First things first: nobody expected this game to be close, let alone a win for Penn State. This game was simply a small detour from their original path, which is to win the two remaining home games and put themselves in a position to earn an NIT berth.
As such, what we all expected happened. Michigan State showed they are one of the best teams in the nation. Denzel Valentine showed (again) that he's one of the best players in the nation, and that the Spartans' firepower would be too much for for the Nittany Lions to overcome. Michigan State jumped to a 19-point lead with 8:19 left in the first half, and nothing Penn State did worked. Michigan State held a double-digit lead from there.
Four Factors Analysis
While Penn State took care of the ball with only six turnovers, they were unable to stop Michigan State, unable to stop fouling, and unable to create anything for themselves offensively. Penn State's cold shooting came back to bite them on the road once more. Combine that with the disparity in rebounds and fouls, and you have your recipe for disaster. Michigan State saw plenty of second-chance opportunities that made up for their own stretches of cold shooting. Midway through the first half, Michigan State had more rebounds than Penn State had points.
Player of the Game: Shep Garner (22 points, 2 assists, 2 rebounds)
With Brandon Taylor being a non-factor in this game, it was up to Garner to create some offense. To his credit, he shot 7-18 from three and made some hustle plays down the stretch. Even in a losing effort, I'm confident in saying we got Shep Garner back.
- No quit on this team – Even when they know they're outmatched, even when they know when the game is over, they continue to fight and play like the game is tied.
- Chambers Ejection – Sometimes the fire from a coach can help a team fight through a difficult stretch --John Calipari against South Carolina comes to mind. Other times, it makes everything worse. Credit to Chambers for fighting for his team, especially since he's been fighting what he views as favorable calls for the better teams in the league. Unfortunately, this was just a show of support.
- Don't let this game kill the confidence - The team knew this game was was going to be a tough one from the start. Now they must regroup and finish strong.
- Moving the ball - The biggest difference between Penn State and Michigan State is how the Spartans move the ball. Just in the first half, Michigan State had 15 assists to Penn State's six, and this is one of the better Performances by the Lions in terms of sharing the ball.
- Garner Wept - As with all broadcasts, BTN focused on showing a prolonged shot of Garner crying as the last seconds ticked. This is a guy who is a true competitor, and even though he may have known this game would be a challenge from the start, it still hurts to see it unfold. Don't worry Shep, good times are ahead.
Penn State returns home on Thursday to face Northwestern. The Lions beat the Wildcats in their first meeting, so look for Northwestern to try to exact some revenge. Game's at 9 PM on ESPNU.