When good teams play bad teams, they are supposed to put on a show. They are supposed to impose their will on the lesser opponent, do just about everything right, and coast to a win.
Penn State did all of those things against Dartmouth, because at this point in the season, we have enough evidence to say that Penn State is a good team.
The Nittany Lions took down the Big Green, 69-49. Sure, PSU didn't jump out to a completely convincing lead within two minutes like, say, the Monstars or something. Yet the team showed what it can do against bad opponents. It showed what we wanted to see against Marshall or duqane or Bucknell or Charlotte. It was 40 complete minutes of basketball, more or less. Compared to last year, when PSU struggled against Mount St. Mary's, this was the perfect way to cap the non-conference slate, a performance which *should* provide a springboard into Big Ten play.
D.J. Newbill got 15 points in almost no game time (at least by his standards). Geno Thorpe and John Johnson showed how valuable they are off the bench, as they were both in double-digits. Brandon Taylor had a bad shooting night, but he found ways to compensate for that by impacting the game on defense and on the boards. Honestly, there isn't too much to say other than it was a complete, dominant performance by a good team against a bad team.
Now, Penn State is 12-1. Twelve and One. Doce y Uno. God, this team has been so much fun.
Four Factors Analysis
The thing that immediately jumps out is Penn State's eFG% on both sides of the ball. The Nittany Lions shot 23-for-49 from the field and 7-for-19 from three, which led to the team having a pretty efficient night, especially considering that they usually have an eFG% of 49.2 percent.
However, their defense was far more impressive, as the Nittany Lions put the clamps on the Big Green. PSU limited Dartmouth to 19-for-54 from the field, which is really, really bad. Their three point defense was even better, as the Nittany Lions - who came into the game allowing opponents to shoot 31.9 percent from downtown - limited Dartmouth to a paltry 2-for-20 (a cool 10 percent) from deep.
Player of the Game -- Geno Thorpe
Yeah, D.J. Newbill led the way with 17 points and 4 assists, per usual. But Geno Thorpe had a fantastic game, as he went for 12 points and 4 rebounds in 21 minutes of play. Of course, he did all of the usual Geno stuff that doesn't show up on the box score -- diving for balls, locking down on defense, being a general nuisance for the opponents -- but he took advantage of his time, as he was incredibly efficient from the field: 3-for-5, 1-for-1 on threes and 5-for-7 from the free throw line. He's playing like someone who can be an awesome second option most nights, and he looks like someone who can possibly be in line for a bigger role for the rest of this year.
- Look at DJ Newbill's minutes. LOOK AT THEM.: The biggest concern about DJ Newbill was that he may wear himself out by the end of the season. Coming into today, he was ninth in America in percentage of minutes played, according to KenPom. Today, he only played 30 minutes. He got the chance to rest a little, which was good for him. Even guys like Brandon Taylor (29 minutes), John Johnson (22), Donovon Jack (21), Geno Thorpe (21), Ross Travis (21), Shep Garner (17) and Jordan Dickerson (13) all got limited run, which again, was really good. Fresh legs are awesome. Also...
- Sup, Bench Guys?: Devin Foster, Alan Wisniewski, Kevin Montminy, Julian Moore and Payton Banks all got some run. Wiz and Hoops McGloin only got one minute each, but Moore played six minutes, while Foster and Banks played nine. Sure, it's barely any time, but any kind of game action helps, especially if someone ahead of them gets hurt *knocks on every piece of wood within 500 miles of me*.
- We're 12-1: We're 12-1.
Penn State travels to Madison to take on No. 6 Wisconsin on Dec 31. This is kind of stating the obvious, but this is the biggest game that the Nittany Lions will play during the regular season. I mean, it's a game on the road against a top-10 team in one of the sport's most hostile environments to kick off conference play. If Penn State wants to show that it's a really, really good team that needs to earn everyone's respect in the Big Ten, this is a game they need to win. If they lose? Whatever, 12-2 is awesome, too.