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George Mason 85, Penn State 66: Shoddy All-Around Performance Dooms Lions


NCAA Basketball: George Mason at Penn State Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports
Throughout the last year leading up to the start of this season, there was an unprecedented sense of enthusiasm and optimism for the program, thanks to the incoming freshmen class as well as the returning starters. Lost inside that enthusiasm though, was a dose of reality in the sense that with young teams, no matter how talented, there are typically going to be growing pains.

That being said, tonight's sound beating suffered at the hands of a middling George Mason team that ranked 189th on KenPom cannot be entirely excused away by youth. A lethal cocktail of poor shooting (the Lions shot merely 36.1% from the floor, and that includes 10 for 28 from 3-point range), poor defense (Mason shot 50.8% from the floor), and getting out-rebounded 44-29 by a Mason squad whose tallest starter was merely 6'7" is an all-around collective failure on the part of the coaching staff and players. I would not want to be in the film room when this game gets dissected, as there will be plenty to make a coach want to throw objects across the room.

Mason's Marquise Moore led all scorers with 25 points, while Payton Banks led the PSU scoring assault with 21 points on 5-for-12 shooting from downtown. Shep Garner and Lamar Stevens also added 13 points, apiece for the Lions.

Four Factors Analysis

Team Possessions PPP eFG% OReb% TO% FT Rate
Penn State 75 0.88 44.3% 17.1% 17.3% 26.2%
Opponent - 1.13 54.8% 31.3% 17.3% 31.7%

Considering how well Mason shot the ball compared to how poorly PSU shot, the PPP's totally make sense, as do the efficient field goal percentages. Mason also garnered 10 offensive rebounds to PSU's seven.

Player of the Game - Payton Banks (21 points, 5-for-12 3-point shooting)

On a night where very little went right, Payton Banks was a bright spot with his superb perimeter shooting. On a night where the younger guys struggled, the veteran Banks did his best to try and fill the void.

Random Observations

  • It seemed like Mason was able to do precisely to PSU what Pat Chambers wants his PSU team to do: Play up-tempo, force turnovers, and be relentless. Mason's aggressiveness was on full display tonight.
  • I'm still baffled as to how a PSU team sporting a significant height advantage, managed to garner 15 fewer rebounds than Mason. I pictured Mike Watkins, Julian Moore, and just about anyone else remotely tall having an easier-than-usual night in the paint.
  • At this point, I'm hoping against hope that this team is not only going through the same kind of growing pains that the football team did earlier this season, but that they're able to finish as strongly as the football team did. No, that would not mean winning the B1G championship, but something like finishing firmly in the middle of the pack in the conference.

Looking Ahead

Penn State (6-4) will have to regroup very quickly as they face a stingy Pitt squad in Newark, NJ this Saturday as part of the inaugural Never Forget Classic.