Second Half Woes Bury Penn State Against No. 1 Purdue

Story posted January 8, 2023 in CommRadio, Sports by Jonathan Draeger

PHILADELPHIA – The Penn State Nittany Lions struggled in the second half against the No. 1 Purdue Boilermakers and fell 76-63 at the Palestra Sunday night.

Senior-plus guard Jalen Pickett finished the night with 26 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Senior forward Seth Lundy ended his night with 14 points on 6-15 shooting and five rebounds.

The two teams managed to trade buckets early on in the match, with Purdue having the early advantage on the Nittany Lions. Toward the back end of the first half, Penn State managed to take control and amp up the crowd as they held the lead for the rest of the first half.

The team headed into the locker rooms with a 37-31 lead, with the fanbase getting louder in the arena. However, an early run for Purdue that started 12-0 snowballed into a dominant 20 minutes for the Boilermakers, shooting 66.7% from the floor and 62.5% from three-point land in the second half.

Junior center Zach Edey had 16 of his 30 points in the second frame, including five of his 13 boards in the second half. “Zach is such a difference maker, “ head coach Micah Shrewsberry said. “You don’t see anything like that in college basketball and in basketball period.”

A bigger piece of Purdue’s second half success came from some of the younger guys. Freshman guard Fletcher Loyer had 14 of his 17 point-performance in the second half, shooting 5-8 from the floor and 3-4 from beyond the arc.

Freshman guard Braden Smith, coming off a 16-point performance with six assists and two steals, continued to show flashes with 15 points on 5-11 shooting and seven assists. The majority of his assists came in the second half, as he dished the ball five times for buckets.

“I see that they play freshmen,” Shrewsberry said. “We play freshmen. I thought that was a huge difference in the game. I thought their freshmen played like seniors.”

For Penn State, the second half proved to be fatal, as the team shot 36.7% from the floor. Their strength in perimeter shooting fell flat, as only 20% of three-pointers were hit for the Nittany Lions.

Pickett, who had 26 points on the day, fell quiet in the second half, being limited to eight points, with four assists and four rebounds. He would lead all second-half scorers for Penn State.

Ever since the Palestra Game first started in 2017, Penn State was 2-0 in the “Cathedral of College Basketball”, with wins over Michigan State in its inception and No.23 Iowa in 2020.

Now, Penn State leaves the City of Brotherly Love with another loss in Big Ten play.
“I thought the first half we played with a toughness that we needed, that represented Philadelphia, that represented Penn State,” Shrewsberry said. “We didn’t play with that same fight. We didn’t play with that same toughness, so we got beat. We didn’t give ourselves a chance because we didn’t play with that time. So, I feel like I let Philadelphia down tonight and I apologize for that.”

Penn State heads back to the Bryce Jordan Center on Wednesday to take on the No. 15 Indiana Hoosiers at 7 p.m.

Jonathan Draeger is a third-year broadcast journalism major. To contact him, email