Look, nobody in their right mind was expecting Penn State to go on the road at No. 1-ranked Purdue and come out with a win, especially not coming off a tough loss at home to Northwestern which they let get away. What wasn’t necessarily expected though, was for the Boilermakers to come out and shoot at such an astronomically high percentage (Purdue at one point, was shooting 73 percent from the floor) that fellow Purdue alumnus Neil Armstrong would do a double-take.
It didn’t exactly start that way, though. The first five minutes in fact, were actually quite entertaining, as PSU dialed up the defensive intensity with some full-court pressing and half-court trapping of Purdue’s guards, along with double-teaming 7’4” behemoth Zach Edey in the paint every time he touched the ball inside. A couple made shots from Kanye Clary, with Ace Baldwin, D’Marco Dunn, and Nick Kern contributing as well, gave the Nittany Lions a 10-8 lead with 15:36 to go in the first half...
Unfortunately, the good times came to a long, painful, and drawn out end, as the Boilers proceeded to go on a 27-2 run over the next six minutes, thanks to a combination of Mason Gillis and Lance Jones getting hot from downtown, while Edey began to dominate like he typically does (Edey would finish with 30 points and 20 rebounds). By the time, Kanye hit a three to quell the bleeding, the Lions were in a 20-plus point hole and found themselves trailing 56-36 at halftime (the 56 points being the most scored in a half this season by Purdue).
The second half saw the Nits draw no closer than within 16 points early on, as the Boilers continued to pick up where they left off at halftime. The only drama in the final minutes was whether Purdue would reach the hundred-point mark, which they came up only five points short of doing.
Player of the Game
Nick Kern, Jr. - 18 points, 4 rebounds
Yes, Kanye and Ace both were fine themselves, pitching in 16 and 13 points, respectively, However, when we get a chance to mix things up and award POTG to someone other than those two, we’re going to do so. Kern had his highest-scoring game in a PSU uniform, coming off the bench to lead the team in scoring and crash the boards on what was an otherwise forgettable afternoon.
- Doubling Edey Backfired - While it may have sounded like a good idea on paper, continuing to double Edey ultimately led to him dishing it out to wide-open shooters on the perimeter, who were more than happy to oblige. It’s what sparked the 27-2 run that effectively put the game out of reach before halftime. It may have been a better idea to just let Edey do his thing down low (like he ended up doing anyway) and focus more on guarding the perimeter.
- More Jameel Brown, plz - Jameel came into the game later in the first half and brought some instant offense off the bench with a few three-pointers. He didn’t see any action afterwards until well into the second half, which was baffling, when you consider that Zach Hicks continues to start and get a ton of run despite not being able to hit threes as he was expected to.
- The First of Several Tough Games - The remaining games in January for PSU include a home date with Wisconsin, a road rematch with Ohio State, an improved Minnesota team at home, and a road trip to Rutgers, where they haven’t won since March 2019. Oh, and they get to start off February with a road trip to Indiana. Buckle up folks, ‘cause we’re probably in for a B1G, bumpy, ride...
Penn State (8-9, 2-4 B1G) heads back to the friendly, cavernous, confines of the Bryce Jordan Center to host No. 15 Wisconsin on Tuesday. Tipoff will be at 9:00 PM EST on B1G Network.