Game Grades: Penn State Men’s Basketball vs. Michigan State
The Penn State Nittany Lions fell to the Michigan State Spartans to open Big Ten conference play on Wednesday night 67-58 at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Penn State fell to 6-3 on the year suffering its second straight defeat of the season. That marks the third loss in the last five games for the blue and white.
The Big Ten opener could’ve been a step forward for Penn State to take the driver’s seat on its season. However, the report card may be one to hide from your parents.
Penn State offensively found a groove offensively in the first half, going 11-for-29 from the floor and 7-for-18 from downtown, racking up 35 points total. The second half saw the wheels fall off the wagon.
The 3-ball, one of Penn State’s most potent attacks, fell silent, going 1-for-8 from beyond the arc in the second half. Falling stagnant, senior-plus guard Jalen Pickett looked to facilitate from the paint and work from there.
The frontcourt for Penn State had a rough time generating points from the paint, with forwards Kebba Njie and Caleb Dorsey combining for eight points total, with only four of those points coming from the paint. The team’s total points in the paint from tonight ended at 22 points, which can stem from the lack of finishing through contact for the big men.
The free throws hit at a 66.7% clip, but the shots could not fall in the clutch time. On a rough shooting night for the squad, the free throws could have been the saving grace as time ticked away in the second half.
The defense is managing to pick up the pace a bit, and they have managed to close out on shots. Michigan State, however, made its shots down the stretch
The interior defense showed up and held center Mady Sissoko to zero points. With their big man out offensively, someone had to step up for Sparty.
Guard A.J. Hoggard had himself a career night, posting 23 points on 50% shooting with six rebounds and two assists. Once Hoggard established himself on the court, it gave others like guards Joey Hauser and Tyson Walker to pose as threats all around.
Speaking of Hauser, he managed to clean the glass with 15 rebounds, accounting for over 33% of Michigan State’s 40 rebounds, which has a six board-advantage on Penn State.
Penn State managed to mark down, but could not pick up the pieces offensively, especially with 16 of Pickett’s 17 rebounds on the defensive end.
Head coach Micah Shrewsberry was anticipating this game as a must win in the media availability this week. He called out the fans to come out and support the team, mentioning how his team wanted to feel supported like the other Penn State programs.
“We got a fun group. We got a bunch of good dudes,” Shrewsberry said. “I’m just asking for somebody to support them.”
Through the identity of the “Live by the three, die by the three,” the team died by the three in the second half. From there, there were not many adjustments to help out the offense to get into a groove in crunch time.
Pickett’s consistent facilitating could not be the saving grace for Penn State, as the team went quiet for the last 2:37 minutes of the game. Shrewsberry needs his shooters to step up to find success.
Jonathan Draeger is a third-year broadcast journalism major. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.