Fresh off a Thanksgiving week trip to Florida where they impressively took LSU to overtime and waxed Oregon State to get a split in the Emerald Coast Classic, the hoops squad returned to the friendly confines of the Bryce Jordan Center to host the Miami Hurricanes as part of the annual Big Ten-ACC Challenge.
The typically poor-shooting ‘Canes started out lighting it up from three-point range, with their big man Sam Waardenburg knocking down his first three attempts from downtown. PSU would keep it close and even lead at times, thanks to five different Nittany Lions putting up points, as well as strong rebounding and Miami reverting back to the mean, shooting-wise (at one point during the first half, the ‘Canes were shooting under 30 percent from the floor).
Unfortunately, PSU was unable to take advantage of the strong defensive effort and increase their lead, as the team hit a five-minute scoring drought late in the half, and continually turned it over as a result of struggling to break Miami’s half-court trap defense. By the end of the half, the Nittany Lions had committed a whopping ten turnovers and trailed 29-23, despite holding Miami to just 34 percent shooting.
The second half saw the ‘Canes jump out to a 38-30 lead early on, but PSU would go on a 15-2 to take their largest lead of the night at 45-40, thanks to John Harrar picking up some serious scoring slack. Miami would quickly erase that lead however and reclaim the lead, thanks to a healthy dose of Kam McGusty, Charlie Moore, and Isaiah Wong. The ‘Canes would lead by as many as seven, before PSU got the deficit all the way down to two at 60-58 with just 1:31 remaining. McGusty misfired on Miami’s subsequent possession, but PSU failed to corral the rebound, and McGusty did not miss on his second attempt for what ended up being the dagger.
Once again, turnovers doomed Penn State in this one. The Lions had nearly twice as many turnovers (14) as the ‘Canes (8), and in a game where PSU played pretty well defensively for most of it, doing a better job of breaking Miami’s half-court trap would have likely resulted in a win. Unfortunately, it’s become a recurring theme for the team and is something Micah Shrewsberry and staff will have to address quickly before Ohio State comes to town this weekend.
Players of the Game - John Harrar (16 points, 12 rebounds), Seth Lundy (14 points, 8 rebounds)
Harrar was a bright spot offensively tonight, as once he got the ball in the paint, it was either ending with a layup/dunk, or him going to the free throw line. He also did a solid job crashing the boards, which led to him racking up another double-double and leading PSU in scoring. Seth Lundy was the only other Nittany Lions to reach double figures in scoring and nearly had a double-double himself, although his three-point shooting left a little more to be desired, nailing only two of his nine attempts from downtown.
- Hope You Had Your iPad Handy The game was originally slated to air on ESPNU. However, the game before it that was airing on ESPNU between Nebraska and NC State ended up going to four overtimes, which rendered the game having to be watched on the ESPN App. It wasn’t until around the 12-minute mark of the second half that ESPNU was able to switch over to the action at the BJC.
- 2000’s Night ??? First of all, the fact that the BJC was having a 2000’s night was enough to make me, a person who graduated from PSU in the 2000’s, feel old. Surely, there must have been plenty of Kanye West, 50 Cent, and pop-punk blaring from the speakers during timeouts.
- Familiar Foes - Assistant coach Adam Fisher was sitting on the opposite sideline from the team that he previously coached at for eight years before his alma mater came calling him home. I can only imagine the feeling of watching some of the guys you had previously recruited and coached at your old school come up with the big plays to beat your current team...
Penn State opens Big Ten play this coming Sunday, Sunday, Sunday when they host Ohio State. Tipoff will be a 7:30 PM ET on BTN.