Vegas, Kenpom, Torvik, just about anyone with any skin in the game expected Penn State to win this contest. Every single outlet, however, expected it to be closely contested, as the four-point closing line showcased. And, if the game ended three quarters of the way into the first half, they would have all been correct.
Alas, a game is 40 minutes long, and for the majority of that time, the Nittany Lions were putting on a clinic against a Wolverine team that couldn’t seem to get anything going outside ofJett Howard for long stretches of the game. In face, Penn State did both of its patented “slow the game down” and “go on an extended drought” in the second half, and all it did was shrink what was at one point a 32-point lead back down to the 22-point deficit it would become.
Jalen Pickett and the aforementioned Howard were almost the entire offense in the first half, one that saw Michigan keep enough pace with Penn State to be within striking distance. Halfway through the half, they stayed within five to seven points of the Lions. By the five minute mark, 4:30 mark, they came the closest the would come, a 30-31 deficit on the back of Howards, three point performance. Howard would go on to make five threes (of seven shots) in the game, by far the best scorer for Michigan, and the only person to go for double figures. The next highest was Kobe Bufkin, with eight.
After Michigan came close to taking the lead away, the Nittany Lions exploded. As the four-minute mark approached, the Lions went on an 18-2 run to close out the half, and kept it going in the second. By the time Michigan knew what hit them, the Lions had already gone on a 29-4 run that just about sealed the game, the rest of the contest being the formality described above, full of “game drought” and “slowing the pace,” and all.
Player of the Game
Jalen Pickett - 25 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals
Picket was phenomenal in this game. Being the near triple double machine that he is, the was trouble from everywhere on the floor, and once the Wolverines started closing in on him, he started dishing out in the way only he knows.
Seth Lundy - 22 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block
Lundy had a vintage game in him, being the relentless defender that he normally is, while also scoring nearly at will from the field.
Andrew Funk - 19 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal
Andrew Funk was his normal Andrew Funk self, going 4-of-9 from beyond the arc (like Lundy), shaking off his questionable performance against Rutgers on Tuesday.
What does it mean? - The start of the Penn State run to end all runs came with 4:09 in the first half. Makes you think.
I see you, Mikey! - Michael Henn had by far his most productive performance as a Nittany Lions, both on the offensive end with 10 points, but on the defensive end, by not allowing Hunter Dickinson to do anything once the ball got to him. In fact, he did so well out there that he ended up playing 24 minutes!
Look at that flow! - Funny what happens when the refs swallow their whistles for both teams.
It begins - Last time, I pointed out that five of Penn State’s seven double plays started on the road. Of all those series, only Maryland is yet to be played. Purdue and Nebraska, the only two series to start at home, are respectively Penn State’s next two opponents.
The road is unforgiving in Big Ten play, and Penn State gets to celebrate this win by doing a return visit to the No. 1 team in the Big Ten and country in the Purdue Boilermakers. If the Lions can find their shot, they might avoid a worse fate than the debacle at the Palestra. Game is Wednesday, February 1st on the Big Ten Network. Tipoff is at 6:30 PM Eastern.