Game Grades: Nebraska
The Penn State Men’s Basketball team took on Nebraska in their regular season finale, and it was not pretty.
The Nittany Lions beat the Cornhuskers at home in their previous matchup but faced different circumstances this time around. Nebraska’s revamped starting lineup, and Mike Watkins' absence from the lineup, after injuring his knee against Michigan, proved to be too much for the Nittany Lions to overcome on the road.
Nebraska defeated the Nittany Lions 76-64.
Penn State was horrendous offensively. It finished the first half with 17 points, which was well short of their previous season low of 25. Though they were substantially better in the second half and scored 47 points, the performance still was not worthy of much more than a failing grade.
The Nittany Lions had three starters in double figures with Tony Carr tallying 27, while Lamar Stevens and Shep Garner chipped in 13 and 11 respectively.
Carr scoring 27 might look good to someone until they see that he shot just nine of 23 from the field and two of seven from beyond the arc.
The offense looked disjointed and disinterested. Many possessions wound up with Stevens or Carr getting the ball late in the shot clock and having to work for a few seconds just to get a shot off. If those two players weren’t good at creating their own shot, this game could have been even worse.
Some of the more dismal stats that jumped out in this game were the Nittany Lions’ assist count only reaching six, and their free throw shooting percentage finishing at just 63.2. Much more went wrong offensively, but these few numbers alone make it very hard for any team to win.
The Nittany Lion defense was far from spectacular for most of the game, but they somehow managed to hold Nebraska to 76 points.
Similar to the first contest, Nebraska’s talisman, James Palmer Jr., was held in check. He managed 11 points, a bit more than the first contest, but still a very low total by his standards.
With that being said, Penn State still allowed big performances from Isaac Copeland and Isaiah Roby. Copeland scored 17 points and had 12 rebounds. He also started the game’s first possession by easily driving Julian Moore and throwing down a thunderous jam that would be a good indicator of how the rest of the game would go. Roby had 13 points, seven boards and caused the Nittany Lions fits by going inside and tapping out several rebounds.
There was a decent spell where the Penn State press had Nebraska rattled, but outside of that, there wasn’t much to be happy about. Penn State didn’t look like they wanted any of Nebraska on the defensive end.
There wasn’t all that much Pat Chambers could have done in this game except yell. Short of lighting a fire under his team, which didn’t seem feasible with their body language, there wasn’t much he could have done differently.
The team knew about Nebraska’s home court advantage and knew how big of a loss Mike Watkins was, and it didn’t respond well.
The one good adjustment Chambers made that helped was throwing a press at Nebraska in the second half. While it helped, it wasn’t enough to get Penn State close enough to make a play at the Nebraska lead.
These are just the kinds of games coaches know will happen at some point, and dread the prospect of the game is important. Unfortunately for Chambers, this was just one of those games.
Patrick Murphy is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.