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Michigan State 71, Penn State 56: The Road To 0-6 Is Once Again Complete

To nobody’s surprise, Michigan State handled the Nittany Lions without much trouble.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Penn State Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

When it was initially announced that Penn State’s home contest against Michigan State would be a Sunday afternoon slot on CBS, some of us amongst the PSU hoops faithful were excited at the prospect of a Nittany Lion team that was expected to be competing for an NCAA Tournament bid once again, trying to get a signature win at home on national TV.

By the time this game rolled around though, Penn State was sporting a nice 7-9 overall and 0-5 Big Ten record en route to a season that is likely to end with no postseason bid (and quite possibly, a head coaching search). The fan expectations for this game simply boiled down to hoping for a competitive game and while it seemed for a brief moment, that the fans might get their wish, with PSU and Sparty tied at 10 five minutes in, Sparty would go on a quick 10-0 run to push their lead into double figures, which they would not relinquish the rest of the game. Poor shooting and getting trounced on the boards were absolute killers in this one for PSU, as Mike Watkins and Lamar Stevens could only do so much on their own as the team’s only double-digit scorers.

As a result of this loss, Penn State is now 0-6 in Big Ten play, their fourth 0-6 start in Pat Chambers’ eight seasons in Happy Valley. Mercifully, there’s only another eight weeks left of this crap-fest left.

Four Factors Analysis

Rebounding was a major problem for PSU, as Sparty outdid them on that end, 41-28. The Lions also struggled from the floor, shooting a paltry 37% while Sparty shot 49%, hence the disparity in PPP and efficient FG% numbers. Surprisingly though, PSU forced more turnovers than Sparty, who turned it over 17 times to PSU’s 13 (really, one of the only positives from today’s game).

Player Of The Game

Lamar led the way scoring-wise with 20 points and also added six boards. Josh Reaves was also a bright spot on an otherwise rough day, as he was Mr. Do-Everything, even garnering more blocks than Mike Watkins (who only had one block to go with his 11 points and seven rebounds). I probably feel the worst for Josh, as he is a senior and deserves a far better send-off than this.

Random Observations

  • Well, it sure is nice to see that this team is coached up to play multiple defenses in the same possession!
  • Penn State will be underdogs in their next two contests against Iowa and Minnesota before they face fellow basement-dweller Rutgers on January 26th. If they’re unable to beat the Scarlet Knights at the BJC on that date, then who knows how long this losing skid will extend...
  • Okay, I’ll try and end these observations on a slightly more positive note: Today was the 5th annual “Team Ream” game. Team Ream is an organization founded by the family of the late Brandon Ream, a former Penn State football player and State College native who passed away from cancer in 2013. Team Ream helps assist low-income families in Central Pennsylvania who are dealing with serious illnesses, and is truly a wonderful cause. To learn more, visit Team Ream’s website.

Up Next

Penn State (7-10, 0-6) hosts Iowa (14-3, 3-3) this coming Wednesday at the BJC. Tip-off is at 7:00 PM ET on BTN but if you have anything more productive to do with your life, I strongly suggest doing that, instead.