We may be just five games into this young hoops season, but it's time to face the facts: This Penn State team has weapons of multiple kinds. Looking for a senior leader who's a dynamic ball-handler that can blow past defenders and dish out assists? Tim Frazier fulfills those satisfactions. In dire need of three-point shooting? Brandon Taylor's got you covered (5 for 9 from downtown today, en route to a career-high and team-leading 25 total points). Looking for rebounding and points in the paint? Ross Travis can do that (Travis had a double-double on the day with 13 rebounds to go with his 11 points). Want a jack-of-all-trades who can stroke it, drive to the hoop, grab boards, hit free throws and rack up assists? DJ Newbill (23 points, 8-for-11 at the free throw line, nine rebounds, and seven assists) is your guy.
Despite Tim Frazier having another pedestrian-like scoring day (nine points, well below his seasonal average of 18.2 ppg), Penn State still managed to rack up 93 points, surpassing the 83 points they put up last weekend at Penn as their highest total output this season, and also marking the first time since a December 2009 victory over Gardner-Webb that they scored over 90 points in a game (PSU scored 104 in that aforementioned game). There was also plenty of involvement from the PSU bench, as they accounted for 23 points, with 15 of them coming between Allen Roberts (8) and Graham Woodward (7). Geno Thorpe and Julian Moore also pitched in with four points apiece.
This game was actually a tight one in the first half. After shooting out to a 9-2 start, things got rather flaccid in a hurry for PSU as Longwood quickly whittled the lead down to 11-10 at the first media timeout. Thanks to some technical difficulties at the scorer's table, that media timeout lasted much longer than usual, leading to both teams performing shoot-arounds in order to keep themselves loose.
The delay would prove to be problematic for PSU, as they continued to struggle afterwards. Nine first half turnovers (many of them unforced, thanks to sloppy passing and a few travel calls) and impotent three-point shooting (PSU was only 1-for-8 in the first half from downtown) allowed Longwood to hang around and even lead for a little bit. Nonetheless, PSU managed to push its lead to ten points right before the half, and those ten points would end up being the closest Longwood would get the rest of the game.
The second half saw Penn State quickly erect an 18-point lead, which was ignited by a breakaway dunk off a steal by Ross. Longwood however, fought back to cut that lead back down to ten, before PSU finally got it back up for good by shooting it from all over the place, including an 8-of-16 performance from downtown.
Four Factors Analysis
Both teams were relatively even when it came to turnovers and shooting free throws, but the rest of the categories were clearly an advantage for Penn State, particularly points per possession. While 1.02 is still a tad too high defensively-speaking, the 67 points by Longwood are the second lowest opponent scoring output, thus far. So, we've got that going for us...which is nice.
Player of the Game
I'm just going to be politically correct here and call it a 'tie' between Taylor and Newbill. B-Titty's three-point carpet-bombing combined with DJ's all-around solid performance produced more than half (48) of PSU's point total on the afternoon.
- Height Matters...Julian Moore has some serious bulking up to do and will probably get tossed around by the Mitch McGarys of the Big Ten, but it sure was fun watching the 6'9" forward pull down boards and deflect passing attempts inside by Longwood.
- Not Quite Like a Rave, But...I just noticed for the first time that the BJC scoreboard flashes strobe lights from the bottom everytime a PSU player throws down a dunk. Just once, I would love to hear Jeff Brown (the BJC PA announcer) go NBA Jam on us by yelling BOOMSHAKALAKA or HE'S ON FIRE after such a play. While I'm at it, I should also add that I'm happy to see the BJC finally doing starting lineups like every other basketball arena in America (i.e. introducing the visitors first, then lights out and pump-up video, followed by introducing the home starters)
- Longwood Actually Has Fans...Perhaps it was due to the sparse attendance at today's game, but Longwood's cheering section was larger and louder than I ever could have imagined. Even when they were trailing by double digits in the second half, the entire bench along with their fans cheered loudly over every positive play. You can tell that they treat these games that we as fans tend to sleepwalk through as if they're the NCAA Championship Game.
The Nittany Lions have one final Barclay's Classic tune-up against Monmouth (NJ) this Tuesday at the Jordan Center. Monmouth is coming off a 10-point loss at St. John's, who will be PSU's first opponent at the Barclay's Center this Friday. Please try and refrain from using the transitive property after this game when figuring out who will win the PSU-St. John's showdown.
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