Once again, Tim Frazier just could not get enough help on the offensive end for Penn State to pull out the victory. The junior guard and Penn State’s most valuable player by leaps and bounds scored 19 points on 6 of 18 shooting to go with 7 assists and 5 rebounds, but he was also pressured into 6 turnovers and Michigan State pulled away at the end to win 77-57.
Jermaine Marshall netted 10 of his 12 points in the second half and coach Pat Chambers saw his team battle to within five points of the lead in the second half, but Draymond Green and the Spartans overcame the scare and ended up winning handily. Green proved too quick for Penn State double teams down the stretch and battled through the Nittany Lion defense for two and-one buckets in the final 10 minutes of the game. The senior forward and leader of the Spartans also showed off his distribution skills with a nifty pass out of the low post to find freshman Branden Dawson for a layup and the foul. The conversion brought the Michigan State lead back up to 68-52 and put the outcome beyond doubt.
Green finished with 23 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists, while Dawson added 12 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals for Michigan State. After the Spartans took a 33-19 lead into the half, they appeared poised to run away with the game after Dawson followed an Austin Thornton three-point jumper with a steal off of a lazy Tim Frazier pass. Dawson cruised in for a layup to put Michigan State ahead by 18 points.
However, Penn State would finally kick their offense into high gear moments later. Nick Collela knocked down a trey from the left wing to get things started and Marshall blew past his defender for a three-point play. Two possessions later, Marshall spun off his man in the post for an easy layup and suddenly Penn State was down by just 11. Michigan State freshman guard Travis Trice hit a jumper to crash the Nittany Lion party, but Penn State would keep the run going until Marshall hit an 18-footer to bring Penn State with five at 52-47.
The rest of the game was all Michigan State, but at least Penn State found some sort of offense in the second half. In the first 20 minutes, there was next to nothing going on for the Lions. Penn State started the game without any sort of effort to get the ball inside. They shot 0 for their first 6, which included 5 three-point attempts. Frazier and Marshall were limited to mostly awkward, driving floaters that had little chance of going in. Finally Collela put in a three-pointer to make the score 9-3 Spartans with just over 12 minutes left in the half, but that didn’t do much to ignite anything significant. For the first half, Penn State was beyond lousy with just 5 of 24 field goals made (2 of 12 on threes).
At least Penn State played good defense to keep themselves in the game while their offense was in a pathetic rut. Although Michigan State dominated on the offensive boards to gain additional scoring attempts, Penn State was could about double-teaming to prevent Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne from having their way in the paint. Early on, Michigan State missed on a lot of three-pointers to keep the Lions hanging in there early, but eventually they converted enough second chances to take a double digit lead into the half.
Nittany Lion Player Review
Tim Frazier: 33% from the field isn’t good, and neither are 6 turnovers, but these are things that are hard for Tim Frazier to avoid when he constantly has the ball on his hands and is hounded by one of the nation’s top defenses. Frazier got so frustrated in the first half that he resorted to a couple of three-point attempts, which, of course did not go in. In the second half, Marshall and Sasa Borovnjak began to help out a little more and Frazier got the breathing room he needed to knock down a couple of 15-footers before the Lions finally succumbed to the Michigan State onslaught. It was a good game for Frazier when you consider he had to take on such a beastly defense without a ton of help.
Jermaine Marshall: Marshall can be frustrating at times because of his affinity for bad shots, but he can also flash brilliance, which is what he did during Penn State’s 11-0 second half run that brought the game back into contention. With his ability to be an athletic finisher, it’s clear now that Marshall needs to spend more effort on getting to the rim and less setting up himself for long distance shots. You know he’s not applying himself correctly because he has exactly zero free throw attempts in his last two games before this one.
Nick Collela: Chambers stuck Collela in the starting lineup versus Michigan State in an effort to reportedly put the “most efficient team on the floor.” Although Collela did what he was supposed to do and went 3 of 8 from the field with 9 points, the epically inefficient start to which Penn State got off on suggests that further tinkering with the starting five is required.
Cammeron Woodyard: Despite playing 23 minutes, the replaceable senior was more or less invisible for the entire game. He did knock down a pair of three-pointers to get his 6 points, but one of them was at the beginning of the second half when the game appeared to be over, and one was with two minutes left in the half, when the game actually was over. Woodyard even managed to commit just one personal foul in a game that saw Penn State get hammered with 26 foul calls against them. It’s a good thing there’s not a triple bonus, but it’s a bad thing that Woodyard continues to get so many minutes.
Jon Graham: Graham posted up and made a layup over Spartan bench warmer Anthony Ianni in the final minute of the game. Those were 2 of his 3 points on the night. Okay, I’ve already beat it into the ground that Graham isn’t a very good scorer at this point in his career, but only 4 rebounds in 23 minutes is also very bad considering that is the one main skill he brings to the table. Graham did have a lot on his plate in this game, what with Michigan State’s roster overflowing with big men and all. He racked up four fouls going up against the Spartan heavies.
Sasa Borovnjak: Someday Borovnjak is going to spread his wings and become a double digit scorer out of the post, but until then we will have to watch games like this in which he doesn’t miss a shot, but also rarely sees the ball. In the first half, Borovnjak got the ball in the post and executed a head fake beautifully to get Derrick Nix in the air to draw a foul. Although, both free throws were no good, the important thing right now is the post technique. In the second half, Borovnjak showed some power by going right through Adreian Payne for his first bucket in the post. Later, he beat Green on the baseline on a play in which he appeared to have no room to maneuver himself into shooting position. Two more points. On another play, Borovnjak rolled to the basket after setting a pick and Frazier hit him with a bounce pass that he picked up, and while getting fouled put the ball in the hoop with his left hand. Borovnjak was in foul trouble like the rest of the team and played just 17 minutes, but at least give the guy a chance to miss a shot.
The rest of them: Ross Travis came on late in both halves. He looked good on defense in the first, but in the second he was made a fool of by Draymond Green. Not the worst thing in the world, considering Green is a top five player in the country. On offense, Travis had a really nice baseline drive for a layup midway through the second half (while the game was in its exciting phase). Mostly though, he still looks pretty lost on offense.
Matt Glover only got to play 7 minutes in this one. He was 0 for 1 from the floor with 2 rebounds. There was a horrifying stretch at the end of the first half when Chambers removed Frazier (who had two fouls on him) and Glover was forced to bring the ball up the floor. Yikes.
Billy Oliver played 11 minutes and missed two three pointers. That is all. I’m hoping his reduced playing time was because of ineffectiveness and not because of the horrible repeated concussion issues he has had to suffer through. I really hope he can finally be cured of those issues and that Chambers can sit him down while he’s perfectly healthy.