“We struggled with everything,” Penn State interim head coach Jim Ferry said Friday with the only quote needed to summarize the Nittany Lions’ 73-52 loss to Purdue.
A check of the stats confirms this hypothesis as Penn State shot 35% from the field while the Boilmakers made 52% of their attempts. Purdue scored 40 points in the paint and nearly did the same on the glass out-rebounding the Nittany Lions 41-28 in the lopsided effort.
On the floor it was a game of runs in the first half, both teams pushing past one another before Purdue stitched together baskets to go ahead by 15 turning a 28-21 margin into a 41-26 halftime lead. Over that span the Nittany Lions made just three baskets, all in a row, to briefly cut the margin to just seven points before Purdue answered with an 8-0 run to end the opening 20 minutes of play.
The second half was more or less the same, the Nittany Lions never shooting well enough to mount a charge and Purdue never cooling enough to allow Penn State back into the contest. At one point the Nittany Lions’ seemingly predictable second half slump watched Penn State make just one shot in 13 attempts. Purdue would lead by 12 with just one 16 minutes to go in regulation but the game would never get closer.
Myreon Jones led the way for Penn State with 11 points while Jamari Wheeler had a productive nine point, six assists and six rebound outing.
In and of itself the result means little in terms of the course ahead for Penn State basketball. The program has long been preparing – although outwardly optimistic – for Sandy Barbour and her administration to clean house. While Ferry’s is hopeful to retain the job in a full-time role, he is almost certainly aware that changes are incoming both with his roster and coaching staff if he were to be retained. Ultimately neither of these truths working in his favor as it pertains to retention.
Which direction Barbour leans will become much clearer in the coming weeks. As expected given the runway to work with, Barbour’s search has long been underway and program sources have floated a handful of names inside and outside of the Big Ten that have been mentioned in connection to the job. At this point it would be a surprise to two sources if Barbour were to hire the grand slam financial investment hire that fans have long dreamed of but with the NCAA tournament not far away, more candidates could enter the fray in immediate future.
In either case Penn State will close out the regular season’s home slate on Wednesday against Minnesota.