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Upon Further Review: The Bucknell Edition

Penn State got a huge victory to rebound from Tim Frazier's injury. Here's a deeper look at the numbers of PSU's upset of the Bison.

Chambers' vision of Penn State Basketball came to fruition in the 2nd half on Black Friday.
Chambers' vision of Penn State Basketball came to fruition in the 2nd half on Black Friday.
Tom Pennington

It was a tale of two halves at the Bryce Jordan Center on Black Friday. It took twenty minutes for the Nittany Lions to find their groove on offense, but they put together their best half of basketball so far this season in the 2nd period to surprise Bucknell, 60-57.

The Numbers

Team Poss PPP eFG% Off Reb% TO% FT Rate
Penn State 62 0.99 44.7% 33.3% 13.0% 35.1
Bucknell 62 0.91 45.1% 11.1% 21.1% 61.0

No stat signifies the tale of two halves more than these shooting percentages. In the first half, PSU remarkably outdid their own ineptitude so far this year at shooting the basketball by missing 26 shots. They put up 31 of them - 18 two's and 13 three's - but were only able to sink five. They even struggled from the foul line to put up this total line - 16.7% on 2's, 15.3% on 3's, 40% on FT's - for an effective field goal percentage of exactly 19.7% and an inefficient 0.52 PPP. Usually this is a sign of a team not taking good shots, but that wasn't really the case with PSU. They simply couldn't find the bottom of the net, as we've seen hundreds of times already through 5 games.

Penn State found their confidence in the second half, however, to put up their best offensive output of the young season. They scored at a rate of 1.48 PPP while scorching the nets at 75% eFG%. Ross Travis, Brandon Taylor, Sasa Borovnjak, and Jermaine Marshall combined to convert 13 of 14 field goal attempts in the half. PSU only took 6 three-pointers, but sank five of them.

PSU held the edge of the glass consistently throughout the game. Bucknell only had 3 offensive rebounds for the game as defensive rebounding continues to be Penn State's best trait as a team. The Lions' offensive rebounding dropped off in the second half, but it didn't matter since there were considerably less opportunities available thanks to their great shooting.

Considering this was DJ Newbill's first game as the full-time point guard, Chambers has to be happy with how PSU took care of the basketball. Newbill had a rough first half with more turnovers (3) than turnovers and points (2 a piece). He settled in nicely though and helped orchestrate PSU's offense with 5 assists and just 1 turnover in the second period. This had been a problem area for the Nittany Lions, so this kind of performance is encouraging, but Bucknell is not a high-pressure team that creates turnovers.

Free Throw Rate
This is usually a crucial area for Penn State because their offense depends heavily on freebies due to their shooting woes. Over 25% of their points this season have been from free throws. PSU got to the foul line at an average rate over the course of the game, but they shot just 45% on their 20 attempts, so it's not like it was beneficial for the offense.

Turning Point
The Bison were struggling with PSU's defense pressure for most of the game, but they led for the first thirty minutes because Penn State couldn't score. The unofficial turning point easily is whatever Chambers said to his team at half-time, because they came out on fire. But with only one lead change occurring the entire game, Jermaine Marshall's banked in three as the shotclock was winding down to give PSU their first lead takes the cake.

Random Thoughts

-Penn State would've lost without Brandon Taylor. The freshman was confident and the only scoring threat for this team for at least 25 minutes. He scored 16 big points on four three-pointers and had half of the team's points at halftime. Unlikely he'll be left open on the pick-and-pop from here-on-out, so we'll see how the freshman adjusts.

-The complete turnaround of the offense overshadowed what was a stifling effort from Penn State on the defensive end. After the dreadful defensive performance Akron, this was a great bounce-back effort. They limited Bucknell's big man Mike Muscala to just 10 points, forced turnovers, and contested shots all game long. It was the first time the Bison had been held under 1.0 PPP this season.

-DJ Newbill is going to be alright. He's definitely going to need some time to get used to the physical toll non-stop ball handling has on his energy, especially against tougher defenses. It seemed he lost his legs on a couple of his drives in the 2nd half, but 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists in the first game without Frazier is a good sign.

-Sasa Borovnjak and Pat Ackerman made some great, unsung contributions to this win. Sasa has shown he can score against less physical big man, and he added a few tough jump hooks over Muscala for PSU's offense. Ackerman scored his first points as a Nittany Lion and made a nice tip off a Marshall missed free throw that led to the go-ahead three-pointer.

Season Numbers

Team Poss/Gm PPP eFG% Off Reb% TO% FT Rate
Penn State 64.1 0.93 40.4% 36.9% 21.0% 39.7
Opponents 64.1 1.01 52.6% 25.7% 23.0% 48.5

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