The Lions returned to the comfort of the BJC Saturday afternoon after two tough road losses. The frontline was abused against Pittsburgh, but they were eager to bounce back today against Marshall. Ross Travis and Donovon Jack turned in monster performances as Penn State went wire-to-wire in a win that was not as close as the final score indicated. The Lions improved to 7-3 on the year.
All five starters reached double-digits for the second time this year, led by Travis who had a career-high 20 points to go with 6 rebounds. DJ Newbill chipped in 17 points, while Tim Frazier added 11 along with 9 assists. Neither of PSU's studs played more than 33 minutes in the game. Penn State threw down up to at least seven dunks in the game, as Travis, Jack, and Newbill consistently attacked the basket.
The Lions jumped out to a 11-1 lead at the start of the game. Marshall pressed the whole game, but PSU was able to break it easily throughout the contest (until the freshmen subs struggled in garbage time). The Nittany Lions had only 12 turnovers in the 78-possession game with three of them coming in the last 3 minutes. They withstood a couple of Marshall runs to take a 47-32 half-time lead.
The second half was much of the same, as the Lions took advantage of Marshall's mistakes before opening up a 26-point lead in the second half. When the starters were pulled, Marshall then went on a 17-4 to nearly pull off the ridiculous back-door cover (11.5-point line).
Four Factors Analysis
It's a shame that Marshall's 17-4 run in garbage time has kind of skewed the numbers a bit. The Herd did get to the 1.0 PPP plateau, but they were held in check by PSU's starters for most of the game. Only Kareem Canty (28 points on 20 shots) was able to damage the PSU defense consistently. 22.3 PPG scorer Elijah Pittman was held to just 10 points on 13 shots.
Penn State had their worst 3-point shooting display of the year, converting just 7 of their 24 attempts (29%). They were not helped by Brandon Taylor and Allen Roberts' 2-for-11 combined performance. Still, the Lions were able to shoot a healthy 53.7% eFG% thanks to great looks inside the arc (59.1% on their two's).
Player of the Game
Lot of good candidates in this team performance, including Ross Travis' career-high, but the nod has to go to Donovon Jack for his 18-point, 7-rebound, 7-block performance. The true sophomore was everywhere, finishing dunks and layups in the lane, but also stepping out for a 3-pointer. Defensively, he was deflecting shots everywhere, while not getting into any foul trouble until late in the game.
- Bench Minutes - Penn State didn't great contributions from their bench, but they played 30% of the minutes tonight. That's a lot more than PSU's 23.6% average on the season.
- Geno Thorpe - Just wanted to mention that Geno got a little excited on a dunk attempt in the first half that he badly whiffed on. Don't expect to see that again.
- ATTITUDE - Allen Wisniewski got some run in the first half and did not disappoint. He even scored some attitude points on a couple of ill-advised dives, but surely the staff will like the effort given from their senior captain off the bench.
- Payton Banks - I don't think it has ever been officially announced, but the true freshman from California didn't see action once again in a game that was not close. In fact, he wasn't even dressed on the bench. Perhaps some of his nagging injuries are the cause of his evident redshirt?
Penn State has one more road-trip on their non-conference schedule. They will travel to Pittsburgh to take on Duquesne this Wednesday. The Dukes are in a major rebuilding process and should not pose too much of a threat to PSU. More on Duquesne this week.