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5 Observations from Penn State’s Win over Morehead State

Penn State improved to 4-0 on the year Friday night with a 74-51 victory over Morehead State that wasn’t always the prettiest looking game but was defensively effective as the Nittany Lions forced 29 turnovers en route to an eventual straightforward victory. Penn State is back in action at noon on Thanksgiving Day when the Nittany Lions face #13 Texas A&M on ESPN for the ESPN Events Invitational in Florida. But for now, here are five keys from Friday night.

Pressure Problems: Morehead State coughed up the ball 29 times on Friday evening, two shy of setting the Bryce Jordan Center single-game turnover record set by Fairleigh Dickinson in 2017. Some of it was self-inflicted wounds but nothing set the tone better for Penn State’s defense than creating a 10-second violation on Morehead State’s first possession of the game. Penn State’s pressure and general quickness forced Morehead State to move faster than it wanted to and while the Nittany Lions may have been on the right end of nearly 30 turnovers, half of those were unforced compared to 14 steals by Penn State players. This was the best showcase so far of how Mike Rhoades’ style of play can get teams on their heels, 32 points off of turnovers is special.

Cold Night: If there was anything good Penn State could take from Friday night it may have been the defense, if there was anything bad to take from it, it was likely the cold shooting from just about everywhere on the floor. The Nittany Lions 19-for-64 from the field on Friday in a game that was not the best showcase of shot-making you’re ever going to see. Kanye Clary and Ace Baldwin combined for a rough 7-for-27 outing as no Nittany Lion who attempted more than two shots hit more than 50% from the field. This will happen, probably more with this team than it might care to admit, but the Nittany Lions won’t be so lucky in the future if the shooting gets this cold.

Do It All: Qudus Wahab continues to be a solid addition to this roster with a 14 point, 12 rebound night that saw the big man go 10-for-13 from the line. if Wahab is able to draw fouls, make free throws and grab rebounds in Big Ten play he will be a big piece of any kind of success the Nittany Lions can muster up. Add in the fact he picked up just three fouls over the course of a fairly physical evening down low and that’s a good equation for big man play moving forward. Nothing hurts more than getting fouled and missing the free ones. Wahab did his part on Friday.

Mr Bench: Jameel Brown had another solid shooting night off the bench on a day that wasn’t full of many of those, hitting three of his six attempts from beyond the arc in just 11 minutes of action. Brown has played confidently so far this early season and if he can continue to be a reliable threat from range he could be the sort of player that shows up for only a few minutes but turns the tide in the process. The better his defense the more minutes he will get.

Second Chance: Penn State managed to make up for missed shots on Friday night by hauling in 14 offensive rebounds that resulted in 21 second-chance points. The Nittany Lions were not dominant on the boards – actually getting out rebounded by four – but did come up with plenty of timely rebounds that lead to key points in the game. Penn State led the game in second-chance points, fast break points and points off of turnovers. Do that all year long and you’ll win plenty of games in the process.