Sometimes, right before you see the light, you sit in the dark for a while, wondering whether you'll make it out or not. That's how you can describe Penn State's game against Purdue. It started mildly, with Brandon Taylor making a three early. That strategy would soon prove to be unsustainable, as Shep Garner, Payton Banks, and Davis Zemgulis would try some threes to no avail. Penn State fell into some foul trouble, as there was a point in the first half where Purdue was in the double bonus and Penn State hadn't even gotten into the bonus, but on the whole, the Nittany Lions didn't commit a million dumb fouls (only one player fouled out – Donovon Jack had five fouls in 14 otherwise outstanding minutes).
Still, there were plenty of moments where Penn State was able to keep the game close, only to see Purdue do something insane like have three offensive rebounds in one possession. In fact, the battle on the boards was what really killed Penn State – Purdue had almost as many offensive boards (14) as Penn State had defensive rebounds (20) – along with the Nittany Lions' inability to knock down threes, as the team went a paltry 5-for-19 from downtown. Ultimately, this game was exactly what we thought it was going to be – a team that is big and strong imposing its will on a team that matches up horribly against it.
Four Factors Analysis
Yes, it was that ugly. Purdue owned the glass, which was something we all should have expected heading into the game. Penn State did itself no favors with some really mind-boggling missed opportunities in the paint offensively and on the glass defensively. But for the most part, it went exactly as we expected it to go.
Player of the Game - Donovon Jack: 12 pts; 4 rbds
Yes folks, Penn State's "best" player in this game was Donovon Jack, by virtue of 1) making a pair of three pointers and 2) spelling Brandon Taylor for stretches due to foul trouble. You could very easily make a case for Taylor, as he went off for 21 points, but Jack played well, so let's give him the nod.
- The allure of Jordan Dickerson – Dickerson has more blocks than field goals this season. That is the definition of a defensive player.
- Penn State Defense™ works better at home – For all its faults, Penn State played acceptable defense in that it wasn't a total tire fire. However, the ultra-aggressive defense that has become the staple of Pat Chambers' teams needs to be toned down on the road or else we get the usual array of questionable calls, which could lead to an important player like Taylor heading to the bench due to foul trouble.
- Devin Foster hit a three - Sound the alarm! Devin Foster hit a shot from, well, farther than right at the bucket!
- I believe in Julian Moore. - To the naked, untrained eye, he would have been a guy struggling on the floor. Not to me. Per usual, Moore showed that he has some game. It is going to take some work to have it go from "occasional moment of brilliance" to "consistently really good" but still.
Penn State's stretch of remarkably difficult games continues against Northwestern on Saturday night. The good news is this would be a huge win for the Nittany Lions. The bad news is the Wildcats are really good. The game tips at 8:30 p.m. EST on ESPNU.