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A Midseason Recap Of Penn State Hoops’ 2022-2023 Campaign

The Micah Shrewsberry Era is beginning to take shape, folks.

If you haven’t been in the loop on Penn State men’s basketball because you were too busy celebrating the end of a successful football season, enjoying a much-needed holiday break, or preparing yourself for a new semester, don’t stress! We put together a short, yet informative recap of the Nittany Lions’ season so far and what it could possibly mean for playing ball in M A R C H.

Penn State currently sits at 13-6 with a 4-4 Big Ten record. With a few huge wins and a couple of bad losses, let’s take a look at how the first half of the season shook out.

Games

Micah Shrewsberry and Co. started the season at home in the Bryce Jordan Center and demolished Winthrop in a game where the team tied a program-record 18 three-pointers. After another commanding win over Loyola Maryland, fifth-year guard Jalen Pickett made program history when he dropped the second triple-double in Penn State basketball history in a six-point victory over Butler.

After three straight home stands, Penn State traveled to South Carolina and participated in the Charleston Classic. Following a close win over Furman, the Nittany Lions dropped their first game of the season in a heartbreaking two-point loss to Virginia Tech. Penn State wrapped up the invitational tournament with a win over Colorado State, which resulted in a fourth-place finish in Charleston.

The Nittany Lions came back home and took care of business against Lafayette. After that, Penn State dropped its highest point total of the season with 94, but it wasn’t enough as it lost in double-overtime to Clemson in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

After a 6-2 start, the boys in blue and white started Big Ten play when Penn State hosted Michigan State. The Spartans were too much to handle in their 67-58 win, but Penn State did gain a new fan in Tom Izzo. The Nittany Lions rebounded in a statement win on the road for their first-ranked — a 74-59 win over Illinois. Then, Penn State took a Big Ten break and collected wins over Canisius, Quinnipiac, and Delaware State to end 2022.

Penn State started the New Year off on the right foot with a win against Iowa, but three days later, it lost by 10 to Michigan even after Myles Dread joined the 1,000-point club off a triple in the first half. The Nittany Lions then had the privilege of playing at the Cathedral of College Basketball, the Palestra. However, No. 1 Purdue proved why it’s the best team in the nation after coming out victorious. Shrewsberry still had a few words for the officials, though.

The team bounced back and tied its 18 three-pointer record against Indiana at the Bryce Jordan Center, and Seth Lundy joined the 1,000-point club after a 25-point performance. However, Penn State followed it up with a loss to Wisconsin after a last-second triple attempt from Andrew Funk failed to tie the game. Funk made it up when he dropped a season-high 23 points in last weekend’s home-cooking win against Nebraska.

Stats

Penn State’s season can be summed up simply: three-pointers.

The Nittany Lions rank No. 5 in three-point attempts and No. 10 in three-point percentage in the nation. Funk leads all Penn Staters with 144 attempts on a highly efficient 42.2% clip. Myles Dread and Seth Lundy are also shooting 42% from three-point land.

Pickett is also having a historic season. After dropping the program’s second-ever triple-double, he has continued to fill the stat sheet and leads all Nittany Lions in scoring (17.4), rebounding (7.9), and assists (7.2). He’s also the only player in the nation currently averaging 17/7/7.

The Nittany Lions also protect the ball well, as they rank No. 1 and No. 2 in the nation for fewest turnovers a game and assist-to-turnover ratio with 8.8 and 1.66, respectively. Penn State also uses the free throw line, as it leads the Big Ten in free throw percentage.

Now for the woes.

Penn State is not a great rebounding team. It ranks near the bottom, except in defensive boards, in every statistical category for rebounding in the Big Ten. Even worse, the Nittany Lions are tied with Colorado State with the least amount of offensive rebounds in the nation with 111. The Rams have played two fewer games than the Nittany Lions, too.

Despite being ranked No. 15 nationally and first in the Big Ten in field goal percentage, the Nittany Lions rank at the bottom for free throw attempts per game. Now, this may be a byproduct of the high-volume three-point strategy, but nonetheless, it’s important to note.

Penn State currently sits at No. 38 in the KenPom rankings, and if the season ended today, it would likely be dancing in March for the first time since 2011. However, because it’s still January, there’s plenty more to play out before we can get a clear answer as to where the Nittany Lions will finish.

What’s Next?

With 19 games under their belt, the Nittany Lions are guaranteed 13 more games in the season, which includes the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. Penn State sits in the middle of the Big Ten with a 4-4 record, which is tied with Illinois, Iowa, and Indiana (all of which it beat earlier this season) with nothing but conference play on the horizon.

Time will tell how this season will unfold, but now that you’re up to speed, be sure to tune into the Big Ten Network at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 24, when Penn State dukes it out against Rutgers in Piscataway. Also, be sure to follow along with Onward State’s coverage on the site and @OnwardStSports on Twitter.

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About the Author

Tobey Prime

Tobey is a senior studying broadcast journalism from Lancaster, PA. He is a major Pittsburgh sports fan and Miami Heat fanatic. When Tobey isn't writing for Onward State, you can catch him looking at photos of his pugs. Send your best insults to [email protected] or sports takes to @tobey_prime on Twitter.

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