Michigan came into the game yesterday looking for a regular season championship. While their fate ultimately lied in the hands of the Ohio State Buckeyes, the Wolverines' did their part in State College, building what turned out to be an insurmountable 19-point lead. Once again for the Nits, the hole they dug themselves was too deep to overcome. A late 23-8 run from Penn State whittled down UM's lead to 4 with two minutes left.
When Penn State put the pressure on Michigan, true freshman Trey Burke looked like a 5th-year senior. Ten of his team-leading 19 points came in the final 4 minutes. He made a nifty 4-point play, followed it up with a strong baseline drive for a layup, and hit all four of his foul shots down the stretch to ice it for Michigan.
The Nittany Lions continued to struggle defending yet another perimeter-oriented team. Michigan was deadly from behind-the-arc as they got big contributions from Tim Hardaway Jr. and Evan Smotrycz. Smotrycz' pick-and-pop game gave PSU's bigs all kinds of trouble on the perimeter. He scored 17 points on just 7 shots. Hardaway Jr, a 29% 3-point shooter, built off his 4-4 performance from deep against Illinois and made 3 of 6 attempts against PSU. Overall, Michigan on 10 of their 18 attempts from deep (56%). They were also efficient from inside the perimeter as well, hitting 15 of 24 shots (63%).
While the defense continued to struggle, Penn State had some great contributions on the other end of the floor, particularly from Jermaine Marshall and Ross Travis. Marshall was consistent through the whole game on his way to a career-high 27 points (10-18 FGA, 4-8 from 3) along with 8 rebounds. He played all 40 minutes and only committed one foul and two turnovers. It was easily Jermaine's best game of his career. Travis also set a new career-high with 15 points (5-5 FGA, 5-7 FTA) and was a monster on the offensive glass (5 rebounds).
Penn State did a great job in winning the turnover battle and earning such an advantage on the glass, but Michigan's offensive execution was nearly flawless. The 71.4% eFG% was the highest percentage allowed by PSU this season.
Tim Frazier struggled throughout the game, but he did break the single-season assist record previously held by Talor Battle. Frazier scored 11 points, but only went 4-16 from the floor. He missed a number of a layups/floaters that rimmed out, but he did dish 5 assists and grabbed 4 steals. The duo of Jon Graham and Sasa Borovnjak really struggled. Graham went just 1-7 and 3 turnovers in just 17 minutes. Borovnjak only took one shot in 16 minutes. They combined for just 2 points and 1 rebound in 33 minutes, while struggling to defend the pick-and-roll against Smotrycz.
Some credit needs to go out to Matt Glover (also grabbed 8 rebounds) and Travis for their free throw performances. Both players have had horrendous struggles at time from the foul line, but they made 9 of their 11 attempts against Michigan. Travis in particular converted a huge one-and-one during PSU's big comeback.
Penn State finishes the regular season at 12-19 (4-14). They face Indiana in the first round of the new 12-team Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis on Thursday. This will be the third time in 4 years PSU-IU have been matched in the first round. However, this year Indiana is the higher seed and will be the favorite to move on. You can find the Big Ten tournament bracket here.