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Penn State Basketball Can’t Keep Pace, Falls at No. 1 Purdue

The Lions struggled with the deep ball on both sides of the floor against the top team in the country.



Jan 8, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions guard Jalen Pickett (22) drives against Purdue Boilermakers center Zach Edey (15) in the second half at The Palestra. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State basketball (14-8, 5-6 Big Ten) was defeated handily by No. 1 Purdue (22-1, 11-1 Big Ten), falling 80-60 on the road Wednesday. While it was able to tighten the margin at times in the first half, Penn State never gained enough momentum for anyone to seriously think it had a chance in this game.

Micah Shrewsberry’s team now falls to 5-6 in conference play. Though a win was never expected against top-ranked Purdue, the Nittany Lions will need to rebound quickly before another road matchup this weekend. 

Daggers from Deep

Although the Nittany Lions pulled within four points immediately out of the half, that was about as close as this one got to becoming a contest. The Boilermakers started the second half on a 21-2 run to blow the game wide open. 

Penn State came into this game with a plan to double Purdue’s Zach Edy in the paint, which worked to a degree. The national player of the year frontrunner finished the game with 18 points and didn’t attempt a shot from the post for a solid 15 minutes of game time. However, Penn State could not stop Edy on the glass, tallying 13 rebounds on the night. Overall, the Boilermakers doubled the Nittany Lions in rebounds, 38-19.

But the biggest problem for the Lions was Purdue forward Mason Gillis. Gillis scored 29 points on 9-12 from deep, setting the Mackey Arena record for threes made in a game. Overall, the Boilermakers took advantage of open looks from three created by double teams in the post. Purdue shot 45% from deep on the night, including 8-13 in the second half.

Cold as Ice

On the other side of the floor, the Nittany Lions struggled to score for long stretches of this game.

Penn State finished the game shooting 43% from the field, including 11-29 from three. Seth Lundy led the Lions in scoring, posting 18 points on 7-12 shooting. Jalen Pickett barely cracked double digits, finishing with 12 points, five rebounds, and seven assists. Andrew Funk had his worse shooting performance of the season, going 0-6 from three and 1-9 in total.

Michael Henn was the only bright spot – if you can call it that – for the Nittany Lions offensively. Henn scored nine points in the game’s first six minutes, which helped keep the score close early. However, Henn would only add one more bucket on the night, finishing the game with 11 points.

On the Road Again

Penn State basketball will continue its road stretch Sunday in Lincoln in a game against Nebraska (10-13, 3-9 Big Ten). The Cornhuskers will come into this game ranked second to last in the conference, only ahead of Minnesota. 

The Nittany Lions cruised the last time these teams met two weeks ago, winning by 11 at home. Meanwhile, the defeat started a four-game losing streak for Nebraska. Penn State should be able to take care of business in this one, but it’ll need to raise its level of play on the road. Micah Shrewsberry’s squad is 3-6 away from the BJC this season. Historically, the Nittany Lions have struggled in Lincoln, suffering a 2-7 record in the Cornhusker State since 2012. 

With only three remaining games against teams outside of the top 50 in the NCAA NET rankings, Penn State needs to make the most of these “winnable” games when it gets the chance. Beat these opponents, and the Nittany Lions will likely only need to steal two more games to finish .500 in conference play. That, and a respectable showing in the Big Ten tournament, should be enough to punch the Lions’ ticket to the Dance.

But, at this point, only time will tell. 

Matt is a co-owner and Editor in Chief of Basic Blues Nation. Launched in 2022, Basic Blues Nation is one of the fastest-growing websites covering all Penn State athletics, with over 3.5 million readers in 2023. Matt is also a credentialed member of the Penn State football beat, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America.


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