Purdue Game Grades
After Tuesday’s uplifting upset over No.6 Michigan, Penn State was humbled Saturday afternoon in West Lafayette. The Nittany Lions fell to the No.12 Purdue Boilermakers for the second time in three weeks by a score of 76-64.
The loss drops Penn State to 9-16 (2-12) on the season and keeps them sitting alone at the bottom of the Big Ten standings. Let’s evaluate the performance of coach Pat Chambers and company following the defeat:
Very few Nittany Lions had a good day on the offensive side of the basketball. Lamar Stevens, Myles Dread and Rasir Bolton were the only Penn State players to manage double figures. Bolton was hot early and helped Penn State jump out in front, maintaining a lead for a good portion of the first half. Unfortunately, as Bolton’s perimeter game faded, so did the Nittany Lions offense.
Penn State shot an abysmal 38.3 percent from the field, and 20.8 percent from 3-point range. Too many low percentage shots were attempted throughout the second half trying to respond quickly to a Purdue side which had caught fire in the second half.
The post game was also disrupted throughout the second half. A plethora of Nittany Lions were in foul trouble in the later stages of the game, including both Mike Watkins and John Harrar. Watkins was hardly effective at all, picking up four fouls in his first 10 minutes of action, and being held scoreless until he fouled out with 3:54 minutes remaining. Harrar was more effective down low, but ultimately fouled out relatively early.
Stevens and Josh Reaves also found themselves in foul trouble, no doubt affecting their aggressiveness later in the contest. Matt Haarms caused problems for any Penn State player in the paint all afternoon, picking up a pair of blocks for his efforts.
Some positives for Penn State to take out of this poor offensive performance would be shooting 76.5 percent from the free throw line, well over the season average of 67.5 percent. The Nittany Lions also out rebounded Purdue on the offensive glass 11 to Purdue’s seven. The transition game also remained efficient throughout the contest, keeping Penn State within striking distance until the last few minutes.
The defense certainly showed improvement from its first matchup against Purdue. The Nittany Lions conceded nine less points through 40 minutes than last month’s matchup at the Bryce Jordan Center, and held the Boilermakers to 17 fewer first half points.
The defense also managed to limit Carsen Edwards to a subpar 21-point performance after allowing 38 to the junior guard in the previous matchup.
Where Penn State failed, however, was limiting Purdue’s 3-point shooting game as a unit in the second half. After making only two shots from behind the arc in the first half, the Boilermakers converted on seven 3-point attempts in the final 20 minutes.
Purdue had success down low as well. The Boilermakers used their physicality to draw 28 free throws in the contest. While the Nittany Lions only allowed seven offensive rebounds, they failed to regroup against a Purdue offense which made the most of its second chance opportunities.
Despite allowing the Boilermakers to shoot 52.4 percent from the field, Penn State held them around their season average of 77.8 points per game. The Nittany Lions also forced Purdue into a season-high 23 turnovers. The solid adjustments made on defense between the two matchups justifies the proficient grade.
Patrick Chambers had his hands tied, to a certain extent, for most of the second half. Both of his go-to big men were in foul trouble, but he dealt with it quite well. His use of Myreon Jones off the bench to provide a spark with a smaller unit on the court worked well to help the Penn State offense claw its way back into the game in the middle of the second half.
Still, the offensive game plan lacked fluidity. When not in transition, Penn State’s ball movement was certainly predictable at times, and caused the team to settle for low percentage shots. This, with a lack of adjustment to Purdue’s enhanced perimeter shooting in the second half, is what ultimately led to the separation between the two sides.
Andre Magaro is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.