Boy, what a game. Gani Lawal is redonkulous. I mean, I know PSU is short/weak up front but my goodness is that dude versatile. He has such an arrangement of weapons in his offensive arsenal. He was flat out unstoppable. 15-20 from the floor? 34 points? What an individual performance.
But what might be more impressive is the fact that PSU got dominated inside all game along, and we came away with a huge 85-83 win. Stanley Pringle was absolutely magnificent all game long, but who stepped up for us when we needed some points? Danny Morrissey. He came off the bench with about 7-8 minutes left in the game and hit 3 clutch, open jumpers (2 from behind the arc).
Definitely a big road win, but the complete chokejob the last 2 minutes left a lot to be desired. We missed all three frontends of 1 and 1s, by arguably our two best free throw shooters. Then Jamelle Cornley missed 2 foul shots with 5 seconds left to end the game. Tech got a decent 30 footer at the horn to win the game, after PSU was up comfortably (3 possessions) from about 7 minutes left to 1:20 left. All we had to do was hit free throws and we would’ve probably won by double digits. We know our team sucks at the charity stripe, especially Jamelle, but DJ and Talor’s misses were disheartening. DJ’s decision to pass up on a breakaway layup in favor of running clock and getting to the foul line, certainly left a lot of Lions, especially coach DeChellis, frustrated.
Transition defense was awful all night. When PSU finally started to extend their lead near the end of the second half, GT would come straight down the court and score within 7 seconds. It eventually led to a Jamelle Cornley ‘what the fuck are ya’ll doin’, that was audible on the broadcast. Interior defense was bad, as well, but considering GT’s frontcourt, I’m not too worried. I don’t think any frontcourt in the Big Ten is as good as athletic and talented as theirs (maybe OSU’s once Mullens gets going).
PSU had just 6 turnovers for the game. That’s an even more impressive number, considering the number of possessions in the game. Stanley Pringle has improved so much, I don’t think even he knows how good he is. He’s so quick he can take anybody one-on-one, and he’s got that jumpstop that allows him to get around any one in the lane. He finished 22 points (9-14, 2-3 from 3), 3 assists, 4 steals, and 1 board. He hit a lot of clutch shots when it appeared PSU’s offense was going to stall a bit.
Battle didn’t have a great shooting night, but he was setting guys up left and right, finishing with 7 assists. He also had a strech where he scored 8 straight points in the second half. Other than that missed one-and-one, he played great, once again. He finished with 18 points, 7 assists, and 4 boards.
Jeff Brooks and Andrew Jones, I mentioned how important they were in the pregame, and they delivered. Maybe not on the defensive end, but it’s tough to guard an NBA lottery pick one on one. Coach DeChellis has expressed how uncomfortable Jeff has looked early in the season, claiming the concussion and sprained ankle he has suffered has really hampered him in the early going. He missed a lot of practice time and coach thought that was a huge reason why he couldn’t get in the flow of things. Jeff seems to be putting it together over the last week, averaging 6.7 PPG and 4.7 RPG in 18 MPG off the bench. He made several big plays, including a big, contested 3 from the corner. His confidence is growing and he’s showing signs of being a serious player this season. Jones did a fabulous job of staying out of foul trouble. He finished with 8 points and 7 boards, including a huge stickback off an offensive rebound in the second half. He struggled defensively, but like I said, GT had some serious talent.
Good win, but there were so many mistakes, the coaches will certainly have some ammo to keep these guys motivated through a pretty lackluster schedule the rest of the way. We have a big game against Temple on Saturday, but they’ve struggled this season. The blue unis won’t be making an appearance again until after the Rose Bowl.
BILLY OLIVER UPDATE: Seems like a redshirt is imminent. He still hasn’t been cleared for full contact activities in practice, and DeChellis doesn’t expect he will be until at least this time next week. By then, Andrew Ott will only be a game or two away from eligibility.