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Penn State Hoops Drops Tough Battle With No. 3 Purdue 74-67

Penn State men’s basketball (7-5, 2-2 Big Ten) fell to No. 3 Purdue (12-2, 1-2 Big Ten) 74-67 at the Bryce Jordan Center Saturday afternoon. The matchup was head coach Micah Shrewsberry’s first game back against Purdue since leaving its staff for the Nittany Lions last year.

Jalen Pickett was the ringleader of Penn State’s offense for the majority of the game, scoring 21 points and dishing out a season-high 10 assists. Although the Nittany Lions found success from the three-point arc in the second half, Purdue got hot and bullied its way to a win.

How It Happened

The Boilermakers turned the opening tipoff into a dunk from center Zach Edey on their offensive side of the court. After a couple of missed open shots by Penn State and a three from Purdue, Jalen Pickett was able to break the Nittany Lions’ scoring drought to make it 5-2.

Penn State took advantage of its opponents’ missed opportunities, with Pickett leading the efficient offensive charge. Pickett’s three-pointer and two assists to Jalanni White helped the Nittany Lions tie up the game 10-10.

Following two costly mistakes from Sam Sessoms which resulted in his substitution, Penn State went on a 9-0 run sparked by a pair of steals from John Harrar and Seth Lundy. The offensive swing was punctuated by a long, shot clock-beating jumper from Greg Lee to give the Nittany Lions a 21-14 advantage and get the fans rocking.

Purdue’s first timeout helped stifle Penn State’s momentum, as dominant paint play and a Sessoms foul gave the Boilermakers a 9-0 run of their own, swinging the lead back in their favor 23-21. Shooting only 2-for-10 over the next couple of minutes, the Nittany Lions were able to bring the game back within reach, 29-26, after forcing turnovers, bad misses, and a third foul on Edey.

A Harrar pass directly to a defender led to a frustrating foul from Jaheim Cornwall that was deemed a Flagrant I. Purdue’s Ethan Morton split free throws at his trip to the line, maintaining his team’s three-point edge at 33-30. Lundy committed Penn State’s seventh turnover of the half, and despite Purdue’s three-point attempt falling way short, the team managed to get an easy rebound and draw a foul from Lundy. The Boilermakers’ Mason Gillis hit both last-second free throws, sending his team into halftime with a 35-30 lead.

Lee got the second half started for Penn State with a mid-range jumper, but Purdue spent the first three minutes bullying its way to a 7-0 run and a 44-32 lead increase. After getting fouled on a reverse layup, Lundy converted both free throws to get his first points for the game, though the Nittany Lions remained down by 10.

About ninety scoreless seconds went by until both squads began trading baskets back and forth. After Boilermakers Sasha Stefanovic hit his personal third three-pointer of the game, Dallion Johnson gave Penn State the s team’s second three-pointer. The shooting disparity was evident as the Nittany Lions failed to make up any of their 10-point deficit through almost four minutes.

Pickett again beat the shot clock with a long three-pointer and Lundy picked up a three of his own on the subsequent possession. Lee secured a big-time layup to bring the game back within reach at 53-49 with eight minutes left in regulation.

Penn State’s 11-2 run was stopped in its tracks by an emphatic and-one jumper from Purdue’s Trevion Williams. A contested three by the Boilermakers was immediately answered by two three-pointers from Myles Dread and Seth Lundy, putting the game at 59-57 in Purdue’s favor.

The buckets did not stop raining down from behind the arc as the teams continued trading them, including Jalanni White’s first as a Nittany Lion. As the final media timeout began, Penn State trailed by just a bucket — a fact that was not lost on the loud Bryce Jordan Center crowd.

Directly after play resumed, Lee hit a huge three-pointer to give the Nittany Lions their first lead since the first half, 65-64. An 8-2 run for the Boilermakers eroded Penn State’s progress and put the score at 72-67 with one minute remaining. Penn State’s cold streak from deep reared its head again, as its attempts to shoot back into the game were rendered futile.

Takeaways

  • Penn State’s defense in the paint showed flashes of promise at times, but for most of the game, the Boilermakers were scoring at will. Nearly half of Purdue’s 74 points came in the paint. In arguably the toughest conference in college basketball, Penn State can’t give away points so easily if it wants to be able to hang with the better teams.
  • In his first year in State College, Jalen Pickett is blossoming into a star for Penn State to rally around. Playing 39 minutes, Pickett continued his set of strong recent performances by picking up his first double-double of the season.
  • Although there are no moral victories, Penn State’s second half was especially encouraging. After a cold shooting spell in the first half that saw only four Nittany Lions record points, Penn State was able to get some momentum going midway through the second. When they were on their game, the Nittany Lions appeared to hold their own against a conference heavyweight. If the Nittany Lions can consistently convert offensive possessions in that manner, they may have spoiler potential in big games.
  • After taking on a bench role last game against Northwestern, Sam Sessoms was relegated to playing just seven minutes against Purdue. With no points, two turnovers, and the team’s worst defensive rating, his playing time may be a question mark going forward.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will host the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in another Big Ten matchup on Tuesday, January 11. Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. inside the Bryce Jordan Center on the Big Ten Network.

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About the Author

Sam Fremin

Sam is a junior from Ashburn, Virginia, majoring in Journalism and Political Science and minoring in German and Creative Writing. He is a Dallas Cowboys fan who relishes the misery of Eagles fans. All hate comments can be directed to [email protected] or @TheSammer88 on all social media platforms.

He may or may not read every single comment he gets.

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