Game Grades: Men’s Basketball vs. Wake Forest
Penn State represented the Big Ten well in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Wednesday, defeating Wake Forest 76-54 and improving their all-time record in the challenge to 10-9.
The Nittany Lions dominated the Demon Deacons (5-4) in all phases of the game and improve to 7-1 on the season. Let’s hand out some game grades, and see exactly how each individual unit performed:
If we were to separate this grade into two single grades, Penn State’s half-court offense would receive a C+ and the transition offense would receive an A+.
Penn State’s offense in transition was where the majority of the points were scored. The Nittany Lions were unstoppable running the floor. The half-court offense for Penn State, however, stunted at times. The Nittany Lions shot a brutally inefficient 5-for-28 from three and turned the ball over 14 times.
However, despite some of the struggles, Penn State did an excellent job at controlling the tempo and, every time Wake Forest threatened, the Nittany Lions answered in one way or another.
Myreon Jones drained 3-of-5 from three and finished with a career-high 22 points. Izaiah Brockington also provided a nice spark off the bench, shooting 5-for-9 from the field and amplifying the team late in the game with a couple of emphatic dunks.
Penn State’s defense has been completely and utterly dominant all season long, yet tonight may have been the unit’s best performance to date. The defense was active on every possession, forcing 20 Wake Forest turnovers which ultimately turned into offense on the other end of the floor. Everyone was contributing, contesting jump shots, cutting off passing lanes, not allowing easy buckets, and Wake Forest couldn’t get anything fluid going offensively all game.
The effort and hustle of the group continues to stick out. Ferocious, aggressive defense seems to be shaping up as the identity of this Penn State team.
Twelve of Wake Forest’s 20 turnovers were steals. Lamar Stevens led the team with four and all starters from the Nittany Lions recorded at least one – excluding Jamari Wheeler, which is surprising considering he’s probably the most menacing defender of the entire group. His help-side defense was tremendous all night, and even though it doesn’t directly show up in the stat sheets, it has a huge impact on the game.
Wake Forest’s superstar Brandon Childress was kept in-check. He was held to a measly one point on 0-for-7 shooting. Penn State also clamped down on Wake Forest’s pick-and-roll. The Demon Deacons simply weren’t able to adjust to the tenacity and aggressiveness that Penn State was playing with. Seven-foot center Olivier Sarr was the leading scorer for the Demon Deacons with 14, however most of his points came after the game was out of reach for his team.
Both teams came in as great rebounding groups, but Penn State won the battle on the boards convincingly. Penn State absolutely dominated Wake Forest on the glass, out-rebounding the Demon Deacons 52-33. Mike Watkins tallied 16 of those boards, en route to the 800th of his career at Penn State.
Pat Chambers and the coaching staff are due a lot of credit. Outside of the blunder versus Ole Miss, Pat Chambers continues to show that he really knows this team well and how to handle in-game situations.
To stress the team’s effort and intensity once again, which was on full display versus Wake Forest, it says a lot about Chambers’ leadership that his players are not only ready but willing to rally around him, and give it their all each and every game.
Zach Donaldson is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.