Penn State Basketball’s magical run comes to an end in the round of 32 as the Nittany Lions fall to the Texas Longhorns, 71-66.
Coming off of the hot shooting night against Texas A&M, Penn State Basketball would find themselves on the opposite end of the spectrum tonight against Texas. Despite some late game heroics from the Nittany Lions, the Longhorns’ athleticism and length would be too much to overcome.
Once again, the preview for this game did a good job of predicting how the game would be played. Dylan Disu’s size and touch around the rim was difficult to stop for Penn State. The senior forward went off for 28 points and 10 rebounds, a huge improvement from his 8.5 ppg and 4 rebound averages.
The start of this game was very sloppy and Penn State Basketball couldn’t buy a basket. Pickett started the night with 3 quick turnovers while Funk was 0 for 3 from the field and Penn State had just 6 total points.
The three point shots weren’t falling early and Penn State had to adjust. That’s when Cam Wynter started driving into the lane and looking for his midrange shot to get the Nittany Lions back into the game.
Texas’ defense was giving Penn State fits for most of the first half. Pickett couldn’t get going, and the Penn State offense had just 1 assist the entire half. Myles Dread would hit the only 2 three-pointers of the half as the Nittany Lions went just 2 of 13 from deep.
The second half was a different story though. The offense finally got going and the game turned into a shootout as neither defense could get a stop. Dread hit a few more threes, Funk finally got going, and the Nittany Lions were poised for a comeback as we’ve seen so many times this past month.
At the U8 timeout, the score was 55-48 and Penn State already had more points this half than the entire first half. Suddenly the Nittany Lions went on an 8-0 run to take the lead. Then an errant pass for Texas ended up in the backcourt and Seth Lundy out-hustled two Texas players to get a breakaway layup.
However, that would be the last run of the game for Penn State. Disu would score from the elbow to stop the run. Then Disu would score again to give Texas the lead again. Then Disu again to extend the lead. Disu would score 10 points in the final 4:30 of the game as he just completely took over. Most of these shots were from the block with a smaller defender guarding him.
On the offensive end, Penn State Basketball was getting good looks at the basket but the shots just weren’t falling. It was an unfortunate time to go cold for a team that excelled all year from deep. The Nittany Lions would finish the game shooting just 29% from 3.
Of course, no Penn State game is complete without some late game dramatics. Down 7, Seth Lundy is fouled on a three point shot which he makes and then converts the and-1 for a 4 point play. The lead is down to one possession with seconds remaining. Unfortunately, Marcus Carr would sink both free throws and ice the game.
It was a gusty effort from Penn State on a night when they clearly didn’t have their best shooting performance. The role players did a great job stepping up for a struggling Pickett. But the powerhouse Longhorns were too much to overcome.
This team has a lot to be proud of. First NCAA tournament appearance since 2011. First NCAA tournament win since 2001. Going toe to toe with a dominant Texas team. Now we’re onto the offseason and waiting for the good news that Shrewsberry is staying in Happy Valley.