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Penn State Basketball: Breaking Down 13.2 Seconds And The Play That Knocked Off Ohio State

by on January 30, 2014 2:00 PM

A game might be played over the span of an hour, but it can be lost in seconds. That's something that every team in any sport has experienced. No matter how hard you practice and no matter how hard you play, sometimes you just don't come out on top.

But sometimes, in those all too important moments when opportunity meets preparation, a team or a player can take things into their own hands and win the game. It's what separates players from legends, another loss from a historic win. While it takes a full game to put your team in a position to win, it take far less time to actually finish the job. 

On Wednesday night there were many times when the Nittany Lions could have folded against Ohio State. Down by 10 with just over five minutes to play in regulation on the road it was hard to see a Penn State comeback in the works. Even fter sending the game into overtime, one had to wonder if the Nittany Lions had the legs to play another five minutes or more of basketball. 

That's just how things have gone for Penn State this year, a team that has lost three conference games in the final minutes by three or fewer points. It looked as if the Nittany Lions were getting their fair share of returned Karma -- after years of Talor Battle stealing victories from unsuspecting opponents.

So another loss on Wednesday night wouldn't have been surprising or unexpected. Penn State making it to overtime said as much about the team to the outside world as a win would. So being down by one with less than 15 seconds to play was looking like maybe another heart breaker in the making for Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers and company.

But 13.2 seconds is a lot of time.

The Setup

Fittingly, Penn State faced with an end of game situation had to get the ball in play. It's the third straight game this has happened. The ball was stolen in the game against Purdue, and nearly stolen twice against Nebraska. So if Penn State is going to win, that means it has to face its biggest challenge over the past three games.

Standing under his hoop, Tim Frazier is set up going left to right  just to the left of the basket. Ohio State is pressing two men as DJ Newbill stands to Frazier's left along the out of bounds line, and Graham Woodward races back towards Frazier's right side. As both guards guard on their man, Penn State's 7-footer Jordan Dickerson makes his way back to just inside halfcourt roughly 35-40 feet from the basket and Frazier.

Ohio State knows that Woodward probably won't get the ball, or likely won't keep it for long as Aaron Craft is cheating towards Newbill halfway between Dickerson and Penn State's eventual savior.

The Pass: 13.2 Seconds

Frazier never really looks at Newbill who is guarded by Buckeye senior Lenzelle Smith Jr, or Woodward, and flicks a pass to Dickerson halfway up the court.

The Screen: 12.5 Seconds

Dickerson catches the ball with both hands as Newbill races between him and the scorer's table. Dickerson simply holds the ball out with his right hand for Newbill to collect, standing as if he's setting a screen. While Dickerson never makes contact with Lenzelle Smith, Smith opts to follow Newbill's path from behind, going around Dickerson rather than sticking close to Newbill. The exchange is clean between the two players. The best player on the court that night now has the ball.

The Survey: 9.4 Seconds

After receiving the ball, Newbill heads to the right side of the floor opposite where he had taken the ball from Dickerson. His teammates follow in transition and Ohio State sets up the defense. A right-handed dribbler, Newbill has set himself up for a drive to the basket with the right hand. He'll have to go through Aaron Craft, one of the best defenders in college hoops, but it's a chance Penn State will take.

The Clear Out: 8.3 Seconds

By this time it is clear that Newbill will take the final shot. He motions with his left hand to sophomore Brandon Taylor to leave the area and Taylor begins to loop towards the basket away from Newbill's right side. Frazier is to Newbill's left on the opposite side of the three point line, but doesn't make a move towards his teammate. It's just Newbill and Craft alone on an island.

The Drive: 5.7 Seconds 

Taylor has now cleared out as Newbill slowly dribbles towards the basket. Frazier begins to move towards the top of the arc so Newbill has an option to kick out to him, but Frazier never raises his hands for the ball.

The Cross: 5.1 Seconds

Newbill would say after the game that Craft had tried to force him left all night and that he knew that Craft would expect him to go right.

And so Newbill begins his drive right as Craft shuffles to cut him off at the baseline. At this exact moment, Craft's feet, shoulders, and back are all completely perpendicular to the baseline. His left foot even slightly behind his right foot as he prepares for Newbill's right-handed drive toward the paint.

But Newbill doesn't go right, a one dribble crossover to his left with 4.8 seconds to go gives him a wide open look at the basket from the elbow of the key. Newbill times the move so well that Craft has both feet in the air mid-shuffle when Newbill makes the cross. 6-foot-7 Buckeye forward Sam Thompson is the next closest defender to Newbill and he is firmly planted below the basket.

The Shot: 3.3 Seconds

With Craft recovering from the crossover, Newbill takes three quick steps toward the basket to get just inside the paint.

This past summer, head coach Patrick Chambers made Newbill go an entire month without shooting from outside the paint to help improve his midrange and close range game.

Relying on that month of practice, Newbill drives until his two feet are firmly planted inside the top right corner of the paint and rises up. Craft who was still recovering from the play by the time Newbill was set and starting to shoot begins to get his hand in the air to defend the shot. Thompson takes a lunge forward but stays down in his stance, never contesting the shot. Aware of both players, Newbill leans ever so slightly away from the defenders to ensure a clear look.

The shot left Newbill's hand with 3.3 seconds to play and traveled through the air for 1.4 seconds before hitting nothing but net.

Ohio State never got a shot off in the final 1.9 seconds of overtime.

From the perspective of Penn State basketball, this was about as fitting of a win as it could get. Finally winning by a possession, in a close game in which a few bounces finally went the way of the Nittany Lions. Newbill, his teammates and coaches put together and executed a play that gave themselves the best chance to win.

It took 65 minutes of basketball for Penn State to be in a position to win on Wednesday night, but it only took 13.2 seconds to seal the deal.

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Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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