New look lineup powers Penn State Basketball to huge 83-61 win over Michigan

Jalen Pickett #22 of the Penn State Nittany Lions (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Jalen Pickett #22 of the Penn State Nittany Lions (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) /

Penn State Basketball got a much-needed win on Sunday over Michigan.

The Penn State Basketball stars came to play in a dominate 83-61 home win over the Michigan Wolverines that featured a brand new starting lineup for the Nittany Lions.

Pickett, Lundy, and Funk all started like normal, but instead of Wynter and Kebba joining them it was Caleb Dorsey and Mikey Henn. This was likely to combat Michigan’s star center Hunter Dickinson by having Henn be the primary defender on Hunter while Dorsey aggressively helped to force passes and make things uncomfortable inside. This new strategy worked to perfection, holding Dickinson to 6 points and 2 rebounds on just 3-9 shooting from the field. It also did not hurt the offense as Henn scored 10 points, knocked down 2 threes, and had some beautiful backdoor assists off fake dribble handoff sets.

The true story on offense though was the senior trio of Pickett, Lundy, and Funk. Pickett finished with 25 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists. He completely controlled the game all night, starting with his scoring as him and Michigan freshman Jett Howard went back and forth both scoring 15 fast to provide almost all the offense for their teams. Once the Michigan defense adjusted to sending more help to Pickett he focused on getting his teammates involved which helped the offense explode heading into the break. Penn State finished on a 18-2 run to end the half thanks to some huge threes from Henn, Lundy, and Funk that put the Nittany Lions up 49-32 to end the half.

Lundy and Funk kept the scoring rolling in the second half with more threes, hard drives, and some back door cuts. Funk finished with 19 points and 7 rebounds while Lundy racked up 22 points and 7 rebounds as well. Penn State Basketball just kept the pressure up in the second half, extending the lead to 31 by the 11 minute mark. Like in most of the wins on the season the three point shooting was a huge reason for this. As a team Penn State hit 13 threes on 30 attempts for a very good 43% from deep. These included some deep movement threes from Funk as he really found a rhythm at the end of the half, and a very deep turnaround form Dread as the shot clock expired to help kickoff the late first half run.

This was the most experienced rotation Coach Shrews has run with the entire season. Until a group of freshman came in with under a minute left Kebba Njie was the only player younger than a Junior to play. Even he only played 10 minutes even though he had a nice bounceback game after a tough game against Rutgers. He played good defense against all the bigs he faced including Hunter Dickinson and grabbed 3 rebounds. Beside him and junior Caleb Dorsey the rest of the rotation was all seniors and you could tell by their play. They rarely made mistakes on either end and played very under control all game. It wasn’t all positive differences however. The offense missed the rim pressure Kanye Clary can provide when the threes were not falling and the defense missed the chaotic energy of Evan Mahaffey when Michigan would go on runs.

When the stars of the team play well and they hit their threes this is an extremely hard team to beat. The stars aligned today for both those things to happen and the result is a huge 22 point against a very talented Michigan team led today by future first round pick Jett Howard. Penn State forced Michigan’s role players to beat them today and they just could not keep up with the blistering pace of the Nittany Lion offense when Funk and Lundy are hitting their shots.

Penn State Basketball will look to carry this momentum and shooting into Wednesday night when the face off against #1 ranked Purdue in West Lafayette. The game is at 6:30 PM EST and on the Big Ten Network.