Game Grades: Men’s Basketball vs. Indiana
The No. 9 Penn State Nittany Lions were defeated by the Indiana Hoosiers on Sunday 68-60. Penn State roared back from a 19-point deficit in the second half but could not close out the game. The team has now lost two in a row, and missing key ball-handler Myreon Jones has not helped. Let’s give out some game grades as the Nittany Lions look to finish their schedule on a high note heading into March.
Penn State went down early but did enough to put itself back into the game. Still, the intense away environment that is Assembly Hall proved to be a factor in the loss, and shooting 2-of-14 from 3-point range really hurt the Nittany Lions. The only player on the team to make a 3-pointer all day was Myles Dread.
Senior Lamar Stevens led his team with 29 points, shooting 11-for-27 from the field. However, Stevens took more than half of the entire Penn State shot total. No other Nittany Lion got into a rhythm on possessions, as there was very little ball movement. Dread was the only other player to crack double digits.
At halftime, Penn State was down by 13 points but the team rallied to be up by six with about 12 minutes remaining. However, Indiana’s defense was lockdown, creating Penn State turnovers and stops and helping the Hoosiers to pull ahead in the end.
This was the Nittany Lions’ worst offense performance in a while, despite shooting 41.5% from the field. Letting Stevens take the majority of the team’s shots while constantly being double-teamed is not a smart way to run an offense. In the future, this team needs to spread the ball and get players like Jamari Wheeler, Seth Lundy and Mike Watkins going. The post-up game was not working, and the outside shooting wasn’t either, but the Nittany Lions had poor shot selection and needed to run more designed plays.
The defense did have a solid showing. This was a streaky game in which the team that momentum would go on scoring runs, and Indiana and Penn State alternated between this role. When Indiana was hot, there was nothing for the Penn State defense to do but watch.
But overall, the Nittany Lions played good defense, holding the Hoosiers to average numbers of 42.6% from the field and 36% from 3-point range.
The game was relatively low scoring compared to other games, and the Nittany Lions should get credit for making stops when they needed to. Penn State just needs to set up transition offense more fluidly when making defensive stands. Overall, the defense played just a level below its Indiana counterpart. It was only when the Hoosiers were on a run that the Nittany Lions faltered.
As mentioned before, the offensive game plan was either poorly drawn up or just not executed. When the Hoosiers defense’s main goal is to stop Lamar Stevens, and the Nittany Lions insist on giving him possessions in the last 10 seconds of the shot clock while no other teammate touches the ball, that’s a recipe for failure.
Coach Pat Chambers did not try to get other players involved, and that killed his team’s chemistry. The Nittany Lions can score from both inside and outside, but they could not commit to anything other than post-ups and isolations for Stevens. On the defensive side of the ball, the rotations were slow, leading to some easy buckets for the Hoosiers.
Penn State kept the game within reach until the final minutes when free throws allowed Indiana to pull away. It was nowhere near the Nittany Lions’ best game, yet they easily could have won had a couple possessions gone their way instead.
Matt Noah is a freshman majoring in journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.