No upset this year, but it was darn close. While PSU managed to do absolutely nothing for the first 30 minutes of the game, Talor Battle and Jamelle Cornley almost willed this team to one of the greatest comebacks this program has ever had.
Unfortunately, they played like crap to put themselves in that position. PSU didn’t know that the tipoff was at 6:30 apparently, as they came out and played one-on-one offense for the first minutes of the game. It had the feel of that 2007 PSU/MSU game, where a huge crowd attended, only to watch PSU get completely dominated. They lost that game 91-64. I still remember how dejected coach DeChellis sounded in his postgame interview. “This is the biggest egg we’ve ever laid since I’ve been here”. Anywho, back to the present. PSU got down 8-0, and 12-5 at the first media TO.
Then on PSU’s first possession out of the TO, it looked like the same BS all over again. Until Danny Morrissey regained the ball at the top of the key with the shot-clock winding down as his defender fell trying to steal the ball. He swished an open look that PSU really didn’t work for. Somehow, that got the offense going and PSU looked like a competent basketball team for all of about 5 minutes, actually getting a 22-16 lead on a Chris Babb three.
But rebounding woes really plagued the Nittany Lions. They just couldn’t keep the bigger Spartans off the offensive glass. MSU finished with 15 offensive rebounds to PSU’s 17 defensive rebounds. That is not a good ratio, at all. MSU finished the first half on a 24-6 run, turning an 18-23 deficit into a comfortable 42-29 lead.
It was back and forth for most of the second half, as MSU stretched their lead all the way to 17 at 56-39 with 13 and change to go. The crowd was getting restless, and I just assumed that MSU would pour it on. But for some reason, that didn’t happen. Coach D finally switched it up on defense and threw some 2-3 and 1-3-1 zones at the Spartans. No one stepped up for Sparty. It’s not like our zone defense is anything special. We did a decent job of limiting their second chances. MSU just didn’t make a shot, outside of Suton.
So while MSU was struggling, Talor Battle and Jamelle Cornley took over, with a little help from Stanley (who’s shooting percentages continue to ‘progress towards the mean’). PSU found themselves down 10 with 5 minutes to go. That’s when I looked to my buddy and said “We need a Stanley Pringle 3”, as Stanley hadn’t been much of a factor in the game. Lo and behold, Stan the Hand (thanks Rokk) was draino from the far corner. Then Battle grabbed a defensive board and raced all the way down the court for a layup. He beat Travis Walton down the floor, who is one of the league’s best defensive guards. The BJC was as loud as ever in recent memory. Destiny started to creep into my mind. Talor Battle is a special player, who proved last year, he’s going to have the biggest say in the last 5 minutes if PSU is going to win close games. After a Battle penetrate and dish to Jamelle for a layup, and a deep Battle 3, PSU cut MSU’s lead down to 1 with 90 seconds to go. After the usual timeout-free throw gigs that happen at the end of every close college basketball game, PSU found themselves down 2 points with 25 seconds to go. DeChellis had one timeout left and decided to not use it. He wanted Talor Battle to make the play. Frankly, I totally agree with the decision for the fact that I don’t have a clue what DeChellis would’ve done if he called TO. He’s failed so many times in drawing up situations for these in the past.
Whether Talor Battle got tripped on that possession is still unknown. MSU fans no doubt think it was a good no-call, PSU fans probably disagree. It looked worse from where I was sitting, but after seeing the replay it was a 50-50 call. In a game that had another absurd amount of fouls (48 combined) in similar fashion to last year, it was disappointing that it wasn’t called. Kind of took the wind out of me after enjoying Talor Battle’s electrifying comeback against the conference’s best. That turnover inevitably struck up the Kalin Lucas is better than Talor Battle press, but there’s no way this guy would ever take Lucas over Battle on my team.
Gotta give a shoutout to Jamelle Cornley’s performance. Career high 26 points, none of which came easy. He left it all out on the floor and it was tough seeing the senior’s efforts go unrewarded.