Game Grades: Nebraska
After going down 37-23 in the first half, Penn State rallied back to win in the first round of the Big Ten tournament over Nebraska. Jamari Wheeler had a night, scoring a career-high 19 points for the Nittany Lions. His leadership energized Penn State, allowing the Nittany Lions to keep their season alive. This game was a mirror image of the Nittany Lions’ previous win against Maryland, which they came back to win after being down big early. Let’s give out some grades for their performance.
Penn State doesn’t deserve an A even though its second-half performance was sensational. The Nittany Lions struggled from 3, shooting 2 of 15 in the first half; both of those 3-pointers came from Wheeler.
Three of Penn State’s starters were held to 0 points in the first half, and they only scored a team total 23 points, which was tied for their lowest points in a half this season.
Penn State opened the second half on a 10-0 run backed by Wheeler and Myreon Jones triples. Penn state took its first lead at 51-50 since being up 3-0 two minutes into the game.
The Nittany Lions got into the bonus around the 13-minute mark. This allowed them to rack up points from the free-throw line. They shot 23 of 29 from the charity stripes, which was a big factor for why they won this game.
Nebraska was without its leading scorer Teddy Allen, who scored 41 points the last time the Cornhuskers played Penn State. Without Allen, they looked to spread the floor, and this created offense by driving and dishing to shooters around the perimeter.
The Nittany Lions struggled to stop penetration in the paint, while Nebraska also made several uncontested 3-pointers that resulted from Penn State collapsing on the drive. Thorir Thorbjarnarson started the game shooting a perfect 3-for-3 from beyond the arc.
In the second half, Penn State held Nebraska to only 29 points. Now on a three-game win streak, the Nittany Lions have been solid on defense, holding opponents to, on average, 64 points in those three games.
Head Coach Jim Ferry must have had an amazing halftime speech because Penn State looked like a different team in the second half. He knew that this team could come back in this game; all it needed was a spark of energy.
The Penn State bench started chanting “defense” on the first possession, which was an indicator that Ferry told them to approach the second half with more energy.
Penn State now advances to the next round of the Big Ten tournament to take on Wisconsin. The Nittany Lions played the Badgers twice this season and traded wins in both games. This game will take place Thursday night at 9 p.m.
Austin Groft is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Sophomore / Broadcast Journalism