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Following Penn State's 62-39 to to Maryland on Wednesday night at the Bryce Jordan Center, guard Talor Battle couldn't reiterate it enough: the Nittany Lions just didn't put the ball in the basket against the Terrapins...and even that might have been an understatement.
Penn State finished the evening 14-68 from the field for 20.6%, by fair the Lions' worst offensive performance of the season and possibly last season, too. That ugly number included a 3-26 mark from 3-point territory, or 11.1%.
In what has become an increasingly frustrating refrain for the Penn State faithful since Penn State's NIT Championship in 2008-2009, though, there were a lot of positives to take away from the loss.
State held Maryland, a team averaging over 80 points per game coming in, to 62. The Lions grabbed 20 offensive rebounds and forced the Terrapins into 17 turnovers. After bad performances defending the perimeter against Mississippi and Furman, Penn State limited Maryland to four makes from beyond the arc, and the the Lions even held Terp star Jordan Willliams to 15 points, just about two below his season average heading in of 17.3.
"We just never got in any kind of a rhythem offensively," coach Ed DeChellis said bluntly after the game "And we let it affect out defense the last 10 minutes."
Indeed, Maryland began breaking out in transition in the second half, scoring eight points off the fast break with most of them coming in the second half. The Terrapins also got off almost twice as many shots in the second half (31) as they did in the first (16) while maintaining near a 50% overall shooting percentage.
Battle led Penn State in scoring as usual with 21 points on the night but two players who've carried the scoring load with him through much of the season didn't contribute much Wednesday night. Forwards Jeff Brooks and David Jackson, averaging a combined 27 points entering the game, scored only eight for Penn State while seeing reduced minutes as a result of foul trouble. The pair was 3-16 from the field.
Maryland coach Gary Williams echoed Battle's sentiments in assessing Penn State's offense.
"I'd like to think it was our defense," Williams said. "But a lot of times, guys miss shots. I'm sure they felt they had some shots they just missed."
Now, he Nittany Lions again find themselves where they did after last Friday's loss to Mississippi, needing to rebound if they have any hopes of making the NCAA Tournament in March.. They'll get their first shot against Duqesne back at the BJC on Saturday and Battle believes focus will be important.
"We can't let Maryland beat us twice," Battle said.
"We'll just go back to practice for the next two days and work on shooting the basketball, getting back in rhythem and coming out Saturday and try and get a win."
Billy Oliver's three-pointer at 7:30 to play was the first Penn State field goal by a player not named Talor Battle in the second half.
When Billy Oliver is catching passes in the back court on an inbound, you know you've got problems in that area. Penn State is getting absolutely nothing on inbounds plays.
No Penn State player outside of Talor Battle has more than four points.
As bad as the first half was offensively for Penn State, this one has been worse. At least the Lions scored some points early when they staked themselves to a 7-0 lead. That was a long, long time ago.
Well it's 53-36 with 3:53 to play. This will be the last update until post-game. Not really much else to say.
Maryland draws Jeff Brooks' fourth foul with 10:35 to play, on yet another and-one. Jeff is getting absolutely killed on defense tonight.
Penn State is forced to call timeout after Billy Oliver fails to go to the ball against the Maryland press. The double red-shirt freshman is also getting killed out there tonight. Lots of mental mistakes, which have been the bane of his existence this season.
Penn State is getting too fancy with its passes and it's costing the Lions important possessions while trailing.
Maryland is getting out ahead of Penn State in transition on every single miss by Penn State, and as you can imagine, with the volume of misses the Lions are contributing, the Terps are getting a lot of opportunities from it.
The Terrapins might be the most undisciplined team Penn State has played all season and the Lions are still getting killed. That's how bad the shooting has been.
Maryland has blown it open, 49-33.
Penn State is getting the rebounds and playing solid defense. The Terrapins are currently on an under 60 point pace. Unfortunately for the Lions, they're not even on a 50 point pace.
Talor Battle exits with a gimpy ankle at 13:34.
