Ohio State. Iowa. Michigan State. Indiana. Michigan. What do all these teams have in common? At some point in their respective seasons, they were ranked, highly, even, and they had the misfortune of playing Penn State at just the right time. Every year since the 2012-13 season, the Nittany Lions have managed to knock off at least one top team in the conference. It was these same Michigan Wolverines that started it all, back when your Nittany Lions were on a 14-game Big Ten losing streak. Ever since then, each top team has had that sinking fear of being next in Penn State’s hit list.
The game couldn’t have gone any better for Penn State. The first half saw Lamar Stevens do just about anything he wanted on offense, and a team in Michigan that rarely turns the ball over coughed it up six times in the first 20 minutes. To make matters worse, the Wolverines shot the ball at a 25% clip from beyond the arc. Penn State’s methodical approach to the game ensured they took a 13-point lead into the half.
Oh yeah, about the half: John Beilein got two technicals in the span of 10 seconds to earn the Nittany Lions four free throws to start the second half. Suddenly, a 13-point lead became a 16-point lead before the second half even started, and the Wolverines were playing catchup mode for all of the second half, without their head coach on the sidelines.
This wouldn’t be a 2019 game without the Lions making it way harder than it needs to be, though. Their patented scoring drought allowed Michigan to cut the lead all the way down to four points, and suddenly a game that looked surely in control before it even started became incredibly painful to watch. Nevertheless, they persisted.
If you didn’t already know this is Penn State’s MO, you’d think Vegas put a hit on Michigan in this game.
Four Factors Analysis
The free throw disparity, of course, looks a little lopsided due to the end of the game, but Penn State certainly earned their keep at the line in this game. The Wolverines shot the ball better overall, but Penn State simply made baskets when it counted, even after their patented scoring drought. Last, but not least, Michigan hadn’t turned the ball over at this rate in almost a month.
Players Of The Game
Myles Dread and Lamar Stevens provided 43 of Penn State’s 75 points, and boy did the Nittany Lions need them. Jon Teske simply couldn’t keep track of Stevens, who played most of the game at the 5. Dread saw the first three go in, and had four more go for good measure.
Beilein did what? - Normally mild-mannered, John Beilein lost it at the end of the first half, and his strategy worked. Second-half officiating was decidedly “even” on the side of Michigan.
Small Ball Works - Penn State played small ball for most of the game against the Wolverines, and it worked almost to perfection, until the second half when Michigan kind of figured out the lineup and clamped down on defense.
Upset out of the way - With the annual upset of a top Big Ten team out of the way, we can now go back to our regularly scheduled programming.
What did you expect? - Life comes full circle. The team that started the “upset special” series will likely be the last team to fall victim to such series.
Myles Dread led the cheers following the game as the team shared the experience with the crowd that stormed the court.
Penn State travels to West Lafayette to take on the Purdue Boilermakers in the second game of the series. Hopefully the second one is just like the first one, down to the road team winning. Game’s at 4 PM Eastern on BTN on Saturday.