There's different shades of losing and Penn State is determined to bring them all out this season. Suffering defeat in so many excruciating ways can take its toll on any fan base, but there's a little extra salt when the pain is delivered by a former player that once caused nothing but frustration in his time in the blue and white. Jon Graham scored 16 points on 7 shots in 20 minutes tonight for Maryland. It was the same Jon Graham that once did this in another heartbreaking Penn State loss. The same Jon Graham that willingly gave up his Penn State scholarship to walk on at this dad's alma mater at Maryland. He was never expected to be a serious factor for the Terrapins, although a plethora of transfers in the frontcourt under Mark Turgeon has left the door open for the 5th year senior, now on scholarship.
But there he was Wednesday night, drop-stepping Jordan Dickerson or finishing off another nice feed from Melo Trimble. It continued to fuel the Murphy's Law-like script Penn State's 2015 Big Ten season is taking. Even the ever-optimistic Chambers seemed to think it was inevitable Graham was going to go off tonight. It's hard to say the senior wasn't the difference Maryland's 64-58 win over Penn State.
Perhaps the blow below the belt from Graham was lessened by the fact that Penn State simply didn't play very well and didn't deserve to win unlike some of their past losses. Newbill had to do entirely too much and there was no flow established in the Lions' offense. They rarely looked inside and were ineffective at drawing fouls. While they were able to cut out the foolish turnovers that have plagued them recently, they weren't able to avoid a humiliating 5-second call after failing to in bound the ball late despite having a timeout left. All-in-all, it was just another game where Penn State couldn't find a way to make the winning plays when they needed them the most. Sure, there could have been a whistle on DJ Newbill's final attempt with 23 seconds to play, but you have to earn the right to complain about the officiating. While they arguably did in other games, they did not tonight.
Dez Wells was the main catalyst for the Terrapins with 23 points on just 10 shots. Maryland's freshman phenom, point guard Melo Trimble, was timid in looking for his shot but delived eight key assists, including seven in the second half. The rest of Maryland looked quite average and it's a shame Penn State wasn't able to capitalize on the rest of the Terps' off night.
Four Factors Analysis
The numbers show this was not a game PSU deserved to win. The Lions shooting was inconsistent all night. 46% on 2's and 27% on 3's is a recipe for a loss against anyone, anywhere. The ball movement that was evident against Rutgers and Minnesota did not travel to the Xfinity Center. The Lions did not get good quality shots all night and remained in the game early due to the acrobatics of Geno Thorpe and Newbill.
Player of the Game
Since I can't pick Jon Graham...
DJ Newbill carried the squad once again, but overall, this was not a particularly great showing from Penn State, at least offensively. Not many individual performances to rave about when your team scores just 0.85 PPP. Newbill logged his usual line - 18 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists - but not at his usual efficiency (6-19 shooting). It all amounts to loss #8 in the end. Whether you think he was fouled on the last possession or not.
- Not Shep's night - The young freshman has established himself as one of the Lions' top-3 players. Problem with that for this Lions team is that he is due for some bad performances. Just 6 points on 2-9 shooting (0-5 from 3) with 4 turnovers ain't gonna get it done. The worst part of his stat line? 2-5 from the charity stripe. Shep will have better days.
- Brandon Taylor back - B Titty did not have a tremendous night in his first game back, but he looked agile and hit two HUGE threes that kept Penn State in it. Hopefully that clutch shot-making continues down the stretch of some of these close games.
- Travis' Nightmare Season Continues - The senior played 28 minutes tonight. He made the Lions' first basket of the game. It was a complete abomination after that, capped off by his unawareness to call timeout and prevent a deflating 5-second turnover when PSU was down 4 with 7 seconds left. At some point someone's gotta realize this ain't working for the sake of both parties.
- Julian Moore is Ill - If you were wondering where Julian was, the radio broadcast claimed he is battling illness. He was isolated from the team bus and checked in for just one possession tonight. He looked like death and clearly couldn't go. Penn State needed him.
The Lions are in the midst of their toughest stretch of the Big Ten schedule, but the bus returns home to the BJC Saturday against a team incapable of scoring in the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Bad news for Penn State is many teams are incapable of scoring against the Huskers, as well. The Lions need a win for their morale with some of the games looming after this one on the schedule.