Nebraska Game Grades
You can definitely call the previous loss Penn State had against Purdue a hangover game after a marquee win against No. 6 Michigan. However, head coach Patrick Chambers was able to compose his team in a key matchup against Nebraska at home for that sliver of hope of a postseason berth.
A result of that is a 24-point win for the Lions, 95-71, in one of the least stressful games of the season. The team still sits at the bottom of Big Ten while improving its record to 10-16. Let’s check in on how the team did this game.
This was the best offensive game Penn State has played in this season in terms of scoring, but other things too. A fast start, which has been a theme for Penn State, helped propel the Lions to this win. They started the game with a 15-5 run and actually kept the foot on the gas pedal this time round, pushing the advantage to 19 points by the end of the first half and cruised to a victory.
Lamar Stevens was still the focal point of the offense, going 11 of 18 from the field for 29 points to lead all scorers. However, the breakout player of this game was definitely Rasir Bolton. The young guard saw a lot of court time in Chambers’ now-preferred small lineup with Stevens at the five, as seen with John Harrar and Mike Watkins only combined for 27 minutes of play time. Bolton was 8-12 this game while going 3-4 from outside the arc, carrying the scoring load with 21 points of his own.
A 17 to 7 assist-to-turnover ratio is not too shabby for the home team either, considering three of those were charged upon Watkins and the guards only had three TOs.
This grade is a bit nitpicky as the performance was rather domineering. Penn State was able to deal with James Palmer Jr. rather handily, holding him to 35 percent from the field. However, he was bailed out by fouls way too often as he got to the charity stripe 13 times. The Huskers’ second henchman, Isaiah Roby, posted an efficient 17-point performance with 8-of-10 shooting. Roby was the in-between matchup that could be tricky for someone like Reaves or Stevens to switch on in a smaller lineup.
The upside is that apart from Roby and Palmer Jr., the only Cornhusker to reach double digits was sophomore Thomas Allen, who chipped in 11 points. Josh Reaves for the Nittany Lions was the standout in this match, recording a steal and three blocks.
Chambers has returned to his small-ball lineup with this Isaac Copeland-less Nebraska team and it worked like a charm at home in the undefeated black-and-pink jerseys. The more important theme in the game, though, was his conscious effort to really limit the rotation to seven players, even barely so. Stevens, Reaves and Bolton all saw 30-plus minutes of action, while Dread and Wheeler chipped in 25-plus of their own. In this win-or-go-home time, Chambers must be able to clamp down and run with the group he trusts the most, and he certainly did this game.
Ryan Lam is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.