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Johnson’s Last-Second Jumper Downs Penn State

When a team shoots better than 50% from the field, wins the rebounding battle by 11, and is perfect from the free throw line in an away game, you normally wouldn’t expect them to lose. Then again, Penn State isn’t a normal team.

Jajuan Johnson scored the last of his game-high 25 points on a jumper with 3.4 seconds left and Penn State could not execute the inbounds pass that followed as the Nittany Lions lost their second straight game away from home to a top-15 team, 63-62.

This game might have been even more heartbreaking than Saturday’s loss to Ohio State as Penn State held a 62-61 lead with 18 seconds left after David Jackson hit a three to quiet the Mackey Arena crowd. Purdue came down the floor and guard E’Tawun Moore seemed to lose the ball out-of-bounds, but referees said that Tim Frazier knocked it out with five seconds left on the clock. Johnson hit the jumper on the inbounds pass to give Purdue the lead for good.

The Boilermakers were up by as many as 14 in the first half, but a 22-8 run split between the first and second halves gave Penn State a one point lead early in the second half. From then on, the game was back and forth until Johnson’s dagger.

Once again, coaching ineptitude cost the Nittany Lions players a victory that they rightly deserved. With 3.4 seconds remaining, Coach Ed DeChellis opted for a heave from David Jackson into the frontcourt instead of having Talor Battle or Tim Frazier catch and dribble up the floor. Lewis Jackson picked off the long pass and dribbled away from defenders in celebration.

A couple of comments on Twitter soon after the game captured my thoughts exactly:

8 years is too long to wait for “moral victories” #fireEdless than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry®

Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand-grenades. It’s an L in the standings, and that’s the only thing that matters.less than a minute ago via web

While most casual fans of Penn State Basketball might be thinking that it’s great that we’re sticking around in close games against highly-ranked opponents and knocking off a couple as well, the fact of the matter is that coaching is holding this team back. A young team can afford to take a couple of “moral victories” and use them to learn as they grow up and become the go-to guys in the program.

This is a team with four seniors. Moral victories are no longer an option. This team has had the opportunity to make noise in the conference all year and, especially in the last two games, coaching has failed to be up to par in critical moments. I’ve held back from publically saying anything this year, but this game has finally sent me past the tipping point.

Tim Curley, have some pride in your basketball program and give these kids a chance to win. Fire Ed DeChellis.

Cleaning the Glass

  • Moore had 16 points Wednesday night after scoring only four in Purdue’s trip to Happy Valley.
  • Jeff Brooks led Penn State with 19 points. Battle had 14 and Jackson had 13.
  • Once again, Penn State’s lack of depth showed. Every starter played at least 37 out of the 40 possible minutes.
  • Penn State is now 10-8 on the season, 3-4 in the Big Ten.

About the Author

Dan Vecellio

Dan is a graduate student in meteorology, hailing from Bradford, Pennsylvania. His interests include sports, Penn State and commons cheesesteaks. Feel free to contact me through my email or follow me on Twitter.

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