Penn State Men’s Basketball Game Grades: Butler
Penn State took down Butler 68-62 in the seventh annual Gavitt Games from the Bryce Jordan Center Monday night.
The blue and white started 3-0 for the first time under coach Micah Shrewsberry. The team soared in its first two games this season, but the Nittany Lions got grounded a bit by this close win.
Here’s what the report card says about the team’s performance:
Penn State continued its success beyond the three-point arc, but the overall shooting performance faded a bit. The Nittany Lions shot at a 42% clip from downtown, but converted 46% on all shots.
The silver lining of the night belongs to the preseason All-Big Ten guard: Jalen Pickett. The super-senior had Penn State’s second ever triple-double, racking up 15 points with 10 boards and 11 assists.
The last Nittany Lion triple-double dates back to March 16, 1998, when center Calvin Booth recorded 19 points, 10 rebounds, and a program record 10 blocks in a 77-74 victory over Dayton in the NIT tournament.
The downside? Penn State lost the turnover battle, committing 11 turnovers compared to Butler’s five. Sloppy possessions over the waning minutes of the game caused a 14-point lead to decrease to five points in a matter of minutes.
The phrase, “gritty, not pretty,” is a great way to describe the offense tonight.
The defense managed to fill the holes where the offense couldn’t, boasting 36 defensive compared to seven offensive rebounds for Butler.
It’s impressive, considering the Bulldogs’ starting big man stands at 6-foot-11. The rebound category was in favor of Penn State, as it outrebounded Butler 40-36.
However, whenever 6-foot-11 Manny Bates got the ball into the low post, the odds of him scoring in the paint were massive. The center converted 8-of-12 field goals, racking up a game-high 16 points.
Other than Bates, no other player from the starting lineup hit over 36% of their shots. Along with that, the team had a rough night from three-point land, shooting a 22% clip from three.
A good defensive performance, yet the interior defense took another hit, which could be exposed heading into Big Ten play if changes are not made.
Penn State went three-deep on the bench tonight. The bench combined for 12 points, as four of the starters all hit double digits in points, except for Caleb Dorsey’s nine points.
The defensive gameplan to play single-post defense on Bates, who towers over every player on Penn State’s roster, was not too effective, as Bates utilized the sky hook. Last Thursday, the team decided to double-team the post, which worked well, so the revert back to man-to-man defense without any additional pressure is a head-scratcher.
Regardless, the team won the game by its usual style of grit. It’s a constant, but Shrewsberry did a great job of breaking slumps and forcing his team to make a play.
This could be a wakeup call for Penn State as they head into the Charleston Classic later this week against a loaded tournament field.
Jonathan Draeger is a third year broadcast journalism major. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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