Game Grades: NC State
As part of the Big Ten-ACC Challenge, the Penn State Nittany Lions dropped their first away game of the year to the NC State Wolfpack by the score of 85-78. Although Penn State jumped to an 11-0 lead early in the first half, the Wolfpack erased that deficit with ease and handed the Nittany Lions their second-straight loss. Here are Penn State’s game grades for Wednesday night’s game:
Shortly after the quick start from Penn State, their offense stalled, enabling NC State to take control of the game. It’s not that the Nittany Lions couldn’t create any opportunities, it’s that they couldn’t execute when given the high-percentage shots.
The Nittany Lions not only missed rather easy field goals late in the first half, but they had a tough time converting at the charity stripe. As a team, the Nittany Lions shot 65 percent from the free throw line, missing eight of their 23 free throws. In retrospect, those 8 points could have been the difference in the game.
The Nittany Lions struggled to take care of the ball as well, turning the ball over 18 times. Two of these turnovers came in the final minute of the game, which helped ice the game for the Wolfpack. As a team, the Nittany Lions totaled just eight assists on the night. This is startling and shows a clear inability to move the ball effectively around the court.
The Nittany Lions had three players who scored double figures on the night. Sophomore guard Tony Carr led the way with 29 points, sophomore forward Lamar Stevens added 12 while senior guard Shep Garner added 10.
The defense kept Penn State in this game down the stretch. Despite NC State shooting lights-out, timely defense by freshman guard Jamari Wheeler and junior guard Josh Reaves kept the game relatively close in the second half.
The 3-point shot was the difference in this game. The Wolfpack were 10 of 16 from beyond the arc, which continuously gave them momentum throughout the game. The Wolfpack took advantage of Penn State not respecting the shot of sophomore center Omer Yurtseven, as he went 3-for-3 from 3-point range. The same could be said for graduate transfer guard Sam Hunt, who went 4-for-5 from 3-point range.
Despite a clear rebound advantage in favor of the Nittany Lions, the Wolfpack were able to come away with very important rebounds that frequently turned into points.
Penn state head coach Pat Chambers worked in fifth-year senior forward Julian Moore and junior forward Satchel Pierce in the rotation early in this game, and their production was a sight for sore eyes when it came to the depth of the frontcourt bench.
The reason the Nittany Lions came away with a loss on Wednesday night wasn’t much due to coach Chambers’ shortcomings. He put his players in the position to win, but they couldn’t execute.
In upcoming practices, expect for there to be an emphasis on the free throw shooting, as the Nittany Lions have struggled from the line this season.
If Penn State wants to be the contenders that they expect themselves to be, these are the type of tough, but winnable games that they need to win throughout the year.
The Nittany Lions will travel to Iowa to face the Hawkeyes on Saturday where they hope to rebound from this loss and capture their first road victory in their Big Ten opener.
Christian Katt is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.