Penn State Basketball fought hard many times throughout the game to either come close or tie it up, but in the end, Michigan was able to answer every run en route to a 79-69 victory in Ann Arbor.
Michigan held an 8-point lead after a tough shooting first half for the Nittany Lions. Penn State Basketball had some uncharacteristic turnovers and Michigan took full advantage to get the PSU defense out of position and capitalize on the mismatches. The second half can best be described as a trading of runs. Penn State went on the first one, tying the game at 47 with about 15 minutes left in the game. Michigan immediately answered with a 11-point run to make the game 61-47 with 11:20 left. After some back-and-forth Penn State went on another that was capped off with an Andrew Funk three to cut the lead to 3 with about 4 minutes left. Penn State continued to generate good shots down the stretch but could not capitalize. Michigan, on the other hand, could capitalize, going on one final small run to close out the game.
Michigan played a very strong offensive game and really took it to the Penn State defense that is normally very stout. They shot 47% from the field and 42% from three on mostly good looks. They played an aggressive inside out offensive game to take advantage of the smaller Penn State lineup, and were able to capolitze on Penn State sending doubles to the post by knocking down their outside shots. The Wolverines were led by junior big man Hunter Dickinson. He scored 17 points and 6 rebounds along with some great defense. Michigan also got a big boost from their freshman guards, with Jett Howard getting 14 points and 7 rebounds and Dug McDaniel had 12 points and hit a floater with 1 minute left to seal the game.
A common theme is occurring with most of Penn State’s losses this year and that has been bad shooting from outside. This game they only hit 9 threes and shot 32% from deep. Most of the struggles from outside came from Andrew Funk. He shot 1-8 from three and just could never catch a rhythm on offense. At times he seemed to be forcing shots, taking no dip threes with more than 10 seconds on the shot clock with a hand in his face. Besides him Seth Lundy struggled at times. He ended with a good game but some of the shots were not in the rhythm in the offense and created good fast break opportunities for the Wolverines off long rebounds. Penn State lost the turnover battle significantly which is the opposite of how the season has gone so far.
Not everything was bad however. Myles Dread hit a three midway through the first half that pushed him over 1000 points for his Penn State career, an amazing milestone for the senior. Jalen Pickett had another fantastic game, and is honestly the only reason it was not a blowout. He finished with 26 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists. He used his size advantage well all night and knocked down 2 huge threes when the game was starting to slip away. Cam Wynter hit some big shots down the stretch and controlled the offense well for most of the game. Evan Mahaffey came off the bench and provided some really nice small center minutes on both ends, having 2 monstrous dunks and hitting a near half court buzzer beater to end the first half.
Penn State Basketball will have the chance to rebound this Sunday January 8th, at 6pm against one loss Purdue. This is a listed home game for the Nittany Lions, but it will be played at the historic Palestra Arena in Philadelphia.