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Michigan 72, Penn State 69: Lions Squander 14-point Second Half Lead to the Wolverines

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PSU’s final point tally may have been #nice, but the way they blew a significant lead on the road sure wasn’t.

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

It was your stereotypical Penn State basketball performance. On the road against a respectable Michigan team, the Nittany Lions played with a level of confidence and execution rarely seen during the course of the season, holding a steady lead throughout most of the night, and leading by as many as 14 points with a little over 12 minutes to play in the second half.

Then of course, it all predictably came unraveled, as the Wolverines, thanks to some cold shooting from PSU and a slew of turnovers, rallied over the next nine minutes to take the lead. Josh Reaves and Shep Garner nailed a pair of threes in the final minute to give PSU fans a glimmer of hope but ultimately, the Nittany Lions once again fell short, 72-69. Same old song and dance.

Four Factors

Team Total Possessions PPP eFG% OReb% TO% FT Rate
Team Total Possessions PPP eFG% OReb% TO% FT Rate
Penn State 71 1.07 50.0% 35.5% 19.7% 47.3%
Nebraska - 0.94 39.5% 34.0% 11.3% 13.2%

Despite shooting 48% from the floor and out-rebounding the Wolverines 38-25, PSU lost this game in large due to losing the turnover battle by a significant 14-5 margin. When two teams’ efficient field goal percentage differences are negligible, then turnovers truly make the difference in a game like this.

Player of the Game - Lamar Stevens (16 points, 9 rebounds)

Lamar had arguably his best performance in Big Ten play, thus far and also did so in a tough road environment at Crisler Arena by nearly recording a double-double before fouling out late in the game. His aggressiveness and fearless however, did pay dividends on the stat sheet and (for a while at least) on the scoreboard. Turnovers were a problem for him however, as he had five of them, but that is something that he can hopefully correct as he continues to become acclimated to the rigors of Big Ten basketball.

Random Observations

  1. Just like football. - I’m talking strictly in the sense that with the Rose Bowl heartbreaker still fresh on my mind, tonight’s contest was too eerily reminiscent of what happened to the football team just a couple short days ago. A double gut-punch, if you will. An upset of Michigan State this weekend could go a ways towards erasing this sick feeling.
  2. Payton Banks’ middle name is actually Mutombo - When a guy who is better known for his perimeter shooting than interior defense comes up with a blocked shot, you take notice. That’s precisely what occurred with Payton Banks, as he stuffed a layup attempt by Michigan’s Moritz Wagner, causing at least a couple of #PSUTwitter folks to lose their minds.

3. More like Josh Threaves - Josh Reaves is best known for his defensive tenacity and outright athleticism as opposed to being a shooter. That didn’t stop Mr. Reaves however, from nailing two of his three attempts from the perimeter, en route to scoring 11 points on the night. Don’t expect such a scoring output to be a recurring theme, though.

4. TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES: PLEASE STAND BY - Did anyone else get a kick out of the fact that half the broadcast sounded like it resembled a local access channel covering a high school basketball game, thanks to malfunctioning mics?

Up Next

The Nittany Lions (9-7, 1-2) will host Michigan State at the historic Palestra in downtown Philadelphia this Saturday. Hopefully, the hoops gods will smile upon such a decision to move a home game from the cavernous BJC [fingers crossed]. Tip-off is at 1:00 PM ET on ESPN.