And so is life on the road in the Big Ten. Penn State got smoked in their Big Ten opener at Crisler Arena in a game that was never really in doubt after the first 10 minutes. No one on PSU's roster could match up with Tim Hardaway Jr, who torched PSU for 26 points despite lacking a jump shot. Hardaway was just 1-7 from three, but he was unstoppable on the interior as he went 10-11 on his 2-point attempts.
Trey Burke had a remarkable debut for the Wolverines as well, drawing the defense and making plays. He finished with 13 points (7-7 from the foul line), 5 rebounds, 7 assists, and no turnovers. Evan Smotrycz got a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Michigan posted a 54.7% eFG%, while making 60% of their 2's.
There are going to be more games like this for Penn State, unfortunately, but it's important to not lose sight of the positives from these dismal contests. I was excited to see Jon Graham for the first time since last month. I love the energy Graham always seems to bring to the floor, and it showed up in the stat-sheet. Graham grabbed 6 rebounds in 14 minutes in his first action since the St. Joseph's game. Trey Lewis also made some really nice plays on offense. All three of his FGs came on strong, aggressive moves to the rim.
Tim Frazier paced PSU with 20 points, 4 assists, and 4 rebounds, but it seemed he lost trust in his teammates at times. While PSU went through their usual scoring droughts, Frazier seemed pressured into carrying the load himself. He again had five turnovers forcing the issue. Billy Oliver had more fouls than points or rebounds in 26 minutes. Billy has to provide more than that if this team is going to be competitive. It didn't help that Jermaine Marshall was in foul trouble all game long, picking up three offensive fouls on charges. This will seemingly be an issue with Jermaine until he grows out of it. He too often puts his head down and attacks the rim relentlessly. This has gotten him in trouble more times than not. Despite never getting into the flow of the game, he did finish strong with 9 points on 4 shots. Ross Travis played 18 minutes but wasn't productive. He's got a long ways to go on the defensive end.
None of these numbers were unexpected, although I'm disappointed PSU couldn't force a few more turnovers on defense. They tried different looks, but the zone and 1-2-2 were pretty ineffective. Michigan also did a solid job keeping PSU off the offensive glass. I felt for the most part, PSU didn't do much in that department until the game was very much decided.
I was actually encouraged by PSU's shot selection. They only shot 15 three-pointers, their lowest total in a game on the season. While they still didn't shoot well, it was nice to see Frazier, Lewis, and even Matt Glover taking it up strong. There wasn't much back-to-the-basket action, but they burned UM on some pick and rolls as Frazier drew the double team.
I was fairly annoyed by Mike Kitts' officiating crew, but it didn't matter. Like I said, such is life on the road in the Big Ten.
Next up for Penn State is another road game on Sunday, but against a team they've had plenty of success against in recent years. Northwestern surely is glad to see Talor Battle gone, as PSU has won 6 in a row against the Wildcats over Battle's 4-year career.