And Tim Frazier throws a chest pass to Ed DeChellis on the punch. Man, it's getting really ugly on offense and Penn State is still, emphasize still in this game down nine.
Talor Battle finally gets something, another and-one going into the TV break. He'll be attempting only Penn State's second free throw when the teams come back.
Battle has 15 of Penn State's 27 points. With Jeff Brooks and David Jackson in foul trouble, absolutely no one is stepping up for the Lions right now.
Penn State trails Maryland 35-27 with 11:45 to play.
Penn State was 1-14 from deep in the first half.
Nittany Lions' starting five returns to open the second half.
Talor Battle opens the half with a three for Penn State, draws Lions to within three.
Just a terrible pass into a double team from David Jackson on one end and an and-one foul on Jeff Brooks on the other and just like that, Maryland has opened the lead up to eight.
Tim Frazier is passing up good shots left and right. He's deferring way too much to Battle. His job is to be a distributor for this team, but not at the expense of the few good shots the Lions get.
Shots just aren't falling for Penn State. The Lions are playing good defense but it's starting to look like it's going to be another of just one of those nights for this team. We saw it way too much last year in tight games, and...well here we go again.
With 15:14 to play, Penn State trails Maryland 31-23.
Pirate first baseman Garrett Jones has more three-pointers right now in a half-time shooting contest than Penn State does in the game. Jones has six, the Nittany Lions have one.
Penn State had a remarkable 12 offensive rebounds in the half. That's a good game most nights. Only problem is the Lions haven't done anything with the second chances.
Penn State is down six despite being outshot 50%-22% in the first half. They can thank winning the turnover battle 12-4 for that.
David Jackson only played 11 minutes in the first half, Jeff Brooks only nine. With those two big scorers out of the lineup, it's no wonder Penn State had such trouble on offense in the half.
Maryland was 8-12 from the free throw line in the half, Penn State only 1-1. The only way Penn State will be able to turn Maryland's struggles from the line into an advantage is if the Lions get to the line themselves by attacking the basket.
Talor Battle hits Penn State's first three with a minute to play in the half.
Penn State is getting tons of offensive boards in this final segment and isn't doing anything with them
It's halftime, Penn State trails 26-20. More in a moment.
Penn State badly needed the media timeout under eight. The Nittany Lions weren't running their offense at all. Andrew Jones comes out of the timeout and scores for Penn State to again stem the Maryland tide.
Taran Buie has been taking a bunch of threes off the bench. If we've said it once, we've said it 1000 times, that's not his game. He needs to attack the basket and penetrate to the second level of the defense.
Penn State still hasn't hit a three.
The Nittany Lions haven't played very well since about the 12:00 mark and are amazingly still within a possession of Maryland at the moment. I guess the good news is that it can't get much worse and things are still close. It has to get better in the second half, right?
With 3:46 in the half, Maryland leads 18-15.
Penn State needs to attack Jordan Williams and try to get him in foul trouble. He has five of Maryland's points at the moment.
Mark it down, Jeff Brooks with two fouls at 11:18 in the half. He exits and Steve Kirkpatrick enters. Kirkpatrick can make contributions to this team, but not in Brooks' role. Just not a very dynamic scorer.
Mark it down, Maryland in the bonus with 10:57 to play in the half.
David Jackson stems a 9-2 Maryland run with a jumper. Big bucket for Penn State with Brooks on the bench.
Terrapins are getting hit with a ton of traveling calls early. That's just mental and poor discipline.
James Padgett giving Maryland solid minutes off the bench. He has six points already for the Terrapins.
Penn State looks down right ragged. The Lions aren't running any kind of offense right now. It looks like school yard chuckin' down there.
With 6:39 to play in the half, Maryland has assumed the lead 17-13.
Maryland had six turnovers in the first five minutes of this basketball game. The Terrapins have played some tough teams so far in Pittsburgh and Illinois, but this is their first true road game. Looks like they might be a little overwhelmed without Grevis Vasquez at the helm anymore.
