With several days to rest up after the conclusion of a successful Charleston Classic showing, the Shrews Crew returned to the friendly confines of the Bryce Jordan Center for a Black Friday showdown with a 1-5 Lafayette squad that on paper, posed very little threat to this Penn State team. These types of games however, have proven to be problematic all across college basketball for favorites who show up not taking the opponent seriously enough.
For the first several minutes of the game, it seemed like Penn State might be in for a tougher-than-expected evening. Thanks to some poor rebounding and lackadaisical defense, the Leopards found themselves ahead 19-12 w/12 minutes to go in the half before Micah Shrewsberry called a timeout to light into his team.
Whatever Shrews said in that timeout huddle though, it clicked with the players, as the defensive effort significantly improved and combined with some solid three-point shooting (PSU nailed eight treys in the first half), the Lions outscored Lafayette 30-13 the remainder of the half, taking a ten-point lead into the locker room. The second half saw the Lions pick up where they left off, continuing their hot shooting and sound defense (though the rebounding remained a work in progress), pushing their lead to as high as 26 points and being able to dig deep into their bench, as a result. It started out shaky, but PSU took care of business when it was all said and done.
Four Factors Analysis
As you can see from these Four Factors, Penn State shot the ball quite efficiently, but got killed on the offensive glass (16 of the Leopards’ 40 total rebounds came on the offensive end, leading to numerous second chance points). PSU was also outdone when it came to trips to the free throw line, as Lafayette got to the line 18 times compared to only six for PSU. Granted, the Leopards failed to take full advantage, only converting on 12 of their 18 attempts, while PSU hit on five of their six attempts. The lack of a solid post presence continues to rear its ugly head but for now is being negated by solid perimeter shooting.
Players of the Game
Jalen Pickett - 18 ponts, 8 assists, 6 rebounds
Seth Lundy - 15 points (3-for-6 3 PT FG), 7 rebounds, 2 blocks
Pickett and Lundy were once again PSU’s dynamic scoring duo, as the two veterans have really taken the leadership reins and come up with some big shots to end scoring droughts or to quash the opposing team’s scoring run. With the competition soon to get much tougher, it’s important that these two continue to bring their A-games.
- Another Three-Point Shooting Night at the Office - PSU nailed 11 of their 27 three-point attempts, good enough for 40 percent from beyond the arc. I don’t know about you, but I am used to this as the team’s identity now and frankly, I kind of like it!
- Unfortunately, Another Rebounding Night at the Office, Too - I don’t know what more can be said about the rebounding struggles, it’s pretty clear that Big Ten teams with quality big men are going to abuse PSU down low with offensive rebounds and second-chance opportunities when given the chance. It will be interesting to see how Shrews attempts to mitigate this issue going forward.
- Digging Deep Into The Bench - Given how the Lions were blasting the Leopards in the second half, Jalen Pickett was able to rest most of the second half and only played a total of 28 minutes. The five freshmen (yes, ALL five freshmen including Demetrius Lilley, who made his collegiate debut tonight) saw plenty of action, as Kanye Clary and Evan Mahaffey especially looked pretty good off the bench, and Dallion Johnson and Myles Dread added some perimteter shooting. Lilley committed a Flagrant 1 Foul almost immediately after getting into the game, but I can cut him some slack since he’s got plenty of rust to shake off.
- Yuge Three-Game Stretch Coming Up - With games at Clemson, followed by their first two Big Ten contests against Michigan State and at Illinois on the docket, we will find out a lot more of just where this team stands in the greater college hoops universe. Buckle up folks, because it’s bound to be a heck of a ride!
Penn State (6-1) travels to Clemson this upcoming Tuesday as part of the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. Tipoff will be at 7:00 PM EST on ESPNU.