This game pretty much followed the script we all thought it would. Penn State got off to yet another dreadful start on the road and played a similar first half to the Iowa game. The second half didn't start much better until PSU finally found a groove and went on a 23-6 run. But then MSU woke back up and put away PSU behind Draymond Green's unstoppable force. Outside of PSU's run that lasted 7:30 in the second half, MSU outscored the Nits 71-34 the rest of the game.
Penn State came out firing from three, but nearly all of them were good looks from the guys who are suppose to be the 'shooters'. When the first media timeout came, Penn State was 0-6 (0-5 from 3) with 4 turnovers. They were fortunate to only be down 4-0, but it wasn't until 8 minutes in before PSU got on the board. This team's psyche is so fragile once the first shot or two doesn't drop, especially on the road. All of the execution goes out the window. Tim Frazier started pressing and making terrible plays (6 turnovers), while the rest of the team settled for worse shots and the offense stagnated.
Defensively, Penn State was pretty good, but they just couldn't matchup with MSU's size and athleticism on the boards. MSU grabbed 47.2% of their offensive rebounds, and there were plenty of opportunities (36). Once the game got tight in the 2nd half, MSU went back to Green, who finished with 23 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 assists. When Green got position inside, PSU couldn't stop anything whether Green finished on his own or dished to cutters.
The one thing PSU has been struggling with defensively is playing tough without fouling. Teams are getting to the foul line at an insane rate against PSU in conference play compared to anyone else. Penn State's defensive FTR in the Big Ten is 56.3 compared to the average mark of 35.1. Jermaine Marshall was great on offense in the 2nd half (10 point), but he also fouled out after picking up 4 fouls in 13 minutes. Frazier, Jon Graham, and Sasa Borovnjak all finished with 4 fouls, as well. Part of that is due to MSU's athleticism, but the fouls have been a recurring problem.
It's been incredibly frustrating seeing the same game over and over on the road, but it's also important to keep the perspective. We never really had any expectations for this team throughout the year except improvement. You could argue right now that they're not on that path. However, they just had 4 road games in the last 5 and faced 5 ranked teams in the last 6. You're not going to find a harder stretch in the country.
The worst of the schedule is over. Sure, they still have a trip to Madison, but these last few weeks offer 4 winnable home games and a nice opportunity to finish the season on a positive note. Do not lose interest in these guys because they just went through the gauntlet. They're still fighting.
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