There’s no place like the Bryce Jordan Center for the Nittany Lions. After an atrocious trip to Charleston where Penn State was a frigid 38.1% eFG% from the field in 3 games, the Lions carved up Sacred Heart’s defense for 87 points in a 68 possession game. They shot a blistering 70.2% eFG% from the floor, getting whatever they wanted from inside. That’s right, PSU looked like they had a plan of attack on offense and they were dominant on the offensive end.
Those rebounding numbers are awful, especially when you consider the level of competition. But when you take into account the fact that PSU only missed 17 shots all game, it’s not that big of a deal that they only pulled down 2 offensive rebounds. Plus, they put up their best offensive efficiency of the year so far. It was an encouraging performance for a team that looked so anemic on offense in Charleston. Keep in mind, though, Xavier put up 136.4 efficiency and 105 points against the Pioneers just 4 days earlier, so the competition was not good.
The defense was very disappointing, especially in the second half. Sacred Heart hit 8 of their first 11 threes of the second period. They didn’t really do anything special, either. They obviously were a POT team and shot a bunch of threes. There were a lot of ball screens and dribbled weaves that PSU strategized to switch off. But they couldn’t close on SH’s three shooters and they were burned repeatedly. DeChellis sounded frustrated on the postgame radio show. This game wouldn’t have been a contest if the defense showed up. SH did hit a couple of ridiculous shots, but it shouldn’t have become a 62-61 game in the 2nd half.
- David Jackson – How about DJ’s career night? Probably one of the most impressive stat lines from a PSU player, ever. 26 points on just 10 shots (made 8), including a solid 9-11 at the charity stripe. Chipped in 2 rebounds and 4 assists for good measure, as well. The most encouraging part of DJ’s night was that he commanded the paint on offense. He had an assortment of up and under post moves, had a few drives that resulted in trips to the line, and hit a couple of jumpers. I would really like to go nuts over his game, but the defense on him was terrible (6’4″ playground shooter Corey Hassan was guarding him on half his buckets). Probably won’t ever see a game like this from DJ again, but it’s nice to see he can step it up inside.
- Talor Battle – Probably one of the quietest, but most efficient games of his career. 19 points on 8 shots (made 6), 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals. Most of his buckets were layups, and he was a beast on the defensive glass, once again. Talor looked much more comfortable with the rest of the team compared to any other game this year.
- Jeff Brooks – Last year’s Brooks made an appearance. Jeff was in foul trouble all game and was never a factor. He only logged 13 minutes and had 4 points and 1 rebound. Really lost his composure on a few occasions, most notably his 4th foul after a lazy pass that was picked off on the perimeter. We’ll see how Jeff responds…how fragile is his confidence?
- Andrew Jones – Can someone get this guy some post moves going to the basket. While DJ was schooling kids left and right, Jones wasn’t doing diddly. He only took 4 FGA (1 was a wide open dunk) and 2 of them were jumpers. Neither of the 3 attempts were going at the rim. He has got to pick up his game if PSU wants to win, particularly on the road.
- Bill Edwards – I love this guy. He has tons of composure for a true freshman coming off his first injury. He never got ahead of himself and showed some quality court vision. He’s not scared to take it to the rack and finish, either. The lefty has a soft touch from the perimeter, as well. He’s just so smooth with the ball in his hands. I cannot wait until he has at 100%. He was a little bit gimpy with the knee and he was noticeably slow. He scored 10 points (all in the second half) in 13 minutes with 2 rebounds and 2 assists. High ceiling for this guy.
- Cammeron Woodyard – By far Woodyard’s best game of the season. He had 2 steals and 7 points in 15 minutes. He attempted two shots that were not threes for the first time this year. He had a layup on a steal and run-out and a clean 3. But the biggest play from Cam was a smooth 17 foot jumper with 5 minutes left that put PSU up 3 possessions. Nice to see Cam stepping up with the emergence of Edwards. If Cam wants to stay in the rotation, he has to continue this play. The luxury of having depth, for once.
- Tim Frazier – Got the start again and scored 7 points and had 3 assists and 2 rebounds in 23 minutes. He continues to drive the lane with nowhere to go, though. Typical growing pains for the freshmen. He made a lot of athletic plays though and contributed. Will he ever attempt another 3 pointer? He hasn’t since he went 4-5 against Robert Morris.
- Chris Babb – Chris came off the bench and hit two big threes that were set up nicely. He also dished out 5 assists in 22 minutes. I’m willing to bet Babb is going to be a much better shooter at home than on the road. All 4 FGA were from behind the arc, as usual. Still have yet to seen Babb penetrate and create.
- Andrew Ott and Sasa Borovnjak – Both played 5 minutes in the first half but didn’t do too much. Sasa got rejected a couple of times, and Ott did nothing but score on an easy layup set up beautifully by a TB wrap-a-round pass.
I wasn’t impressed with Sacred Heart but they hung tough with their shooting. The defense has got to improve immensely, but I’m sure the coaching staff is working diligently on it with the team. The Lions hopefully found some new shooting confidence they can take with them on the road Monday against UVA in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Preview forthcoming.