purdue (7 PM ET, ESPNU), in which they will once again try to do the improbable and end a hopeless losing skid on the road.