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Penn State 78, Northwestern 63: Nittany Lions Showed Potential

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Penn State took the lead, and never gave it up.

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Penn State Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State was on a two-game losing streak against media-, fan-, everyone-darling Chris Collins, and this game was a chance to tilt the tide back to the Nittany Lions. With the possibility of Bryant McIntosh not playing in this game, Northwestern found itself in desperation mode as their NCAA tournament hopes evaporated by the minute. This game would go a long way in deciding which of these two teams still had a faint chance at making the Big Dance come March.

Penn State opened up a lead early, and it would balloon as high as 16 points in the first half. But Northwestern wouldn’t give up that easily. They would shrink the lead as close as three before Penn State realized they were the better team and blew the game wide open again. It stayed that way for the rest of it.

At 2-2, Penn State is back in the top half of the conference and has some breathing room moving forward. It would be in their best interest to keep the sense of urgency they played with in this game the rest of the way, as an NCAA tournament is still in the cards if they’re able to continue to play like they did tonight.

Four Factors Analysis

PPP and Four Factors

Team Total Possessions PPP eFG% OReb% TO% FT Rate
Team Total Possessions PPP eFG% OReb% TO% FT Rate
Penn State 70 1.12 57.3 41.4 22.9 41.8
Maryland 0.90 46 26.3 21.5 9.7

Yeah, this was a domination. Northwestern’s saving grace was its much better three-point shooting and its slightly better turnover rate (a 15 to 16 advantage). It was otherwise all Penn State, and it was possible by the Nittany Lions committing to the paint and forcing the Wildcats to defend them inside. That did not work out so well for Northwestern.

Players of the Game

Lamar Stevens had a monster game, and he has quietly been putting up numbers in the past few outings. He and Mike Watkins made life miserable for Northwestern inside, and if they keep this up they’ll make life miserable for a few other teams too.

Random Obervations

I like this Lamar - Whatever happened to Lamar from Monday to now, keep it going. He had a career game, and Penn State will need more of it to compete in the Big Ten.

McIntosh was good - Bryant McIntosh was questionable for this game, and ended up playing. He actually performed pretty well. It was the rest of his team that left a lot to be desired.

Julian Moore is usable now - Moore is no Mike Watkins, but simply being able to hold the fort while Watkins takes a breather is so important that it doesn’t matter how many points Moore actually scores. It’s great to see.

The foul tides turned - It was the Nittany Lions who went to the line at a much higher rate than its opponent. They had 23 free-throw attempts to Northwestern’s six.

Looking Ahead

Penn State is back on the road on Tuesday to take on the Indiana Hoosiers at Assembly Hall. Game is at 6:30 PM on BTN.