Penn State men’s basketball (3-2, 0-1 Big Ten) lost a hard-fought battle against Michigan (6-0, 1-0 Big Ten) 62-58 Sunday afternoon. Izaiah Brockington led the team with 14 points.
Fouls were an issue for the Nittany Lions, as they got into trouble early and couldn’t make free throws down the stretch. That was ultimately the difference in the game.
How It Happened
Jamari Wheeler got the game started with a quick steal, however it didn’t lead to any points for the Nittany Lions. Michigan was able to get a couple easy buckets before John Harrar got Penn State on the board.
Penn State struggled to make any baskets and turned the ball over way too many times. This led to the Wolverines to go on a 5-0 scoring run before the first media time out.
Coming out of the timeout, Myles Dread knocked down a wide-open three, ending the scoring drought. Michigan was able to get into the paint and get a good layup on its next possession. Penn State could not hit a shot after multiple chances, which summarized the first seven minutes of the game perfectly.
The Nittany Lions caused two straight turnovers in back-to-back possessions, but they could only score on an Izaiah Brockington three-point shot. They were then bullied in the paint by the Wolverines, where they scored six consecutive points.
Jones made a very contested three, which was shocking considered how guarded he was and how little the shots were falling. The confidence was high as Abdou Tsimbila had a massive block that led to a Sessoms layup and a Michigan timeout.
The timeout must have been very effective, because the Wolverines hit back-to-back-to-back threes and extended their lead over the Nittany Lions. Sessoms scored a layup, but Michigan hit another three as a response.
The Nittany Lions ended the first half on a 6-0 scoring run and Tsimbila got his first bucket of his college career with a very slick layup. However, they ended the first half trailing 36-27.
At the beginning of the second half, Jones missed the shot but got his own rebound and found Brockington for the score. The Wolverines were able to score in the paint, but Harrar responded with a bucket of his own.
Penn State took its first lead of the game with a Harrar layup. It seemed that the Nittany Lions were finally playing at a pace that they were comfortable with.
Dread got fouled after shooting a three point shot, and he made all three free throws. Lundy followed that up with a nice little put-back to take the lead, but Michigan quickly retook the lead on the other end.
Brockington was able to push his way into the lane and drew a foul after making a basket. He made the free throw and the Nittany Lions took the lead. However, they were in foul trouble and kept fouling the Wolverines on the other end.
Penn State went on a cold streak as nothing went down. Whether it was free throws or actual jump shots, the Nittany Lions were ice cold from the field. They went scoreless for five minutes until Jones knocked down two free throws.
After the final media timeout, Jones hit a big time three to bring the score to a one point difference. They had a big time stop on the defensive end, and then Sessoms drew a foul after making the basket.
Michigan tied the game with another basket in the paint. Sessoms tried to do the same thing on the other end, but ended up turning the ball over. That led to another score in the paint for the Wolverines.
Michigan missed both of its free throws, and Penn State called a timeout with 18 seconds left, down by two points. Sessoms drove into the paint and missed the layup, resulting in the Nittany Lions having to foul. Sessoms also turned his ankle and got hurt.
Michigan made both of its free throws and the game ended 62-58. Brockington led the team with 14 points, and Jones and Sessoms added 10 points each.
- Penn State is going to really struggle against big men in the Big Ten. Michigan’s center Hunter Dickinson, who is 7’1″, absolutely destroyed the Nittany Lions in the paint. There was no match for him. Other Big Ten teams have multiple seven-footers, so this is going to be a big weak spot for this team moving forward.
- The streaky shooting is a problem, but not as big of a problem as taking bad, contested shots. Myreon Jones did that a lot, and almost none of them went in. Michigan played really good defense, but the Nittany Lions have to be better at creating open looks because those baskets will not go in at the rate they need to win games.
- The Nittany Lions did come back, which is very impressive. They did prove that they can hang with the best of the best in the conference, but they haven’t proved if they can win the big games in the conference however.
The Nittany Lions will take on No. 6 Illinois back in Happy Valley at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, December 23. The game will air on the Big Ten Network.