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No. 1 Purdue 80, Penn State 60: Lions Go Down Swinging

The Nittany Lions would have needed a miracle to win this one, but they fought to the bitter end.

Penn State Nittany Lions head coach Micah Shrewsberry yells down court during the NCAA men s basketball game against the Purdue Boilermakers, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Indiana. Alex Martin/Journal and Courier / USA TODAY NETWORK

A road game against the No. 1 team in the country is no easy task for any team. For Penn State, this is by far the toughest game they’ve had in the Micah Shrewsberry era, as the Purdue Boilermakers became the first unanimous number one team in the country in the AP poll this season. Their lone loss, a last-second stunner at the hands of Rutgers, is the only blemish of the season for the Boilers. It goes without saying, then, that a win against this team in their home court would be the biggest upset since the Lions beat then-No. 4 Michigan back in 2013.

The Nittany Lions started the game pretty strong on the back of Michael Henn’s continued quality play. He had three quick three-pointers to start the game, helping Penn State get an early lead. Like the No. 1 team they are, however, Purdue quickly took over. The Boilers would spend a good chunk of the half building what would become a 12-point lead, as the Lions went ice cold from the field following the first few shots.

As the half closed, hover, the Lions found some offensive competency, and closed the deficit from 12 to six. The Lions held Zach Edey in check for the most part, but in response Mason Gillis took off. He scored 12 point on 4-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc, leading all scorers in the half. Henn’s 11 were second.

If you saw the first game, the second half of this one will look pretty familiar to you. Purdue started the second half red hot, and a 21-4 run all but sealed the game, exactly how the Boilermakers were able to put the first one away off a 23-7 run that time. Mason Gillis ended up breaking the three-point made record at Mackey Arena along the way with nine, and, when it was all said and done, Purdue came away with the 20-point victory.

Credit Penn State for giving it everything they got. They did a tremendous job on Edey in this one, but when two players who weren’t even in the scouting report go off from beyond the arc, well, there are several opponents who have felt the way the Nittany Lions did in this one. Purdue simply did to Penn State what Penn State does to everyone else.

Player of the Game

Seth Lundy - 18 points, 6 rebounds

For a second there, it looked like it would be Henn taking this spot, but Lundy picked up from where Henn left off, and effectively carried the Lions in the second half. Jalen Pickett was not his usual self tonight, scoring only 12 points, but did add seven assists to the stat line.

Random Observations

Mini-epiphany - Both from a turnover and fouls perspective, this game was played relatively cleanly. That’s a good thing for the Lions, who really didn’t want to compound the situation by being in foul trouble.

All in all, the Lions got called for 14 fouls to Purdue’s nine, which isn’t that egregious when you put it up against other games. The mini-epiphany comes not from the fouls that were called, but the ones that weren’t. As a fan, on a fan-ran publication, it isn’t surprising to notice all the fouls that don’t get called against the Lions, but, how many times have I sat here and said something along the lines of “when the announcers agree with me, we have ourselves a problem.”

And that, my friends, is why Micah Shrewsberry gets heated at times. I bet he can live with Penn State getting called for fouls. He just wants the other teams to get called too.

Still got 11 - Unlike other road outings, Penn State actually made 11 threes in this game. This game really was Purdue having a great night offensively. Nothing you can do about that. The way the Boilers shot the ball, the Lions would have needed well over their record 18 in order to win this one.

Looking Ahead

Penn State’s road trip continues as they travel to Nebraska for the second leg of that series. Game is at 4:30 PM Eastern on the Big Ten Network.