Game Grades: Nebraska
The Penn State Nittany Lions lost in a close game to the Nebraska Cornhuskers 62-61 on Sunday night. The Nittany Lions had the last possession and a chance to win but could not put up a shot before time ran out. For the Cornhuskers, this win snaps a nine-game losing streak and puts them at 5-12 overall. Penn State moves to 7-10 for a loss that seriously hurts their résumé for March Madness. Let’s give out some grades from the game for the offense, defense and coaching.
Coming off another close loss to the Michigan State Spartans 60-58 on Tuesday, Feb. 9, Penn State hoped returning home to the Bryce Jordan Center could be the necessary spark to get back on track. They did in a way, as the Nittany Lions eclipsed the 60-point mark for the first time in the month of February. However, it was on dreadful efficiency: 32.3% from the field and 29% from beyond the arc. To give the Nittany Lions credit, they did take nine more shots than Cornhuskers and 12 more 3-pointers, but those shots just were not falling.
The Nittany Lions tried a balanced offensive approach and had three scorers in double digits, Myreon Jones the leader with 18 points and Myles Dread second with 14. But Penn State left many points on the board; not a single player on the team shot over 50%.
The defense overall was good at limiting the total number of shots that Nebraska took. However, most of the shots were quality looks, resulting in the Cornhuskers shooting 48.2% from the field and 36.8% from 3.
A handful of Nittany Lions had solid performances defensively; John Harrar grabbed 11 rebounds, two blocks and a steal, while Jamari Wheeler had great guard play, snagging nine rebounds and three steals.
Nebraska also utilized a spread attack on offense. Teddy Allen led the team with 14 points, and Kobe Webster followed with 13. The Cornhuskers average 70.5 points per game and were held to just 62 on Sunday night, but as a whole, the defense could not get it done in crunch time, failing to stop the fast-break layup by Allen—the game-winning bucket—with 12 seconds left.
Penn State did play down to its competition, but at the end of the day, the shots just were not falling.
The game plan of slowing the game down to limit shots worked on defense. Offensively, the team needs to find a successful play where it results in an open shot or easy layup more often. Nebraka’s defense often forced contested shots and denied penetration.
The Nittany Lions could be a 3-point shooting team, but they have to find their stroke if they want to shoot 30 or more 3-point attempts in a game. Otherwise, it’s just not a justifiable strategy.
Head coach Jim Ferry needs to better motivate his team to finish games strong. The defensive intensity was there, and the team had active hands the whole game, but the clutch factor just isn’t there. The Nittany Lions are always a threat to win, but they direly need to take care of business in games in which the opponent is worse on paper.
Penn State will look to get back in the win column when it plays No. 4 Ohio State this Thursday.
Matt Noah is a freshman majoring in journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Freshman / Broadcast Journalism
Matt Noah is a freshman based 6 hours away, 30 minutes outside of Boston in Framingham, MA. He is a Boston sports fan but can keep a conversation in any sport thanks to his passion. Big fantasy football enthusiast. Planning to pursue a career in Broadcast Journalism.