After their most listless performance ever against Northwestern, the Nittany Lions went on the road to face another similarly-challenged Big Ten opponent. Purdue came in with a sub-.500 record and also figures to finish towards the bottom of the league. The end result was the virtually the same, however, as Penn State was put away fairly easily.
It was up in the air how the Lions would respond with the quick turnaround after their previous letdown, but the fight was back in them in West Lafayette. They just couldn't get out of their own heads, as they put up their worst shooting performance of the season (and there sure have been some bad ones). It took a Brandon Taylor 50-foot heave at the end of the first half to keep Penn State above 40 points for the game.
Purdue always plays hard defensively, especially in Mackey, but Penn State seemed to leave plenty of opportunities on the floor. The stats don't lie. This was Penn State's worst shooting performance of the year by a decent margin, all things considered.
No one is ever going to win a Big Ten game with this kind of inefficiency. Sure, Purdue's defense definitely made life hard for Penn State, who isn't really difficult to defend without Tim Frazier anyway. Even still, there were numerous missed layups and mid-range shots that weren't contested. Shots that every Division-1 player should be expected to convert.
DJ Newbill was scoreless for the first 33 minutes, while missing quite a few floaters/layups of his own. Jermaine Marshall started out well, but flickered out with a few easy misses in the second half. Sasa Borovnjak finished the game just 1-6 from the floor, including a mind-numbing brick on an uncontested 3-foot jump hook after a loose ball scrum presented him the golden opportunity. Ross Travis was just 2-7 with many of his misses of the mid-range jumper variety, whether open or contested. Brandon Taylor scored 11 first half points, which turned out to be enough to lead the team, but was shutout in the 2nd half.
Penn State's bench? They logged 41 very unproductive minutes with just 4 points, 2 turnovers, and 7 fouls. Chambers drastically switched up his rotation as seldom-used Pat Ackerman and Akosa Maduegbunam were the first players off the bench, while walk-on Kevin Onyeaka saw his first action as a Nittany Lion, but it didn't particularly matter. If this isn't more indicative of the lack of talent on this roster right now, I don't know what is.
Not much else to talk about when you can't score. Chambers has embraced their offensive ineptitude by motivating his guys to play with attitude and a gritty, grind-it-out style. But it's simply impossible to keep giving maximum effort as an over-matched team when you can't even make the easy ones.
The nightmare season continues for Chambers, who has never coached in a situation as bleak as this one. Sure, last year was just as difficult, but Frazier could be leaned on. These guys, not so much.