It was an up-and-down season for the Penn State basketball team. Today’s game was mostly down.
With 13:10 remaining in the first half Pat Chambers was forced to call a timeout in an attempt to halt an MSU 11-0 run that had the Lions trailing 14-5. On the next possession Tony Carr took the ball all the way to the hoop, getting fouled, and hit a free throw to stop the flurry.
The move paid off for a few minutes until MSU went on another run, this time good for ten straight. Chambers called another timeout just before the under-8 official’s break, trailing 28-13.
The lead got as large as 17 before PSU made an 8-0 run of its own, forcing Tom Izzo to stop the clock to talk it over with his team, leading 36-27 with 3:07 left before the break. MSU followed with offensive rebound put-backs on two consecutive trips to end the PSU run, and added a three-pointer the next time down the floor to get the lead back to 16 in less than a minute of game time. MSU carried a comfortable 45-27 lead heading into the second half.
Michigan State came out of the locker room as would be expected for a tournament-bound team led by a Hall of Fame coach. It stretched the lead to 23 points six minutes into the half. With 6 minutes left in the game, the Spartans were up 27 and everything but the final score was settled.
Tony Carr and Lamar Stevens were each handed technical fouls with 13.7 seconds left in the game, but tempers settled quickly and the young players regained their composure on the sideline.
Penn State was not very efficient on offense. The Lions were able to get to the free-throw line with regularity, taking 19 attempts. MSU had 18 attempts but that was aided by a very late pair of technical fouls. The Spartans shot 10 for 22 from beyond the arc and the Lions made only 4 of 15 attempts. The stats were heavily influenced by the amount of enthusiasm displayed by each team. Penn State didn’t seem to have the energy it needed to make a run at winning the game.
Player of the Game
Lamar Stevens- (16 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 34 minutes played) It seems to be very easy for Stevens to score in double digits when he can get into the flow of the game early and stay out of foul trouble. Today was no different. He played a great deal of minutes and provided an offensive spark that will come in handy next season, scoring eleven-consecutive points during a stretch of the second-half.
- Penn State took several low-percentage shots as Michigan State extended its first scoring streak. Chambers called timeout and PSU got three consecutive high-percentage shots from Carr, Watkins, and again Carr. Lamar Stevens passed the ball to Carr who was on the post on the third possession. It is nice to see the young players able to settle down and understand what the coach is telling them, and to have the discipline to execute it. It bodes well for next season when the team will again be anchored by underclassmen, but will no longer be considered inexperienced.
- Lamar Stevens is fun to watch. His game is so unique and complete that it’s going to be hard for him to make a noticeable improvement between now and next season. He is not likely to add a new category to his skill set, but he can become more efficient. His ball-handling, passing, low-post defense and three-point shooting can all improve, but he is lacking next to nothing even at this point.
- Tony Carr is in a similar position as Stevens. There is very little that Carr is unable to do on the court. He needs to continue to fine-tune his skills, such as his three-point shot and bringing consistent intensity. His ability to get quality shots with drives in the lane and to post-up smaller guards will be an asset for the next few years.
- Mike Watkins got much-needed experience and has already become one of the most fierce low-post defenders in the country. His raw talent is evident but he should return next season with a few more tools in his arsenal on the offensive side.
A long off-season with zero coaching controversies. Pat Chambers will be back next season. The team will be populated by roughly the same players, with the addition of seven-footer Satchel Pierce to help out with low-post defense. Nazeer Bostick will likely see more minutes than he did this season, which will increase the athleticism and depth of the team. Spring, summer, and half of fall stands between PSU basketball fans and next season. It should be one of the more-anticipated teams in recent history for the Nittany Lions, one with the depth and talent to make a run into the NCAA tournament.