It seems like the ills that plagued Penn State throughout and December and much of January may finally be cured. The Nittany Lions were once again in the midst of a grinding affair, leading the Boilermakers by no more than six for much of the second half. A month ago, that lead wouldn't have been safe in the slightest. But today Penn State made plays, winning plays, that allowed the lead to balloon to 11 by the time the final whistle blew. Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill were behind most of those plays, combining for 37 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists on the day. Frazier played with the confidence and instinct that seemed to be lacking in Penn State's win in Columbus, and the supporting cast, led by Brandon Taylor's 15 points and eight rebounds, continued to provide the scoring firepower needed to put them over the hump.
Four Factors Analysis
As you can see, this was a pretty comprehensive victory. Penn State outrebounded the B1G's number one rebounding team, even holding Purdue to a first half without an offensive board. A.J. Hammons went to work in the second half, finishing the game with 18 and 12, but the rest of the Boilers stagnated after starting strong offensively. PSU was aggressive with the rock, shooting 50% on two-pointers despite a 3-10 showing from Ross Travis.
Player of the Game
D.J. Newbill was once again outstanding, pouring in 19 points on 12 shots. His five offensive boards set the tone for his team, who crashed the glass with vigor all day long. He has such a powerful grace about him when he drives to the rim, and time after time he showed no fear in trying to score over Hammons and co.
- Team effort - Frazier and Newbill were great, but when the supporting cast shows up like it did today Penn State is a tough opponent. Graham Woodward (or as the BTN announcers called him, Cammeron Woodward) started his third game in a row and played with confidence, turning the ball over just once in 22 minutes and adding five points. Donovon Jack is just 1-12 from three during this winning streak, but he still found a way to not foul out against Hammons and even registered four boards and a block in addition to his seven points. Jordan Dickerson didn't contribute much aside from a huge momentum-swinging block in transition, but the it's these kind of little things that the Lions weren't getting during the six-game skid that make a big difference.
- B-Titty's resurgence - Performances like this make him even more frustrating when he's bricking three-pointers and committing silly fouls. Taylor had a fantastic game aside from his four turnovers, getting important putbacks and sinking free-throws down the stretch. This game adds even more credence to the idea that he's Penn State's most important player not named Frazier or Newbill.
- #CHAOSLEAGUE - PSU moves out of the B1G cellar with the win. They now sit tied for 10th with Purdue and are a game back of a five-way tie for 5th in the conference, and a game and a half behind the team with the most overall losses. I don't know either.
The Nittany Lions travel to East Lansing on Thursday night, where they'll look to put together two halves like the first twenty minutes in the reverse fixture. Michigan State is expecting to have Adreian Payne back from an injury layoff, because that's just Penn State basketball's luck. More on Sparty this week.