That was the first time in a long time that we played Wisconsin tough and we had a legitimate chance to win the basketball game. If you would’ve told me that before the game, with the fact that Talor Battle would have his worst game of the season, I’d would have said you are out of your mind.
Stanley Pringle just went off in the 2nd half. I was disappointed with his play in the first half. He clearly could take whoever was defending him (usually J-Bo), but he was reckless in the first half. Had a few good plays, but didn’t drive as often as I felt he should’ve and threw up some ridiculous shots. However, in the second half he couldn’t miss. Bo Ryan was having trouble finding someone to guard him. He tried J Bo, but he was too slow. He put in Rob Wilson, but only briefly because Pringle broke his ankles on his first possession. Jordan Taylor did a pretty good job on him, but Pringle could not be stopped. He finished with 26 points, a career high. 22 of them came in the second half. He also logged 5 boards, 5 assists with only 1 Turnover, a big improvement from his NU performance. In the last 14 minutes of the game, Pringle scored 20 of PSU’s 27 points.
Jamelle Cornley also had a hell of a game. He did a great job getting himself position and finishing. For the first time this season, he really didn’t miss any easy shots. He also drained all 4 of his free throws, which was very encouraging. He was going at it with Marcus Landry. JC finished with 20 points (8-16) and 7 boards.
Battle had his worst game of the season. This was kind of expect, IMO. There was clear evidence that his stats have been accumulated against the scrubs of college basketball. He hadn’t played well against URI and Temple. So I wasn’t surprised to see him struggle for a majority of the game. I was disappointed that he didn’t show up the last 5 minutes like I thought he might. The guy’s shown he’s a gamer, but he didn’t have it yesterday. Missed a pretty big free throw with 13 seconds left that could’ve cut Wisky’s lead to 1. Then whiffed on a steal attempt instead of fouling on the in bounds that all but sealed the game as it allowed Landry to throw it down on the other end. He finished with just 6 points, 7 boards, and 2 assists. While the statsheet says he took 11 shots, I really didn’t think he forced much though. Maybe because he didn’t have the chance since Pringle and Cornley were on fire, but other than maybe 2 or 3, I didn’t think he took any bad shots. At least, not like his freshman year where it could’ve been brick after brick. However, he got it little lazy on D and left Bohannon wide open for a 3 at the buzzer to end the half. That turned out to be killer.
But while Pringle couldn’t miss, neither could Landry. PSU had no answer for him defensively. Cornley tried to keep him from gettin close but that didn’t matter. Landry would just shoot over him. Andrew Jones couldn’t do much either. We forced him into difficult shots, but he still converted. The numbers aren’t going to show it as Wisky put up 110.4 efficiency, but PSU played solid defense. Probably some of the most disciplined D in DeChellis’ era. There was maybe only a handful of breakdowns on rotations, and we forced Wisconsin into tough shots.
The supporting cast around the Big 3 have got to step up. I thought Jeff Brooks had a fine first half, especially defensively, but ED went with DJ Jackson in the 2nd half. DJ wasn’t of much help and he’s still struggling. He didn’t even look like he wanted to shoot the ball. Brooks should’ve got some run in the second half IMO. Jones and Morrissey need to score as well. Those four combined for 84 minutes – 9 points, 9 boards, 1 assist. That’s not going to beat anybody. When JC, TB, and SP are clicking, PSU can beat anybody in the conference. If they’re not though, they’re going to need somebody to step up if they want to win some games. I’m still counting on Jeff Brooks as he’s improved these last 2 games. But he’s got a long ways to go. Andrew Ott is a dud who’s not going to get more than 7 minutes a game.
Some interesting numbers in the box score. Only ten total turnovers were committed in the game – PSU had 6 of them. Both teams combined for just 3 steals. Both teams rebounded well as PSU and Wisconsin both grabbed 80%+ of the defensive rebounds. PSU shot 24-55, Wisconsin shot 24-54. Both teams made 5 threes. PSU actually outblocked Wisconsin 3-2, that has got to be a first. The difference in the game came at the foul line as Wisky made 12 free throws, PSU made 8. Box score here.
So it was tough loss as we didn’t make any plays the last 50 seconds of the game, but it was an encouraging performance. A few less breaks from the officiating crew, and PSU might be sitting here 2-0 in the Big Ten. But it’s like that in every game and everyone in the Big Ten knows, Wisky’s going to get the calls in the Kohl Center.
Now I just want to see some sort of consistency. There’s enough talent on this team to compete night in and night out, so let’s see it. Starts on Tuesday at home against a well-rested Purdue team, who’s ready to get back on track after losing at home to Illinois last week.