Game Grades: Penn State Men’s Basketball vs. Michigan
Penn State suffered its worst loss of the season on the road against Rutgers and returned home to the Bryce Jordan Center to host Michigan in the annual THON Hoops game.
The Nittany Lions felt the electricity of their home court and dominated the Wolverines from start to finish, winning 83-61.
Let’s break down what led to this important victory.
This performance felt like it had been brewing for a while for Penn State. After a disappointing display of offense against Rutgers, fans felt like the Nittany Lions would have an offensive outburst in this game and they did.
Their shooting numbers were great, finishing with a 54% clip from the field and a 43% from downtown. They knocked down 13 three-pointers including nine in the first half alone. They also passed the ball well, totaling 20 assists in the game.
Jalen Pickett made a statement in this game by going shot-for-shot with Jett Howard in the first half. He finished with an impressive 25 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
Seth Lundy and Andrew Funk got hot again as well and hit eight combined triples. Lundy ended the game with 22 points and seven rebounds while Funk dropped 19 points and seven rebounds himself.
This team is so talented that it still feels like they have another gear to reach, especially in the second half. They shot just 4-for-13 from deep in the second half of this one. Penn State is going to make noise in the postseason and the second half offense will be key to that success.
After giving up 79 points in the last outing against Michigan, Penn State completely flipped the script and took away everything the Wolverines were trying to do.
Michigan was held to 42% from the field and 27% from 3-point range. A team that averages 74 points per game was held to just 61 total by the Nittany Lions’ suffocating defense.
Junior center Hunter Dickinson entered the game averaging 18.3 points per game and was the fourth-best scorer in the Big Ten. Dickinson had trouble getting anything going and finished with just six points on 3-for-9 shooting from the field.
Jett Howard returned to the starting lineup and dropped 21 points, but the Nittany Lions made it a tough night for him in the second half as he had just three points after halftime.
The key points of the defense was its ability to out rebound the Wolverines and win the points in the paint battle.
When the starting lineups were announced and fans saw Mikey Henn in the starting lineup, there was a sense of confusion in the arena. This decision ended up paying off.
Coach Micah Shrewsberry discussed the importance of having good practices and rewarded Henn for doing just that. Henn contributed 10 points on 4-for-4 shooting, two rebounds and three assists in 24 minutes of action.
Shrewsberry and his coaching staff were clearly prepared for what Michigan was going to throw at them. Multiple times, Shrewsberry elected to go with a zone defense out of a timeout in a brilliant move to squash the set that Coach Juwan Howard had drawn up.
Shrewsberry continues to prove why he is gaining recognition as one of the top coaches in the Big Ten and in the nation.
Penn State will travel to West Lafayette this Wednesday for round two against the top team in the country in the Purdue Boilermakers.
Thomas English is a second-year broadcast journalism major. To contact him, email email@example.com.
About the Contributors
Second-year / Broadcast Journalism
Thomas is a broadcast journalist from Shorewood, Illinois which is an hour South of Chicago. He is a second-year student at Penn State majoring in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Spanish. His goal is to be an ESPN broadcaster who covers a variety of sports including professional and college level football and basketball and bring entertainment to people all over the world. His other goal is to spread his love of sports to all cultures through projects that allow children of all ethnicities to learn and play all kinds of sports. He is currently an active member of CommRadio, a student run radio station at Penn State. He plans to create his own sports podcast as well as doing play by play and analysis for Penn State sporting events in the future. In the future, he hopes to use his skills to entertain people all over the world!