Due to COVID-19 issues the Nittany Lions had not played a basketball game since December 11th when they were defeated by Michigan State in East Lansing. In their return to the court the deck appeared to be stacked again Micah Shrewsberry’s Nittany Lions, who were underdogs to a 10-2 Indiana Hoosiers squad.
To the credit of Shrewsbery, his assistant coaches, and, most of all, his players, the Nittany Lions pulled the upset on Sunday afternoon. In front of a home crowd at the Bryce Jordan Center the Nittany Lions upset Indiana 61-58.
This was the first upset of the Shrewsberry Era. Most importantly, it was the first Big Ten conference victory of Shrewsberry’s tenure as well. With the win, the Nittany Lions improve to 6-5 overall on the season and are now 1-2 in Big Ten play.
Unlike other games this season, Penn State never let this one get out of hand. Indiana took a couple of early leads in the first half, but the Lions always found a away to close back in. In large part, that was due to the job done against Trayce Jackson-Davis. Even though Jackson-Davis had 20 points, it took 18 shots to get there, as Penn State would double him immediately after he got the ball inside, which led to a lot of would be easy layups that were instead misses.
On the other side of the ball, the Nittany Lions had an outstanding showing from beyond the arc, going 11 of 22 from three, for an even 50%. Some of them, especially in the second half, looked like they were throwing up prayers, but they still went in.
Up one, and with about 15 seconds left in the game, Indiana took their final timeout to set up a play for Jackson-Davis, who missed a layup at the rim. From there, Penn State made two free throws to take a three point lead, and the rest is in the books.
Four Factors Analysis
I think a little bit of a trend is starting to develop. If Penn State holds its opponent under 50% eFG rate, they win the game. Indiana, even, with its 43.1% clip, was still able to get a point per possession. The biggest difference in the game is how many threes they made versus Penn State’s. Credit to the Lions for also holding their own on the rebound department, as John Harrar and the gang were able to out hustle Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson.
Player of the Game
Myles Dread shot four threes in this game, but most importantly, he started to showcase his versatility. For the first time in a long time, Dread didn’t just hang out at the three point line. Instead, he was driving to the lane, pump faking defenses and finding open teammates, who rewarded him by making shots on their own. When asked about his evolved game in his postgame interview, Dread indicated the this has been a point of focus this season. Great to see it pay off. Aside from the four threes, he had four rebounds, and an assist.
Tired? Who’s tired? - Penn State did not look like a team that hadn’t played in nearly a month in this game. They were aggressive, energetic, and playing the brand of defense that Micah Shrewberry wants to see.
Hammer Bros. - At some point in the broadcast, the announcers mentioned that during practice, if any player didn’t have their arms open while on defense, they would be taken out of the play and given two hammers to hold out until called upon again. That’s one way to do it!
Lead not blown - Penn State was up 10, 51 to 41, with a little over 10 minutes left in the game. A drought by the Lions allowed Indiana to close the deficit to one. Unlike all the other instances, however, Penn State responded, and would hold the lead for the rest of the game.
Next up for the Nittany Lions is a trip to Northwestern on Wednesday night. Tip off between the Nittany Lions and the 8-3 Wildcats is scheduled for 9 PM ET on Wednesday night, you can catch all of the action on the Big Ten Network.