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Tale of Two Halves: No. 1 Purdue Dominates Second Half as Nittany Lions Fall in Upset Bid

The Nittany Lions held a 6 point lead over no. 1 Purdue at halftime at The Palestra, but a dominant second half from Purdue ended the upset bid

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Penn State Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

In front of an absolutely electric crowd at The Palestra, the Penn State Nittany Lions played host to the no. 1 Purdue Boilermakers on Sunday evening. A crowd that was in an absolute frenzy in the first half unfortunately fizzled out in the second half as the Nittany Lions played their worst half of basketball this season on their way to a 76-63 loss.

The Nittany Lions got off to a rocky start on Sunday evening. While Penn State got some good early looks from three-point range, the Nittany Lions started just 1/5 form behind the arch. Additionally, the Boilermakers were outscoring Penn State 8-0 in the paint early on.

While issues with Purdue in the paint was a problem throughout the game the Nittany Lions did start to heat up from three-point range. Penn State would hit 5 of their final 7 three-point attempts of the first half. This contributed to the Nittany Lions outscoring the Boilermakers 34-22, after failing behind 9-3 early in the game, on their way to a 37-31 halftime lead.

Unsurprisingly, Jalen Pickett was the man who sparked Penn State’s offense in the first half. Pickett was 3/3 from three-point land in the first half, scoring 18 points to go with 5 rebounds and 4 assists.

Unfortunately, Penn State could not carry their first half momentum over into the second half. The Boilermakers started the second half on a 12-0 run and just simply never looked back on their way to outscoring Penn State 45-26 on the second half.

A second half that saw Penn State shoot poorly, be sloppy with the basketball, commit to man fouls, and play poor defense, led to the Boilermakers running away with the game. To Purdue’s credit they also took Pickett out of the game in the second half. Pickett finished with 26 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists, but was not nearly as effective in the second half.

Penn State’s biggest concern entering the game was how they would defend Purdue big man Zach Edey. Well, this would prove to be a major challenge for the Nittany Lions throughout the night.

Edey was flat out dominant. He set the tone for the Boilermakers and was a force both offensively and defensively. Edey showed why he is one of the best players in the country on Sunday evening.

Player(s) of the Game

Zach Edey - 30 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks

It’s not uncommon when Purdue plays basketball, but Edey was the best player on the floor and it wasn’t close. The Boilermaker big man was dominant for the entire game and the Nittany Lions never had an answer.

Random Observations

Worst half of basketball of the season - Sunday evening’s second half was the worst half of basketball Penn State has played all season. The Nittany Lions were sloppy on offense, undisciplined on defense, shot poorly, turned the ball over, everything could go wrong did. It doesn’t help that they played that half against arguably the best team in the country.

More Evan Mahaffey, please - When Evan Mahaffey is on the court he seems to provide a spark and some energy for the Nittany Lions. While he had some foul issues, he was 4/6 from the field and also played a strong defensive game which included 3 steals.

Up Next

Penn State returns to action on Wednesday night when they welcome no. 15 Indiana to the Bryce Jordan Center. First tip between the Nittany Lions and Hoosiers is scheduled for 7:00 PM ET.