Penn State Men’s Basketball Game Grades: Rutgers

Story posted January 13, 2022 in Sports, CommRadio by Aidan Torok

Penn State returned to its winning ways by defeating the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 66-49. The Nittany Lions did not let the Purdue loss affect their play. They responded with a big win against one of their rivals and improved to 8-6 and  3-3 in conference play.

It was a sluggish, defensive battle at the Bryce Jordan Center Tuesday night. It took a while for both offenses to get going, but Penn State was able to pull away late thanks to some key shooting from junior forward Seth Lundy and senior guard Sam Sessoms.

Let's take a look at how the blue and white's performance graded out. 

Offense B-

Penn State’s offense has not been their strong suit. They have lacked that one go-to scorer late in games, and its half-court offense has been pretty pedestrian this season. Tuesday's game was no different. Penn State’s offense was only able to muster 27 points in the first half.

Turnovers were also a problem. The Nittany Lions gave up the ball 13 times Tuesday, which led to plenty of opportunities for the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers was able to score 18 points off the 13 turnovers.

However, in the second half, Penn State’s offense was able to get going. Sessoms stepped up when his team needed him the most. The guard was able to tally 17 points off the bench on 7-10 shooting.

Shooting from the perimeter, especially from downtown, has been a problem for Penn State all season long. In the second half, it was a much better effort as the Nittany Lions shot 37.5 percent from behind the arc.

If Penn State wants to make some noise in the Big Ten they need more of the same effort they got in the second half.

Defense A

Every game in the Big Ten is tough, and Rutgers Basketball is no joke. The Scarlet Knights are led by two experienced scorers in Ron Harper Jr. and Geo Baker. Rutgers is also fresh off of an impressive offensive showing against Nebraska.

Rutgers scored 93 points against the Cornhuskers, but Penn State’s defense was able to carry them to this win Tuesday Night. Rutgers was only able to shoot 33.9 percent from the field, and their star, Harper Jr., struggled mightily.

Penn State brought a physicality to the game and didn’t let up any easy baskets especially down low. Penn State outrebounded Rutgers 41 to 33.

John Harrar might be undersized some nights in the frontcourt, but his hustle is undeniable. Harrar was first to every loose ball and played exceptional help defense underneath the basket.

Coaching B+

Micah Shrewsberry deserves all of the credit in the world. The first-year coach has gotten exceptional play from his team in the last two weeks.

Penn State had a bumpy start to the season. However, this team has not quit on Shrewsberry. The Big Ten is a tough conference, and after all of the transfers, no one expected Penn State to be relevant in the Big Ten. However, here we are with Penn State 3-3 in conference play, and in eighth place in the conference.

The blue and white have also had numerous COVID problems this campaign. The team has had plenty of opportunities to give up on this season, but Shrewsberry has gotten a great effort from his players on a nightly basis.

The schedule does get harder, but Shrewsberry just needs his players to keep believing so he can use this season as a building block moving forward.

Aidan Torok is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email ajt6051@psu.edu.

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Aidan Torok

Sophmore / Broadcast Journalism

Aidan Torok is a sophmore from West Caldwell, New Jersey majoring in broadcast journalism at Penn State. He produces content and does play-by-play announcing and beat writing for the CommRadio sports department. If you’d like to contact him, email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).