Penn State's defense had been much better in 2010-2011, but now it seems the Nittany Lions might have taken a step back.
Mississippi's Trevor Gaskins hit six three-pointers and scored 24 points while senior guard Chris Warren added 20 as the Rebels defeated the Lions 84-71 Friday Night in Oxford. It was Penn State's first loss of the season and drops its record to 4-1.
Penn State fell behind early and trailed throughout. Though they had at least three chances to tie or take the lead in the second half, the Lions never managed to pull even, and struggled to overcome Mississippi's hot shooting throughout the evening.
The Lions now prepare to host Furman on Sunday at the Bryce Jordan Center before the big game against Maryland on Tuesday night in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, where the Lions have won their last three games.
- A big game from Talor Battle tonight, (26 points, four assists and three rebounds) should quiet whispers that he's struggling with a hip injury in the early going. The senior point guard has acted as a facilitator in Penn State wins, but when the chips were down tonight, Bubby was scoring points and making things happen while some teammates struggled to get going. It didn't pay off for Penn State, but those concerned about Battle's health can probably breath a sigh of relief for now.
- David Jackson and Jeff Brooks had strong nights again. Jackson finished with 17 points and four boards while Brooks went for 15 points and nine rebounds. Not a whole lot more you can ask of from that pair.
- For the game, Penn State shot a respectable 44% from the field and 47% from deep. The shots seemed to be flowing from start to finish, unfortunately, some bad defense and kept the Lions from capitalizing on the good shooting.
- Taran Buie had a second straight solid performance with six points, three assists and two rebounds in 18 minutes. Probably should have seen a little more playing time considering the way others were playing.
- Andrew Jones and Tim Frazier put too much pressure on the other three starters, Battle, Brooks and Jackson. The pair had a combined three points, eight fouls, three turnovers, three rebounds and seven assists. Way more good than bad. Neither player needs to score a lot for Penn State to be successful, but each needs to find ways to contribute in other ways, then. Neither did that on Friday.
- Billy Oliver is turning into this team's mad scientist. One moment, he's knocking down treys from the four spot like he's Kevin Pittsnogle the next he's throwing the ball away off his leg. Friday night, he had four points and two boards in 14 minutes, but also four turnovers and three fouls. If he's going to be an effective bench forward, he needs to cut down on the careless mistakes.
- Overall, there are really a lot of positives to take away from Penn State's stat sheet. The Lions shot the ball well, limited the turnovers and kept things close on the glass. The glaring hole in all of that though is Ole Miss's 13-29 performance beyond the arc. You aren't going to win very often when you're giving up bombs like that.
- In the same vein, the Lions seemed incapable of slowing down Ole Miss's hot guards. When Gaskins, a 10% shooter from deep entering the game, wasn't nailing them from the arc, Warren was. If Penn State had managed to put the clamps on one, this thing might have stayed tight until the end. Eventually, though, the hot shooting eventually caught up with Penn State, and you get a final like 84-71.
- The game wasn't on TV because it was in an SEC market. Boooooo. I wish I had more analysis on how Penn State actually looked, but all I did was listen to Steve Jones, who was calling the game Vin Scully style Friday night.