We know there are going to be nights where Talor Battle can’t score 20+ points. But PSU showed last night that they could score just fine without Talor being the one to put it through the hoop. After a sluggish first half, PSU came out and blew the game wide open with a 29-6 run in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
At halftime, I was concerned despite a one point lead (thanks to Battle’s buzzer-beating layup). The Colonials were clearly more active, outhustling the Lions on more than a few occasions. They collected 7 offensive rebounds in the first half (41.1% OReb%), including a monster tip jam from reserve Lijah Thompson. PSU was in a dogfight and there was no evidence that anything would change in the second half. Battle was frustrated and he had played the whole first half. So much for my hopes of him getting rest…
But the Lions came out much more focused and energetic in the second half – props to the coaching staff. Robert Morris didn’t know what hit them. Chris Babb was the main contributor in the run. After sitting with 2 fouls again for much of the first half, Babb spotted up for 4 threes in 5 minutes, 2 of them coming in transition. These streaks by Babb are what we know he is capable of. He can score a lot in a hurry, especially with his high release point that makes his jumpshot practically indefensible.
The hot start to the 2nd half really deflated the Colonials, and DeChellis was able to empty the bench. Battle was given 12 minutes of needed rest before the 3 game stretch in 4 days in South Carolina.
Some tempo-free analysis:
Penn State was lights out again from the floor, hitting 28-54 from the field (12-26 from deep). The Lions were also much more active on the offensive glass, as I expected. The defensive rebounding improved in the second half to overcome the atrocious 41.1% RMU posted in the first half. The defense, though, continues to have the awesome ability of not being able to force turnovers. The Colonials were credited with 9 turnovers in the game and about 3 of them were completely unforced passes out of bounds.
EDIT: They fixed the play-by-play. Well, sort of. Battle is no longer credited with a turnover, and they correctly gave the TO to the Robert Morris player. However, Talor never did get credited for a steal. Weird.
- Talor Battle – finished with 8 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds. Despite shooting just 2-9 from the floor, he was still able to contribute in other areas. It’s amazing though how much of a struggle it is for him to hit an open jumper. Frazier set him up nicely a few times, and Battle clearly was not used to it as he bricked horribly. He just isn’t a great shooter. He creates his own points. Kudos to DeChellis for getting him 12 minutes of rest.
- Tim Frazier – What a night for the true freshmen. In just his second career game, Frazier went off for 19 points on 11 shots and calmly drained 4 of 5 threes from the perimeter. I’m very interested to see how the jumper comes along. It had looked awful up until last night. But he’s a competitor and if he can shoot like this consistently, look out. He also grabbed 2 boards and dished 3 assists. Stud.
- Jeff Brooks – An even more impressive performance from Jeff compared to last game. He finished with 12 points on 8 shots (6-8), all of which came from inside the arc. He was aggressive and confident, grabbing rebounds and taking kids to school. The variety of moves Jeff displayed included a step-back 15 ft fadeaway from the baseline, an under control drive from the foul line to the rack, and a nice turnaround floater off an offensive rebound. He grabbed 5 boards in 21 minutes, too, compared to just 1 in 28 min against Penn. Brooks is the x-factor and the early returns on his season are very good.
- Chris Babb – Basically ended the game with his barrage of threes, finishing with a career high 15 points (all on treys). Also grabbed a couple of tough boards on the defensive end. He’s gotta stop hacking in the first half, though. I can’t wait to see how much he produces when he’s not in foul trouble. We haven’t seen him put the ball on the floor yet, but he claimed to have developed that part of his game over the summer.
- David Jackson – He contributed more in the first half, which is good because the team was struggling. Finished with 8 points (on 4 shots), 7 rebounds, and 2 assists. These are the kind of nights I want from DJ – quiet production. Nothing’s gotta be fancy, just be involved on the floor. He took a charge on defense, as well.
- Andrew Jones – A better performance from Drew, but I’m still expecting more. He just didn’t look good a few times when he got the ball in the post, turning it over twice. He scored 6 points (of the garbage variety) and was active on the glass with 8 rebounds. He also blocked 2 shots.
- Sasa Borovnjak – Continues to leave good impressions. He only played 8 minutes after the game was well in hand, but he produced. He has good footwork, good hands, and a nice touch around the tin. It’s also exciting that he can shoot foul shots. He hit the deck for another loose ball on defense, as well. Finished with 6 points (3 shots) and 3 rebounds.
- Adam Highberger – He’s going to have a consistent role on this team. This is twice now where he has come in cold off the bench and nailed an open 3. That was always a pet peeve of mine about D Mo. He would come in, PSU would work to get an open look for him, and he wouldn’t convert. Highberger is now 3-4 from 3 in 2 games.
- Cammeron Woodyard – Not a good game from Cam. Once again Babb sits with foul trouble, and Woodyard is unable to provide a spark. I was surprised DeChellis kept him in after Woodyard turned the ball over with a weak entry pass, took an ill-advised three early in the shot clock, and then didn’t get out a shooter in transition D in successive possessions. Just 3 points, 1 rebound, and 1 assist in 17 minutes. He’s now 2-8 from the floor for the season and all 8 attempts have been from 3-land.
- Andrew Ott – Played 7 first half minutes. Grabbed a few boards and played good D, but that’s it. That’s all we need him to do, though.
- Billy Oliver – Played 4 minutes of garbage time. It’s nice to see him healthy enough to play. Seems like a very smart player, especially on defense. We’ll see if he ever cracks into the regular rotation.
- Steve Kirkpatrick – Nice to see practice players get some run.
Some other notes
- Bill Edwards dressed again. DeChellis said in his post-game presser that they’re expecting him back after the Charleston trip. This is encouraging because he’s ahead in his initial 4-6 week recovery prognosis. He will play and probably take some of Cam’s minutes if Woodyard doesn’t step it up.
- Jermaine Marshall didn’t play again. A redshirt seems to be the plan.
Overall, a very exciting performance in the second half and lots of potential displayed against a pretty athletic RMU club. The team is now off to Charleston to play UNC-Wilmington in the first round of the Charleston Classic.