Going into the game, most of us just hoped Penn State wouldn't get blown out too badly. We believed the team would have to have a near perfect game in order to pull the upset. Ironically, this was one of Penn State's worst played games this season, yet the Lions found themselves a referee's discretion away from winning the game.
Foul trouble reared its ugly head again, and were one of the main reasons Colorado was able to stay in the game. At the end of the first half, everyone but Payton Banks, Devin Foster, and Deividas Zemgulis had two fouls. Only Banks and Foster had none. In contrast, Colorado was only called for five fouls in the first half as a team. It got so bad that with 11 minutes left in the game, Chambers was forced to play switcheroo with Brandon Taylor and Josh Reaves every few possessions in order to avoid losing them altogether. As the fouls piled up, I was reminded of our game at Nebraska in 2013-14, where the Huskers ammassed an unbelievable 47 points off free throws. Difference this time around is that Colorado's ice-cold shooting allowed Penn State to stay within the game.
Fouls aside, the team did a pristine job of throwing different defenses at the Buffaloes. Penn State's many looks played a big part in Colorado's bad shooting night. The lions were able to confuse the Buffaloes for most of the night, leading to many rushed shots and turnovers. Unfortunately for the Lions, Colorado did find their shot late and was able to break the game open with about 6 minutes left. Penn State fought to get back within one, and the rest is history.
Four Factors Analysis
Penn State was able to pay their kind of game, slowing the pace down and allowing their defense to take control of the game. Colorado is used to being in the high 70s in possessions, and it was evident for most of the game that the slow pace made them umcomfortable. Getting killed on the boards and at the foul line, however, did not do the team any favors. I can't stress this enough, but if it weren't for Colorado living at the free-throw line, I'd be writing a different kind of recap right now.
Player of the Game - Shep Garner (26 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists)
Garner gets this by default, due to his stat sheet, but make no mistake: everyone played pretty poorly last night. Garner picked it up in the second half though, and his 3-pointer with seconds left put the Lions within that [unanswered] prayer of taking the game.
- Penn State contingent in Vegas. According to the announcers, there was a noticeable group of Penn Staters in attendance. Coupled with the showing at the Palestra, let's hope this is a sign of upcoming support for the team.
- These refs were bad. It's easy to say for the losing team, but man these refs were out of their minds. Lopsided fouls aside, there were bad goaltending calls, the phantom technical on Taylor (which we later found out it was allegedly due to a fan heckling Taylor), the missed jump ball with 7 seconds left in the game, and the refusal to even check the clock at the end were just unacceptable. It's like the couldn't be bothered to do their jobs.
- Defense is legit. If Penn State can find a way to stop fouling at their current rate, they are going to be a nightmare for other Big Ten teams this season. I'm excited to see what we can do in a much-weaker-than-expected Big Ten.
- Flava Flav is in the building! Flava Flav was once again spotted enjoying the game in Vegas, showing support for his cousin. We have our own celebrity, guys!
Penn State faces Kent State in the third-place game. Tip off is at 7:30 tonight (Wednesday). A 1-1 split would bring the team to a respectable 9-4 OOC record, something that seemed nearly impossible a month ago.