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Penn State Basketball Game 11 Recap: Lions Survive Slugfest Against Duquesne, 68-59

In one of their worst efforts of the year, the Lions slogged their way to a 68-59 win over a putrid-shooting Duqane team.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Mid-to-late December games always have a tendency to drop tremendously in quality. This one seemingly was no different. Penn State got off track from the start after a myriad of quick foul calls. DJ Newbill and Brandon Taylor both picked up two fouls early, and neither played more than 10 minutes in the first half. Tim Frazier eventually got into a little trouble as well, as did Ross Travis.

But Duquesne wasn't able to take advantage of the Lions' disjointed play. What appeared to be a powerful Dukes' attack on paper had the worst shooting night they'll likely have all year. The Dukes guards especially - Derrick Colter and Tra'Vaughn White - combined to shoot 3-21 from the floor for just eight points. The duo averages 28.5 points per game. As a team, Duquesne shot 4-23 (17.4%) from behind the arc. It was truly a #duqane-like performance from a team who had comparable percentages to Penn State coming in.

You would think Penn State would destroy a team that missed forty-six of their 63 field goal attempts, but they did not. The Lions' offense had plenty of struggles themselves, rarely finding room to drive to the rack like they had done previously so many times this season. They once again hit stretches in the second half where they lazily turned the ball over every other possession to let their defeated opponent right back in it.

It was maddening to watch, even more so for Coach Chambers, who couldn't be pleased to see his team somehow open up a 19-point lead late, only to allow Duquesne to go on an 11-0 run in less than two minutes to make it interesting. They hung on in the end, though, for a 68-59 victory that improves their record to 8-3.

Four Factors Analysis

Team Possessions PPP eFG% OReb% TO% FT Rate
Penn State 65 1.05 50.0% 31.6% 16.9% 16.4
Duquesne - 0.91 30.2% 38.9% 10.8% 54.0

Hard to make sense of numbers like these when such an anomaly like Duquesne's shooting woes skews the figures. It's fairly concerning that Duquesne shot so poorly, yet still almost achieved 100.0 efficiency (1.0 PPP). The last time PSU shot that poorly (two years ago at Purdue), it completely botched their offense, and the Lions only scored 42 points. How were the Dukes able to keep it close without being able to throw the ball through the hoop?

Second chances, very few turnovers, and free throw opportunities. Duquesne did grab 21 offensive rebounds, including twelve in the second period, for PSU's worst allowed percentage in this category so far this year. The Dukes are not a strong rebounding outfit and were the beneficiaries of some long rebounds, but that total is always unacceptable. They also got to the foul line a bunch, specifically their big man, Ovie Soko (who scored Duquesne's first 9 points). Soko has been very good at getting to the foul line all year (he had 14 attempts tonight on eight shots), so Penn State wasn't the only team unable to keep him off the charity stripe.

For the Lions' numbers, it's only worth noting their surprisingly low free throw rate. I think that small number is very indicative of the lack of aggressiveness PSU played with tonight. They had only attempted six foul shots in the first 37 minutes of the game. Not too often will you get out-shot from the free throw line by 24 (34-10), commit 10 more fouls (25-15), and come up with a road win.

Player of the Game

Allen Roberts is the winner here. The senior came up huge, especially in the first half, when the Lions' backcourt was saddled with foul trouble. He was a calming presence in the disjointed period, scoring 10 points. He added probably the biggest bucket of the game in the second half, killing a Duquesne rally with a long three to put PSU back up eight. He finished with 15 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists off the bench in 25 minutes.

Random Observations

  • Donny Jack Block Party - Donovon Jack continued his strong play on both ends, finishing with 9 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 blocks (bringing his last 2-game total up to 13!). He continues to stay within the offense and convert opportunities when they present themselves.
  • Tim Frazier is a God - Some of Tim's frustrating turnovers late might have put a damper on our perception of his performance tonight, but he finished with 11 points and a career-high 13 assists. Seven of his assists led to 3-pointers. Add it all up and he had a hand in 44 of PSU's 68 points. That's 65%.
  • B-Titty Slumping in December - After a superb start, Brandon Taylor has fallen back to earth a little bit. He had his worst game of the year tonight, fouling out with 7 points and 4 rebounds. He's only made 3 of his last 15 three-point attempts (20%), while picking up 13 fouls in the last three games.
  • Ross Looks Lost But is a Boss - Really thought Ross Travis struggled tonight as well, but Tim helped him score 9 points and he grabbed a career-high-tying 13 rebounds. Again, the rebounding numbers are skewed because there were so many of them, but if Ross can put up these numbers in a 'down' game, what can he do when he turns it on?

Looking Ahead

There will be much excitement as the Lions return to Rec Hall for the first time in seventeen years for their next game (Saturday, 2:00pm). But for Penn State and their season, this is a pivotal game against a sneaky good Princeton club who is already 7-1 on the year. They defeated Rutgers tonight (78-73) and also went into Lewisburg and put a hurting on Bucknell (66-53). The Tigers are a team that will ruin the first Rec Hall experience for many if PSU plays like they did tonight.