Less than a week ago, if you had told me that this Penn State team, one that had reverted to its familiar ways of failing to get over the hump in close contests and choking in the clutch, would run off three consecutive victories and find themselves with an opportunity to play for a shot at a Big Ten Tournament semifinals date with Wisconsin, I would have asked what you were smoking (and perhaps where I could get some).
When you think about it, things turned out probably the way one would've expected: A scrappy, underdog Penn State team riding high off of an upset victory over Iowa (and riding high with the #WhyNotUs mantra) jumped out to an early double-digit lead on the heels of some red-hot three point shooting courtesy of D.J. Newbill (who finished with a team-high 19 points) and Brandon Taylor. As the second half wore on however, PSU began to show clear signs that their third game in less than 48 hours was finally wearing on them, with the bottom falling out in the final nine minutes of the game, when PSU went up 50-44 on a Brandon Taylor trey and then didn't hit another shot from the field until the game's final minute. Meanwhile, Purdue took advantage of PSU's ice cold streak by running off 13 straight points (and countless offensive rebounds) to seal the deal.
Aside from D.J.'s 19 points, Ross Travis nearly pitched in a double-double with 10 points and 9 rebounds, while the same could also be said for Purdue's 7-footer A.J. Hammons (23 points and 9 boards). Raphael Davis also reached double figures scoring with 13 points himself, and guard Jon Octeus actually ended up as Purdue's leading rebounder with 11 boards.
Four Factors Analysis
Once again, PSU was hurt by offensive rebounding, giving up 12 of them to the Boilermakers. What really killed them though, was ice-cold shooting in the second half which, if I saw correctly on Twitter, put them close to 0.5 PPP (woof) for the second half. It also didn't help that Purdue had more trips to the free throws line (30) than PSU (18).
Player of the Game - D.J. Newbill
Did you REALLY expect anyone else? Here's to hoping that today wasn't his final game in a Penn State uniform.
Is It Getting Dusty In Here? No, it's actually just the countless D.J. Newbill tributes on Twitter, most notably though, this powerful photo taken of him crying after the final buzzer.
A thousand words. Incredible photos from the AP. pic.twitter.com/V78MjWXRFz— Garrett Ross (@garrett_ross) March 13, 2015
Here's Another 'Boss' Travis Highlight For You - This time, with him dunking on A.J. Hammons
RT gifdsports: Penn St''s Ross Travis nasty dunk over Purdue's AJ Hammons https://t.co/7fsWkQKMFq #vine— Tta (@_tta__) March 13, 2015
- #WhyNotUs - Kudos to the players and coaching staff for not letting a bitterly disappointing Big Ten regular season campaign spill over into the conference tournament and for putting together a rather inspirational few days in Chicago to give this program and its fans some positive vibes going into the offseason. Your move, Sandy Barbour.
Now comes the sitting and waiting part. Penn State likely appears to be CBI-bound again (should they choose to accept an invite) but there may be a sliver of hope for an NIT invite. We shall know come Sunday evening.