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Penn State 70, Purdue 78: Wait

The Nittany Lions will hope that beating Ohio State three times did the job.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Purdue vs Penn State Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Playing three games in three days tends to take a toll on a team. The issue is exacerbated when one of your best players is out with injury. That was apparent in this game, as the Nittany Lions started to show the wear and tear that had been building up over the past few days. The Boilermakers had only played once to this point, but they didn’t look any less tired themselves.

Then suddenly, something happened. It’s as if a shot of caffeine was injected into the collective veins of the team, and the Nittany Lions started making plays. Stagnating for a while down five, a flurry of threes by Shep Garner gave the jolt of energy necessary make to go on a 15-3 run that would put the Nittany Lions up seven with 3:37 left to play in the first half. The confidence in the senior’s eyes said it all. He was not ready to go home, and if it meant he had to take over the game, so be it.

Purdue wouldn’t go down quietly, as they would make their own run to finish the half up two. A technical foul assessed to Pat Chambers in the waning seconds allowed the boilers to turn a two-point deficit into a two-point lead.

The battle continued in the second half, as Purdue would go on to build a comfortable lead over the course of eight minutes, leading Penn State by nine at the under-12 media timeout. To that point, Penn State was shooting 29% from the floor, Shep Garner hadn’t taken a single shot, and Tony Carr was two of 13. It looked like the Boilers were just about ready to put the game away.

Penn State will get some needed rest over the next week and await its postseason destination. Whether it’s the NCAA Tournament or the NIT*, the Nittany Lions had a great run in New York City, and have nothing to be ashamed of.

Four Factors Analysis

There’s not much to analyze here. Purdue’s incredibly efficient game made everything else meaningless, as they shot over 60% in the second half. There was nothing the Nittany Lions could do to stop them after they got going.

Player of the Game

Shep Garner was all over the place for the Nittany Lions. He had four made threes in the first half, and was single-handedly the reason the Lions were in it.

Random Observations

Shooting - Purdue shot 66.7% in the second half, Penn State shot 30%. That was the difference.

Mike Watkins - Although Mike only played for nine minutes in the first meeting, it was clear that this was a game they could have used his services.

Making something out of nothing - I’ll never get tired of saying it, given where Penn State was in late-January, being here is an accomplishment in and of itself.

Looking Ahead

Penn State will await its tournament future, either the big tournament or the little tournament. We’ll know in a week.

*It’s likely going to be the NIT, but who knows...