Billy Oliver is first off the bench for Penn State after Maryland hits two free throws.
Penn State is again having trouble with inbounds plays. A lot of just dumping them into the back court to Talor Battle. Not going to score a lot of points that. way.
Terrapins are pressing Penn State quite a bit early here. The Nittany Lions are handling it fairly well, though.
Thunderous dunk by Jeff Brooks gets the crowd into a frenzy.
Penn State is playing solid defense here early, but having trouble getting anything fluid going on offense. Lot's of ring-around-the-arc going on right now.
With 11:38 to play in the half, Lions lead 9-7
Students have just about filled both endzones. They draw a lot of flak for their attendance at football games, but the alumni/locals are the ones not filling their seats up tonight. Lots or red in both far corners as apparantly a lot of Maryland fans have made the trip to State College. Student crowd is pretty lively this evening. They must be feeling the #MDHateWeek.
Maryland sporting some nifty road blacks tonight.
Talor Battle hits the first bucket of the night, a layup, and-one with the foul on Maryland's Dino Gregory. Following the bucket, Penn State comes out in a press and forces a turnover in transition. Penn State will need to score for a press to be effective, though.
Terrapins miss their first two free throws. At 65% for the season, they're not very good in that department. Look for Penn State to make them earn every bucket.
Gary Williams calls time out. Maryland looks incredibly sloppy early on.
Talor Battle taking a lot of threes early on. He looks like he's in the zone mentally. Gotta calm the nerves a little to make those shots, though.
With 15:09 to play, Penn State leads 7-0.
G-Talor Battle, 18.3 points per game
G-Tim Frazier, 3.8
F-David Jackson, 11.7
F-Andrew Jones, 5.5
F-Jeff Brooks, 16.0
G-Cliff Tucker, 13.9 points per game
G-Sean Mosley, 8.7
G-Adrian Bowie, 9.3
F-Jordan Williams, 17.4
F-Dino Gregory, 7.6
The Bryce Jordan Center is filling in here about 45 minutes before the game. Lots of Maryland red in the house. They'll be heard tonight I'm sure. The students have already packed the student section sideline and are now working on the end zone to my left.
Your ESPN2 commentators tonight are Beth Mowins and Mike Kelley.
This is slightly old news but it slipped under the radar here: freshman Jonathan Graham will red-shirt this season, so Penn State's already thin lineup at forward will be missing yet another guy.
Not only is Talor the first Penn State player ever to clear the 1,500 point/500 rebound/400 assists plateau, he's just the third in Big Ten history. Only Ohio State's Evan Turner and Michigan State's Steve Smith have ever acheived that feat.
Penn State faces its toughest frontcourt challenge of the season tonight as the Maryland Terrapins, led by Jordan Williams, invade the Bryce Jordan Center at 9:15 tonight in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
The 6'10 Williams is averaging just over 17 points and 11 rebounds, a stern post challenge for a Penn State frontcourt boasting only center 6'10" Andrew Jones over 6'8". The good news for Penn State is that forwards Jeff Brooks and David Jackson have stepped up considerably this season underneath, averaging about 27 points and 12 rebounds combined in the Lions' first six contests.
Senior Talor Batlle also figures to play an important role. Averaging over 18 points per game, the senior guard remains Penn State's most consistent offensive weapon.
Guard Tim Frazier will need to continue his recent strong of good play as well. On Sunday against Furman, the sophomore contributed at both ends of the floor, racking up four points, six rebounds, five assists, four steals and a blocked shot. Frazier had a big game in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge last year, too, in Penn State's win over Maryland, scoring 11 points and notching five assists. If the guard can play well, expect Penn State to hang with Maryland until late in the game.
Finally, one other story line to keep an eye on will be freshman Taran Buie's performance against a Maryland team that heavily recruited him before he committed to Penn State close to years ago. Buie is averaging 9.3 points per game in his last three contest, so it will be interesting to see if he can kick it up another notche against his former suitor.
