Fortunately, Penn State's gauntlet stretch in the middle of the Big Ten season is almost coming to a close and some winnable home games are on the horizon. However, Penn State is licking their wounds after another demoralizing road loss. The Lions were never competitive in Iowa City over this past weekend, getting down quickly 25-7 in the first half. They didn't quit and scored 45 points in the 2nd half, but Chambers accepts no moral victories. The opening letdown was "mind-blowing" to Chambers, who said he was pleased with the practices and walk-throughs before the game.
I wasn't building on the second twenty minutes. It was more like, I don't know how this can happen, we need to change our mindset, we need to change our ways, our approach. We need to get better. Because we still can get a lot better as a team, collectively.
As you can see by the numbers below, that first half was one of the worst ever offensively. The fact that they were that close to having a higher TO% than eFG% is incredibly terrible.
|1st Half||Poss||Score||PPP||eFG%||OReb%||TO%||FT Rate|
It's a small miracle that PSU hit eight threes in the second half to up the total efficiency to a respectably bad 0.91 PPP. In case you were wondering about this, Tim Frazier scored 8 points (42% of PSU's total) and shot 44.4% in the first half. The rest of the team made just 5 shots on 23.8% eFG%. However, Frazier wasn't spectacular himself with 4 turnovers to his 0 assists in the half (two were on carrying calls). For the game, Frazier totaled 23 points (on 55% eFG%), 5 assists (since his teammates made 14 FG in the 2nd half), and 5 rebounds.
The road continues to bring out the worst in Penn State, as they are now the only team in the Big Ten without a conference road win. It's unlikely their next game will yield their first.
|Who:||#11 Michigan State Spartans (18-5, 7-3)|
|When:||Tomorrow, 6:30 PM|
|TV:||Big Ten Network|
|Radio:||Affiliates, Sirius - CH 92, XM - CH 191|
There is nothing to believe that Penn State will be even competitive tomorrow night. Their performance on the road speaks for itself, and Michigan State has clearly been the 2nd best team in the conference. However, it could be argued PSU is getting MSU in the classic trap game, as the Spartans just came off an emotional victory over their rivals Michigan and finally will get their showdown with Ohio State this weekend. However, Izzo says this is not the case, and it's probable it wouldn't even matter if the players treated it as such or not. When you can't shoot the basketball, you are not going to win games.
Draymond Green is to Michigan State what Tim Frazier is to Penn State. Unfortunately, Green also has much more talented players surrounding him. He is coming off a monster performance against Michigan (14 points, 16 rebounds, 4 assists) where he backed up his guarantee for a win despite spraining his knee just a few days before against Illinois. For the conference season, Green is averaging 14.0 PPG, 11.4 RPG, and 3.5 APG. Penn State doesn't have anyone on the floor that can matchup with him.
One of those talented supporting members is sophomore Keith Appling, who has taken over the PG duties from Kalin Lucas. Appling is scoring 12.8 PPG with 4.3 APG. He's got a similar game to Frazier in that they're both not great shooters, but capable of attacking the basket and getting to the foul line. Appling has a 51.5 free throw rate on the year compared to Frazier's 44.8 mark.
Michigan State's rotation goes 8-deep and they have a great mix of height, athleticism, and experience. Valpo transfer Brandon Wood and true freshman Branden Dawson are their 3rd and 4th scorers respectively. The development of their big men Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix have also been huge to MSU's unexpected success this season. Then there's Austin Thornton, who is still around making the little plays that any winning needs.
Penn State can play as hard as they want to, but they still will struggle with MSU's athleticism. I'm curious to see if PSU can compete with the Spartans on the boards. PSU has been one of the best rebounding teams in the conference, but MSU is the best. I know Chambers will never accept them, but I'm looking for moral victories in this one. If PSU can compete and regain some confidence, I'll be happy to see how they close out the season with a much easier schedule ahead of them.