NittanyNation - PSU Hoops falls just short at home against No. 3 Purdue
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PSU Hoops falls just short at home against No. 3 Purdue

Penn State had a tall task ahead of it with No. 3 Purdue traveling to the Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday and despite a more than valiant effort from Penn State, the task was too tall for the Nittany Lions.

The Boilermakers made the first few minutes look easy, scoring inside with Zach Edey’s height advantage and with some nice ball movement to score outside with ease.

However, Penn State, led by Jalen Pickett, roared back near the 16-minute mark to tie it up then take the lead. Pickett hit a pretty step back and a deep three, followed by a Greg Lee mid-range jumper. Jalanni White and Seth Lundy each picked up big-time blocks in the run.

Penn State kept the momentum going strong.

The Nittany Lions couldn’t miss, and they kept Purdue’s biggest scoring threats in Jaden Ivey, Trevion Williams and Edey quiet for a long stretch, fueling a 9-0 run before a Matt Painter timeout.

Purdue came right back with a 9-0 run of its own to retake the lead 23-21. The Boilermakers found their way inside often, especially after Pickett and John Harrar left the floor.

They extended the lead a bit, but Penn State came back and scored shortly after losing the lead. Painter’s squad held a tight 29-26 lead at the three-minute mark.

The Nittany Lions once again climbed back with big interior shots from Pickett and Harrar, but Ivey made a deep three to give his team the lead right back, carrying a five-point lead at the break.

Purdue exploded early out of the break, extending the lead to 10 points. Williams scored second-chance points, and Ivey hit a three to force Micah Shrewsberry’s hand for a timeout.

The Boilermakers held their 10-point lead for a long stretch in the second half.

Just under 10 minutes, Penn State found a spark. Pickett hit a pair of acrobatic shots as the shot clock was winding down, and Seth Lundy finally found his first points with a deep pullup three. Then Greg Lee brought the deficit to four with an and-1 chance, but he missed the free throw.

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A wild sequence soon ensued. The teams hit nine combined threes in and eight-minute stretch.

Purdue and Penn State went shot for shot for the next few minutes, draining 3-pointer after 3-pointer.

Penn State grabbed its first lead in a long time thanks to threes from big men Jalanni White and Greg Lee, but Williams was there once again to answer the three from Lee.

Mason Gillis found his stroke from deep on the ensuing possession, stretching the lead back out to four for Purdue.

Myles Dread missed a great look from deep, and Williams once again came up big. He converted an and-1 to make it a five-point lead with just a minute left.

Ivey stripped it from Lundy, and Penn State couldn’t convert on the next possession.

No. 3 Purdue held on 74-67 in a scratch-and-claw game on the road.

Extra possessions tell the story

Earlier in the year, Shrewsberry said he liked the way his offense was playing, but they needed to get more possessions and more shots. They turned the ball over too much and didn’t pick up enough offensive rebounds.

On each of Penn State and Purdue’s runs, those numbers were more than evident.

Penn State caused three Purdue turnovers for seven points, grabbed four offensive rebounds to Purdue’s one and had taken five more shots than Purdue on its run.

On Purdue’s run, Penn State turned it over two times, and the Boilers consistently picked up more offensive rebounds than they had earlier in the contest. The first half ended in Purdue’s favor thanks to the extra shots.

The two teams were nearly knotted statistically at half, both shooting 43% from the field, but Purdue shot it slightly better from deep to be the difference.

Penn State made up some ground through most of the second half, and the Nittany lions ended up shooting it better overall than Purdue did.

Pickett and Ivey/Williams don’t disappoint

After Edey dealt with major foul trouble in the first half, it was all the Ivey and Pickett show for Purdue and Penn State.

The two top-tier guards were dueling back and forth throughout the first period with Pickett scoring 12 points and Ivey adding seven of his own.

Penn State’s point guard was dishing, too, as he had six assists with just one turnover. Ivey had just one assist at the break.

Each cooled off a bit as the second half started, but Ivey hit a big three and Pickett was still ice cold with the shot clock expiring.

Ivey got a ton of help from Williams and Sasha Stefanovic, though, while the rest of Penn State’s offense was cold outside of Pickett and Harrar.

Pickett finished the night tying for a game-high 21 points, and he hit some crazy shots in the biggest moments for the Nittany Lions.

Ivey was solid all day, and he showed why he’s slated to be a top NBA Draft pick soon. But Williams may have been an even bigger story.

As the clock wound down, Pickett and Williams put up some of the biggest shots and answers for their teams. Williams also tied for the game-high 21 points and tacked on nine rebounds, including six on the offensive end.

Down the stretch, Williams was always there as soon as Penn State grabbed some momentum. He hit big shot after big shot.

Takeaways

Purdue is the real deal this year. They’ve got four or five top options for scoring, and when one isn’t on, the other steps up.

Williams proved that today after Ivey struggled for much of the game. But even then, Ivey stepped up late and proved why he’s so highly touted. Stefanovic is an elite scorer from deep, and Edey is unguardable down low if he can stay out of foul trouble. Even Gillis found his spot in this one.

For Penn State, the result should be encouraging.

The Nittany Lions had a chance to steal the game at the end thanks to clutch shots from Pickett, but really from just about everyone on the roster when it mattered most.

When things are clicking, Pickett, Harrar and Lundy are good enough to hang in the Big Ten and even make noise for the NCAA Tournament.

Penn State didn’t have the contributions from Lundy until late in the game on Saturday, and that proved to be the difference. Penn State needed more from others outside of Pickett and Harrar, and it just didn’t get it until it was too late.

Purdue’s depth is what led to the victory in the BJC.

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