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Radford 86, Penn State 74: Early Season Defensive Woes Continue for Nittany Lions

The Highlanders shot 55% from beyond the arc, leaving Penn State in their wake.

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

If you didn't get a chance to catch the Duquesne debacle last Friday you got a dramatic over-reenactment of it on Tuesday night. Radford came out of the gates on fire, hitting seven of 15 first half threes. RU's Cameron Jones in particular dominated the opening period on 4-6 shooting beyond the arc, continuing Penn State's perimeter defensive woes. Brandon Taylor has a quiet eight points to pace the Lions, who underwent another slow start. Full credit to the Highlanders, who were playing their fifth game in eight days but showed no signs of physical or mental fatigue.

Penn State came out of the gate with a little more gusto in the second half, forcing a turnover on the first defensive opportunity and scoring on each of their first four possessions. Julian Moore was involved heavily, scoring on a pair of pretty post moves that utilized his size advantage.

But Radford counter-punched on the backs of Jones and Rashun Davis and blew the game as wide open as it would get. Taylor picked up his fourth foul with 11:44 left to play in the half and it was all Highlanders from there as the Nittany Lions could not force an empty Radford possession to save their lives. Jones continued his assault on the BJC nets in the second, finishing with a game-high 23 on 8-11 shooting.

Taylor re-entered the game with 8:03 left and sparked a small run but Radford continued to bomb from downtown. Davis' second three of the night with Josh Reaves squarely in his grill served as the dagger, putting the Highlanders up 77-68 with 3:17 left.

Payton Banks did his part in trying to preserve the niceness of the game late:

Four Factors Analysis

Team Possessions PPP eFG% OReb% TO% FT Rate
Penn State 75 0.99 51.7 22.9 18.7 35.0
Radford - 1.15 67.3 27.6 24.0 34.5

Just how well did Radford shoot on Tuesday night? Better than Duquesne did on Friday, that's how well. The Dukes put up a scorching 65.7% eFG, and Radford beat that number. Ken Pomeroy himself tells us that three-point shooting numbers are mostly influenced by the offense, but it can't just be bad luck that Penn State is suffering from, can it?

Player of the Game - Julian Moore: 16 pts, 3 reb, 1 blk, 1 stl

It's a shame that the redshirt sophomore's breakout offensive performance had to go to waste. Moore was given opportunities to post up Radford's undersized big men in the second half and his 7-11 shooting from the floor tells you that he took advantage of those deep touches. Like most Lions, consistency has been the biggest issue in Moore's young career. Another big game against Bucknell on Saturday would be a promising sign for a team desperately in need of a big man for the future.

Random Observations

  • Ed DeChellis back - The trademark of the previous coaching staff in State College was poor three-point defense and sub-par free throw shooting. These last two performances have felt eerily reminiscent of the ED era. Chambers' defenses have always developed as the years go on but it's clear that this squad needs some serious short-term improvement to save a little face in the non-con.
  • Spoiled career-highs - In addition to Moore's career-best performance, Devin Foster turned in a new best with ten points. Shep Garner even racked up a career-high eight assists, shouting out the haters who say he's not a true point-guard *raises hand, still*
  • Zone is for cowards - ok that might be harsh but the 2-3 zone has done Chambers no favors in the last two games. Opposing teams have been able to pass to open and set shooters far too easily - Duquesne finished with 20 assists on Friday and Radford had 18 in this game. Penn State has been able to force turnovers from this look but the risk has to outweigh the reward at some point.
  • Radford might be pretty good? - Losing to a low-major program at home is bad, but this isn't Mike Jones' first major scalp this season. Radford beat a Georgetown team that is currently 1-3 but 34th in the KenPom rankings in double OT earlier this season.
  • That great 2016 recruiting class is still signed - just a reminder, you don't have to worry about them unless Chambers gets fired.

Looking Ahead

The Nittany Lions get a few days off before hosting Bucknell on Saturday. The Bison are 3-1 and have proven they can win in the BJC, although they're under new leadership this time around. More on the Lewisburg squad on Friday.