All of us in attendance at the BJC on Wednesday night were treated to one of the ugliest wins in Penn State basketball history. In its first round CBI matchup against Hampton, Penn State scored a pyrrhic victory of sorts, taking down the Pirates, 69-65.
Penn State pounced on Hampton early, racing out to an 8-0 lead, and led by as many as 10 points in the first half. While Hampton fought back, Penn State's lead felt...insurmountable? Is that the word I'm looking for? It didn't seem like Hampton had a chance. So yeah, I guess. Regardless, Penn State went into the half up 33-25.
Then the second half happened, and it was just weird. Really, really weird. Hampton came out and punched Penn State in the mouth, and all of a sudden, Penn State forgot how to play basketball. It was like Return to Rec, only the lead wasn't as big and Penn State won. Hell, there were times during the second half where the Pirates were winning. How the hell did that happen? There weren't many people in the BJC, so it's not surprising that it was completely silent when Hampton was winning, but it was a different kind of silent, one of despair instead of apathy.
Anyway, Penn State took a lead, held Hampton at arm's length, and that was that. It was much closer than it needed to be, but the Nittany Lions won. That's all that matters, right?
Four Factors Analysis
As you can see, Penn State won this game on the glass (a 42-18 advantage) and at the FT line. Don't get me wrong, the game was maybe the worst officiated game I've ever seen, but Penn State got to the line and hit its FT's, going 30-for-40 from the stripe. Other than that, Hampton took care of the ball better, and shot a little better, but it wasn't enough to overtake the Nittany Lions.
Player of the Game
I honestly don't know. You can make a case for Tim Frazier (10 points, 7 boards), Brandon Taylor (14 points, 9 rebounds) or D.J. Newbill (19 points). It was pretty ugly, and there wasn't one Nittany Lion who really stuck out. I really can't stress how ugly of a game it was. Penn State needs to collectively get its act together in order to stay alive in this tournament.
Hampton's Bench Was Spectacular -- I really can't stress this enough. They were a bunch of guys who realized they were in the CBI and were just there to have a good time. They made fun of the student section, checked out the cheerleaders, and celebrated like crazy. You know how some teams have that one guy who dances and what not on the bench? They had 10 of them. They were awesome.
Flipp Flopped -- NAILED IT WITH THAT PUN. John Johnson started, went 1-for-3 from the field, and played 15 minutes. He barely played in the second. He just hasn't looked like he's fit in this season.
The Kids Are Hot Tonight -- Graham Woodward played 10 minutes and struggled at times, but he was tasked with inbounding in the final few minutes against Hampton's relentless press. Geno Thorpe, meanwhile, had his best game: 25 minutes, 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 4-for-4 down the stretch from the charity stripe. He also played his usual great defense and talked shit like crazy. It was wonderful.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ -- That represents Penn State's frontcourt. Jordan Dickerson had 4 points, 5 rebounds and 3 fouls in 18 minutes, going 1-for-1 from the field. Donovon Jack played 10 minutes with no points and no confidence. Pat Chambers' preferred frontcourt was either Ross Travis and Brandon Taylor, or just one of those guys with four guards. If Penn State wants to get better next year, it needs Jordovon Dickerjack to improve.
Penn State takes on Siena in Albany on Monday night. Siena took down a really good Stony Brook squad on Tuesday, 66-55. The Saints -- led by guard Rob Poole and forward Brett Bisping -- were 16-17 on the season, with an 11-9 record in the MAAC. Of course, we all remember them doing the Lord's work and beating Ohio State in the Tournament in 2009. The game tips at 7 p.m. I may be there. I'll let y'all know.