This isn't the first time Penn State basketball has reminded us of why we suffer, but tonight might've provided the greatest satisfaction ever as a devoted fan of this downtrodden program. This team has done nothing but frustrate for 2 straight months, but in the span of about a half hour, they wiped away all of those negative emotions. It really feels like we just witnessed a championship win.
There's no logical explanation for how it happened either. All we know is that it was overdue after how this team has continued to battle through 14 emotionally-draining losses. It's that much sweeter to come against the program's nemesis, Trey Burke, and a top-5 Michigan team. Who knows how much longer Burke will be in a corn uniform, but PSU exacted their revenge on the one-time Nittany Lion verbal, as Dick Vitale loved to remind us over and over again this season.
Penn State was down 66-51 with just over 10:00 to play. They had been essentially incapable of getting a stop for most of the game. Sure, they were forcing a few turnovers with their 1-2-2 pressure, but the Wolverines were still filling it up and on pace to score 90 points. It didn't seem like Chambers' team was ever going to be able to catch up to the Wolverine's output.
But the Lions, as it's been said for over and over again for 2 months now, never gave up. Jermaine Marshall got hot (25 points, 6 3PM), while DJ Newbill (17 points, 5 assists) kept drawing the defense and finding him. Ross Travis unleashed #BossTravis and was a force against UM once again, even after he went down with a calf cramp with 3 minutes to play. His statline read - 15 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, and 0 turnovers in 36 grueling minutes, easily his best performance of his career. Penn State also got timely contributions from their two seniors on senior night - Sasa Borovnjak (9 points, 5 rebounds) and Nick Colella (9 points, numerous charges taken).
They slowly kept chipping away until Michigan suddenly couldn't find a basket. Trey Burke looked human and it was the guys in white that were making the winning plays down the stretch. They took that monkey off their back and fired it into the sun. The BJC floor was stormed and there was much rejoicing.
No one deserved it more than everyone in that lockerroom. The coaches, the players, the support staff, even Billy Oliver. I hope they all enjoy this one for the rest of their lives.
For once, they made nobody care about Big Macs.