On a night that was quickly overshadowed by football coaching news, Penn State (9-7, 1-2) put together their best performance of the year to dominate the Purdue Boilermakers (12-4, 2-1), picking up their first conference win by the score of 65-45. Penn State had a 14 point lead at halftime and kept a double digit lead for most of the second half, holding Purdue to a season low in points.
Penn State was coming off an ugly road loss to Northwestern, but managed to dominate nearly every aspect of the game. They notched 38 rebounds to Purdue’s 26 and shot 44% to Purdue’s 32%. Penn State also had 26 points in the paint against Purdue’s 8, which is the most remarkable statistic of all considering the size advantage of Purdue. Coach Chambers attributed part of this success to a couple of grueling three hour practices the team has endured over the past two days.
Billy Oliver had the best game of his Penn State career, putting up 21 points with an eye-popping 7 of 11 from behind the arc. As someone who has often been critical of Oliver’s play, it’s easy to see that his shooting stroke has improved significantly since last season. A large number of his three-point opportunities were wide open, due in part to Tim Frazier being able to clear defenders and pass in traffic.
Frazier had 15 points of his own to go along with 9 assists. Jermaine Marshall was the third player to score double-digits in points with 10. Matt Glover also contributed with 11 rebounds and 5 assists in a characteristically gritty performance.
Nick Colella also saw some significant playing time with Cammeron Woodyard out with a minor hamstring injury. Colella, a Penn State Behrend transfer walk-on, beat out freshman Trey Lewis for those minutes. “Nick played hard in practice,” Chambers said. “If you’re going to come out and compete for two days, through two grueling practices and you’re going to show me something, you’re gonna play.”
No one saw this one coming after the way Penn State looked in their first two conference games, but it proves that Penn State has the ability to win on any given night. Who knows, maybe years from now people will look back on this game as the moment when Pat Chambers began to turn this program around. Penn State will look to build off this win when they take on an extremely talented Indiana (14-1, 2-1) team Sunday at noon in the Jordan Center.
Students, get your butts back to State College, it should be another good one.