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Northwestern 71, Penn State 61: Wildcats Spoil Senior Night At The Jordan Center

Cold shooting streaks and a generally poor defensive performance spelled doom for the good guys in this one.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

A golden opportunity awaited Penn State tonight: Beat Northwestern on senior night and virtually guarantee themselves an opening round bye for next week's Big Ten Tournament. Of course, this is Penn State basketball we're talking about, so naturally they did the exact opposite, allowing Northwestern's Tre Demps, Bryant McIntosh, and Aaron Falzon to do their best Steph Curry impressions, the three of them combining for 8-of-16 shooting from 3-point range, and Demps leading all scorers with 23 points.

Offensively, PSU looked rather disjointed, throwing sloppy passes that resulted in turnovers and in general, failing to put the ball into the net when they were actually able to get a shot off (PSU saw themselves go nine minutes in between field goals at one point). The good guys did begin to find some offensive rhythm midway through the second half, whittling down what was once a 20-point deficit to as little as five points. Thanks to a few more sloppy turnovers and Northwestern regaining their shooting touch though, the Wildcats were able to get their lead back up to double digits for good. Brandon Taylor led PSU scoring-wise with 17 points, while Shep Garner (13) and Josh Reaves (11) also hit double figures.

Four Factors Analysis

Team Possessions PPP eFG% OReb% TO% FT Rate
Penn State 64 0.95 49.0% 27.6% 20.3% 23.1%
Northwestern - 1.11 56.7% 17.9% 15.7% 32.7%

Northwestern shot the lights out early and while they hit a rough patch midway through the second half, shot a pretty solid 48% from the floor overall. The offensive rebounding numbers being heavily in PSU's favor could best be explained by poor shooting for most of the night and having opportunities for second-chance points. Looking at these stats overall, it's no surprise at all that Northwestern was victorious and by a double-digit margin.

Player of the Game - Shep Garner (13 points, 7 assists)

Shep may not have been the team's leading scorer, and he was responsible for four of PSU's 13 turnovers, but he did nail a pair of threes and was doling out assists when PSU had its moments in the second half where they were actually scoring points.

Random Observations

  • Beat Illinois
  • Beat Illinois
  • Beat Illinois

Looking Ahead

Illinois comes to the BJC this Sunday at high noon. There's a reason why I over-emphasized beating Illinois in the Random Observations section: With Nebraska also sitting at 6-11 in conference play and with a worse overall record than PSU (14-16 to PSU's 15-15), a win over the Illini this Sunday guarantees that PSU avoids the opening day of the Big Ten Tournament. Additionally, a win would also guarantee back-to-back non-losing seasons for the first time since 2001.