Penn State Men’s Basketball Game Grades: Lafayette
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State continued its winning ways in nonconference play as it took down Lafayette 70-57 Friday night in the Bryce Jordan Center.
This marks the fourth win at home for the Nittany Lions, while also making it the fourth win by double-digits. The blue and white played in its first game since the third-place match of the Charleston Classic, where it took down Colorado State 68-56.
Despite the four-day hiatus, and a Thanksgiving feast the day before, the Nittany Lions picked up where they left off in Charleston. Here’s the grades for their performance.
Looking at the box score alone, Penn State looks to have run away with the game as soon as the ball was tipped. However, don’t let the numbers fool you.
Yes, the team shot 48% from the floor and 41% from three as a unit. Fifth-year guard Jalen Pickett and senior forward Seth Lundy scored in double figures, with Pickett’s 18 points and Lundy’s 15 points.
However, Penn State started flat against the Leopards. The blue and white managed to give the Leopards a lead as large as seven points, which forced the hand of coach Micah Shrewsberry to call a timeout just a few seconds away from the under-12-minute timeout.
Once that timeout was called, the team woke up from its collective slump and rattled off scoring run after scoring run, which later trickled into the second half. After that timeout, the team took the lead and never looked back.
Another deficiency is something Shrewsberry values most: rebounding. Penn State could not clean up the glass offensively, being outrebounded 16-6.
The big men combinations of freshmen Kebba Njie and Demetrius Lilley, and juniors Caleb Dorsey and Mikey Henn had trouble grabbing boards, with Njie grabbing the most for the frontcourt unit with five boards.
The original identity of Penn State basketball in year one of the Shrewsberry era was on display tonight. The defense found ways to create chaos for Lafayette.
To start, the second half stymied the Leopards in a multitude of ways, as the team went on two five-plus minute scoring droughts in the second half, eventually ending on a 10-0 scoring run in the last three minutes of garbage time.
Lafayette attempts the 14th-most three-pointers in the nation. Penn State only allowed the Leopards to convert 32% of their threes, which is two percentage points below their season average.
However, the rebounding department was on their side defensively. Penn State did clean the glass more than the Leopards on the defensive end 27-24, racking up the total to 40-33 in favor of Lafayette.
With the grit and grind of what the Big Ten has to offer, rebounds are most important, especially with three of the best big men residing in the conference.
The saying, “get knocked down nine times, get up 10” is a way to describe what Shrewsberry did nearing the under-12-minute timeout.
That timeout was used as a wake-up call to get the team rolling after going down 19-12 to Lafayette. From there, Penn State broke out offensively and quickly went on a 12-4 scoring run.
Once the offense worked the lead up to 20 points toward the end of the game, Shrewsberry decided to empty the bench and get some players time on the court. One notable player made his debut not only as a Nittany Lion, but as a collegiate player: freshman forward Demetrius Lilley.
Utilizing Lilley to get him to game speed is a similar tactic that Shrewsberry did when forward Jevonnie Scott fell behind last season. Shrewsberry could add another big man once Lilley is ready, adding more height and physicality into a thin group.
Jonathan Draeger is a third-year broadcast journalism major. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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