After an 18-day hiatus due to a COVID-19 outbreak that halted team activities, Penn State hoops finally saw their first taste of action in 2021 with a trip to West Lafayette, Indiana to take on Purdue team riding high off a two-game win streak that included an incredible comeback at Michigan State, followed by a double-digit beating of their arch-rival Indiana.
The game started out as a back-and-forth affair, with both teams coming out aggressive, particularly on the offensive glass. Despite this however, the game resembled a classic Big Ten defensive slugfest that you would see on the football field, with the only thing missing of course, being all of the punts. Both teams shot around or under 30 percent for most of the half, and misfired on their first 22 combined attempts from three-point range, with Myreon Jones finally breaking the drought late in the half.
Purdue led 18-11 with a little over eight minutes to play in the half when their leading scorer Trevion Williams went to the bench having picked up his second foul. PSU took advantage of Williams’ absence and pounced, outscoring the Boilers 21-15 for the remainder of the half. What should have been a two-point halftime lead for PSU however, was ruined by a buzzer-beating trey by Purdue’s Mason Gillis.
Gillis’ buzzer-beater unfortunately, was a harbinger of things to come in the second half, as Purdue scored the first seven points of the half to take a quick 40-32 lead as Jim Ferry called timeout. Ferry would later get whistled for a technical foul for arguing with the referees, as things continued to go from bad to worse, with the Boilers catching fire from the floor. It was enough to build Purdue’s lead as high as 17 points during the second half.
PSU would do their best to keep things from getting out of control, whittling the deficit down to as low as four points in the final couple of minutes, thanks to a combination of Jones, Izaiah Brockington, and John Harrar picking up the scoring load (all three finished with double figures in scoring). Unfortunately, it was too little, too late. Penn State will have to wait at least another couple of days before they get another crack at breaking into the win column in Big Ten play.
Penn State crushed it on the offensive boards, with 23 of them. They also only turned the ball over seven times while forcing 12 on Purdue. Unfortunately for the Lions, poor shooting (33 percent overall compared to 40 percent for Purdue) and Purdue’s 33 trips to the free throw line as opposed to PSU’s 13, were too much to overcome.
Players of the Game - Myreon Jones (23 points, 5-for-12 3 PT FG) and John Harrar (14 points, 14 rebounds)
Myreon’s shooting, particularly from downtown, gave the Lions a sliver of hope at the end of the game. John Harrar was a beast throughout the game, earning his first double-double since last March when he racked up 12 points and 14 boards in a loss to Northwestern.
- Beilein’s Magic Touch - John Beilein made his debut as a color analyst for BTN’s broadcast of this game, and he sounded like a natural and breaking down the nuances of the game and what the coaches and players were likely thinking. Here’s to hoping he becomes a mainstay for the network’s hoops broadcasts.
- No Quit In These Guys - As hopeless as things may have looked throughout the second half, PSU kept pressing in the game’s final minutes. They forced a couple of turnovers with their press in the final minute-and-a-half, but misfired on their shots that really would’ve made things interesting. One of these games, this effort will have to pay off with a win.
Penn State (3-5, 0-4) will travel to 14th-ranked Illinois on Tuesday for their rubber match with an Illinois team that beat them in the first outing in State College. Tipoff will be at 8:30 PM ET on BTN.