It’s senior night in the Bryce Jordan Center tonight when the 4th ranked Michigan Wolverines pay a visit to the 0-14 Nittany Lions. Seniors Nick Colella and Sasa Borovnjak will be honored prior to the game. Tip off is at 6:30 on BTN.
THE LAST TIME OUT
It was a different story, with the same results for Penn State last Thursday evening in snowy Champaign. The Lions played aggressive defense, made more shots than they had, but still came up 5 points short in a hard fought game against the Illini, falling 64-59. This time it was turnovers (15 of them, 7 by acting point guard D.J. Newbill), 56% free throw shooting, and 36 trips to the free throw line for the home team. All told, Illinois would outscore PSU 23-9 from the charity stripe, in what would be the difference in the game. The good news for the Lions was a third straight impressive performance by the graduating Borovnjak (17 points, 6 rebounds), coupled with Jermaine Marshall’s 20 and Newbill’s 13. That marked the third straight game with 3 players in double figures, something not done in the previous 11 contests.
ABOUT THE WOLVERINES
Didn’t we just do this like…10 days ago? When we last saw John Beilein’s crew, they were smarting from a 2 game losing streak, including a waxing at the hands of arch rival Michigan State. It looked like it would be an easy win going in for Michigan against PSU, but the Lions lead for much of the first half, until [redacted] hit a ridiculous floater to tie it at the break. All told, that guy had 29 points to lead his team to a hard fought home win against Penn State. In that game, Glenn Robinson III scored 21 and grabbed 10 rebounds, while fellow freshman Nik Stauskas had 18. Those 2 performances made up for a 3/11, 8 point performance from second leading scorer Tim Hardaway Jr. Michigan played on Sunday, pulling away from Illinois in the second half for a 71-58 win. This is a game Michigan must have, especially after Indiana’s upset loss to Minnesota last night. They find themselves just 1 game back of the Hoosiers in the loss column, and end the regular season with them at Crisler Center.
Penn State probably caught Michigan a little off guard a week and a half ago. That’s hardly surprising, given where each team found itself. Don’t count on that happening again, however. Penn State will need to continue their improved shooting, while finding a way to hang onto the ball. On the defensive end, they did a decent job of challenging Michigan’s prolific outside shooters, especially early on, and will need to match that, as Michigan shoots 40% from three. I expect the Lions to play an inspired game, on both ends, but they just don’t have the talent to match up with a team as talented as Michigan.
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