If Thursday’s listless performance at home against very beatable Northwestern was Penn State’s low point, then today’s 60-42 loss in Mackey Arena to Purdue would best be described as running aground. The intensity level was raised significantly, but a team that struggles to score could not take advantage of numerous second and third chances. Perhaps most troubling for Pat Chambers’ squad was the number of quality looks generated that did not fall.
PSU took advantage of aggressive offensive rebounding to overcome the poor shooting in the first half, before Purdue was able to open up a 30-19 lead as time ran down in the first half. With just over a second remaining, Brandon Taylor would let go a high arcing shot from beyond half court that caught nothing but net to draw the Lions to within 8 at the break. Taylor lead PSU with 11 points in the first half, including 3 of 6 three point shooting. Taylor was by far the most aggressive Lion on the offensive end, and was able to stay out of foul trouble on the defensive end. Jermaine Marshall contributed 6, but leading scorer D.J. Newbill was held scoreless in the first half.
The second half got off to a very slow start for both teams, as it was just 36-28 at the under-12 minute media timeout. Purdue would take over from that point on as their shots started to fall, while PSU couldn’t hang onto the ball, or find a way to convert even the easiest of scoring chances. Taylor was held scoreless in the 2nd half, and Newbill did not get onto the scoreboard until there was less than 8 minutes left.
Taylor’s 11 first half points would lead PSU for the game as well, and Newbill finished with 9. The Lions were a dismal 25.9% from the field (15/58) and just 3 of 12 from beyond the arc. Plenty of those misses were from inside 5 feet and uncontested, but did not fall.
It seems clear that the Lions are beginning to press on the offensive end. They have forced up plenty of ill advised shots, and when they find themselves with an open look, they tighten up. There is very little confidence from anyone in the blue and white jerseys, and it will not get any easier. Michigan State visits the Jordan Center on Wednesday night, followed by a home date with Nebraska, and then a trip to Bloomington, before hosting Ohio State. Pat Chambers and his staff are going to need to find some answers against some of the best teams in the country.