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PennState Basketball: Nittany Lions Stumble To 60-39 Loss To Northwestern

by on February 22, 2015 6:00 AM

Penn State opened Saturday afternoon's game well, and perhaps that was the sign it was going to end so poorly as the Nittany Lions' stumbled to a 60-39 loss to Northwestern.

Saturday's game started with a 12-6 opening margin that saw Penn State make threes and defend. It's a successful formula for winning on the road.

But from there - perhaps predictably - the bottom fell out of Penn State's offense. DJ Newbill following up his 29 point performance against Wisconsin to score only three points all game. Geno Thorpe and Shep Garner were nearly all of Penn State's offense for much of the half. It was a dismal performance that included the ever popular distinction of the first two-point basket coming nearly 15 minutes into the game

Against any other team in the Big Ten and this game may have been over by halftime. But Northwestern's own youth, struggles and frequent misfires kept it a close 28-20 margin at halftime. Penn State making only two baskets from inside three point land in 20 minutes of play.

Despite all of this, there was some assumed second half turnaround by Penn State.

But It never really happened. Penn State would see the lead grow to double figures before chipping it back down to just four points.

And that was all there was. One substantial offensive run in the second half against the Northwestern zone before Penn State seemingly packed its bags and let the Wildcats essentially run up the scored. Northwestern pushed the lead back out to 10 thanks to back-to-back threes and the answer never came from Penn State.

Ironically there were a lot of good stats for the Nittany Lions on Saturday. Six blocks, 11 assists, and only 15 fouls. Those numbers -- even the 14 turnovers -- have been calling cards of success this year.

Simply put, the shots never fell, and a 27-percent outing from the floor to match Northwestern's 47-percent clip is perhaps the only stat needed to be retold from this game.

Penn State failed to make shots, turned the ball over and played maybe its worst game of the season against a team that was probably the least likely to make the Nittany Lions pay for their mistakes.

The overall result and fallout will be interesting to watch unfold. Coming off of a close loss to No. 5 Wisconsin and then a horrid performance against Northwestern, one has to wonder what is left in the tank for a team that has ultimately failed to live up to the fair or unfair hype it generated in the early season. The Nittany Lions' have NIT hopes to play for, and while that may not seem like much to the average fan, Penn State isn't a program graced with the luxury of turning down postseason basketball.

Like all things connected with Penn State basketball, the best bet is to not guess what will happen next. Because that guess is almost always wrong.

 

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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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