Game Grades: Penn State vs. Michigan State
The 15-14 Penn State Nittany Lions took on the 24-5 Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing, Michigan Sunday afternoon. The Nittany Lions got off to a very slow start and were unable to recover from it. To make matters worse, three key players for Penn State got into serious foul trouble, which eventually led to them fouling out of the game. Head coach Pat Chambers was ejected with four minutes left in the first half. Although Penn State had a small run to cut the lead to 15 at the start of the second half, it didn’t affect Michigan State. The sixth ranked Spartans cruised to a victory over the Nittany Lions 88-57.
The Penn State backcourt had a lot to handle during this contest. Not being able to score is frustrating enough, but having to deal with Denzel Valentine and sharp shooter Bryn Forbes didn’t make matters better. Although Shep Garner was able to drop 22 points, he had a series of cold spells throughout the contest where Penn State needed a basket the most. Josh Reeves, who recently returned to the lineup after being out for some time with mono, was only able to score eight points.
The Penn State frontcourt took a serious beating from the Spartans. Only Payton Banks was able to score in double figures. As for Jordan Dickerson and Brandon Taylor, they combined for only two points. They got into early foul trouble and were unable to get into a rhythm. They both eventually fouled out, which took away one of the Nittany Lions top scorers in Taylor and a defensive presence in Dickerson. What really stood out in this contest was the rebounding differential. The Nittany Lions were out rebounded 51-33 and 17 of those Spartan rebounds were of the offensive kind, which led to a ton of second chance points. This only speaks to the lack of hustle of the front court compared to Michigan State’s. Even when they were up by 20, the Spartans frontcourt was diving for every loose ball and outmuscling anyone that stood in their way for a rebound.
The bench for the Nittany Lions wasn’t able to pick up any of the slack when the starters were struggling. Devin Foster was only one of two players that scored off the bench. He played to his strengths by getting to the basket, which at times opened the door for open shooters or drew fouls and got to the line. Unfortunately, the Spartan defense was too tough to break down and get easy baskets. This led to many players, including Foster, to shoot deep threes or contested jump shots. Donovon Jack got into early foul trouble and eventually fouled out of the contest. This was detrimental to the Nittany Lions because Jack was one of their most aggressive rebounders. The rest of the bench didn’t do much, which still is one of the major problems this team has.
Up to this point, head coach Pat Chambers has done a great job helping this young team mesh together and finding their identity. As of right now, Chambers has led the Nittany Lions to one of their best conference seasons, going 6-10, which included huge wins against eighth ranked Iowa and 18th ranked Indiana. This a great step in the right direction for the future of this team. However, the reason for this low grade was the fact the Chambers was ejected with four minutes left in the first half. At the time of the ejection, Penn State was down 35-18 and the morale of the team was all over the place. With Chambers getting ejected, the team continued to play flustered for the rest of the game.
Carlos Flores is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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