Game Grades: Penn State vs. Michigan State
The Nittany Lions laid an egg to start the second semester by way of a 92-65 beatdown at the hands of No. 5 Michigan State. Bryn Forbes led the way with 20 points for the Spartans (16-1, 3-1) while Denzel Valentine added 10 in his return from a knee injury. Shep Garner paced Penn State (10-7, 1-3) with 19 points, but it was all for naught as the Lions suffered their worst defeat of the season.
Shep Garner was one of the few bright spots in this game for Penn State on both sides of the ball, leading the team in scoring while shooting 50 percent from the field and adding two steals and a block on the defensive end. He simply couldn’t get any help from Josh Reaves, who is still having trouble finding his groove in his freshman season. Reaves took only two shots for one point while turning the ball over five times. The backcourt defense was simply horrendous, allowing Bryn Forbes and Eron Harris to score 33 points combined, helping to contribute to the 10-20 performance from downtown for the Spartans.
Once again, Jordan Dickerson spent most of the game on the bench in foul trouble, stepping on the court for only seven minutes of action. Julian Moore and Donovon Jack were therefore forced to share the bulk of the minutes at center and they just couldn’t hang with the likes of Costello, Schilling, and Deyonta Davis inside. Michigan State did a stellar job of sharing the ball and finding easy buckets while the Nittany Lion defenders quite plainly forgot how to defend. They were outrebounded on both ends of the court, but struggled especially on the defensive end, surrendering 12 offensive rebounds which led to 18 second chance points for the Spartans.
Luckily for the backups, this game was over halfway through the first half which gave plenty of opportunity for guys like Devin Foster and Deividas Zemgulis to log 20+ minutes. Foster and the aforementioned Moore both scored in double figures which, if anything, hopefully means this team is starting to rely less completely on the shoulders of Taylor and Garner.
It’s unacceptable to give up 92 points in a game no matter how high the level of competition is. Patrick Chambers once again proved that this team cannot hang with the big boys in the Big Ten. The defense was dismal, allowing backdoor cuts and not playing any help defense as well as giving up several threes because Michigan State was able to penetrate the defense and kick the ball out so easily. The offense was no better, oftentimes settling for off-balance shots and missing multiple layups. This is twice now in Big Ten play alone that they’ve followed up a decent performance (albeit blowing a lead at Maryland) with a blowout loss. This team just can’t find any consistency and they appear to still be several years away from contention in this conference. By no means is it an easy job to succeed in the Big Ten or play on the same level as a Michigan State-type team, but Chambers is going to have to string a few more wins together if he wants to keep his job past 2016.
Tom Shively is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.