Penn State assistant coach Lewis Preston sat down with the Penn State All-Sports Blog to break down Maryland. Here's the video.
As Penn State prepares to face Maryland in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge at 9:15 P.M on Wednesday night in the Bryce Jordan Center, few national prognosticators are giving the Nittany Lions a chance against the Terrapins. ESPN released its predictions for the Challenge last night, and here's what the experts had to say.
Bilas: Maryland -- Although a road game, the Terps have more talent.
Brennan: Maryland -- Maryland forward Jordan Williams is a budding star, and unless Talor Battle can sprout about 10 inches by Wednesday night, the Nittany Lions won’t be able to stop him.
Fraschilla: Maryland -- The Terps should grind out a road win in State College.
Gottlieb: Maryland -- The Terps are better inside with Jordan Williams and though Talor Battle can win a game on his own, Maryland's size and pressure in the backcourt should hurt his percentages.
Katz: Maryland -- Penn State is having a hard time being relevant while the Terps continue to play tougher, no matter the venue.
Leung: Maryland -- The Terrapins' only losses are single-digit ones to Pitt and Illinois, so Penn State should be no problem.
Averaging a double-double, Terp forward Jordan Williams is certainly a big threat to the Lions down low. However, with both forwards Jeff Brooks and David Jackson averaging double figures for Penn State, the battle of the frontcourt might not be as one sided as the experts say. The real mismatch might be in the backcourt, where guard Talor Battle is averaging just over 18 points per contest for the Lions while the Terps lack any guard averaging double figures.
The ACC/Big Ten Challenge got underway on Tuesday night in Minneapolis where Virginia upset No. 17 Minnesota at the Barn 87-79. The ACC now leads the challenge 1-0 but the contest gets underway fully tonight. Here's a preview and some picks.
Iowa at Wake Forest, 7:00 P.M. on ESPNU
Tuesday night's action will begin with a matchup of two struggling teams in the early going. Both the Demon Deacons and Hawkeyes are 3-3 with all six combined losses coming to non-BCS school opponents. Iowa has already dropped contests against San Diego State, Xavier and Long Beach State while Wake Forest has fallen to Stetson, Virginia Commonwealth and Winthrop. New Iowa coach Fran McCaffery will likely look to push the pace, but expect Wake Forest to come away with this one.
Georgia Tech at Northwestern, 7:00 P.M. on ESPN2
The Yellow Jackets and Wildcats hook up in an intriguing lower card game early on Tuesday. Georgia Tech is 4-2 with losses to Kennesaw State and Syracuse already, however, the Jackets did lose to the Orange by only four. Northestern has been scoring the basketball and playing good defense, though, and are 4-0 in the early going. Expect the 'cats, led by John Shurna to get the Big Ten on the board in this one.
No. 2 Ohio State at Florida State, 7:30 on ESPN
The Challenge's big early game will feature a very potent Ohio State squad against an upstart Florida State team in Tallahassee. The Seminoles are 5-1 and lost their last game to No. 14 while the Buckeyes are undefeated at 5-0 including a big win over that same Florida team. Look for Ohio State to win this one in fairly convincing fashion. The 'Noles are OK, but they simply don't have the fire power to keep up the the Bucks.
Michigan at Clemson, 9:00 P.M. on ESPN2
A young Michigan squad faces a tough test on the road at Clemson in this one. The Tigers have opened strong at 5-1 while Michigan has limped to a 3-2 record in the early going. The young Wolverines, led by Darius Morris and Tim Hardaway Jr. will play tough, but Littlejohn Coliseum might be a bridge to far here. We're going with Clemson in this one.
North Carolina at No. 21 Illinois, 9:30 P.M. on ESPN
The big matchup of Tuesday evening will see the struggling Tar Heels head to Champaign. North Carolina dropped a pair of decisions in Puerto Rico over Thanksgiving to Minnesota and Vanderbilt, however, led by Tyler Zeller and Harrison Barnes, the Heels remain dangerous. Illinois should be ready for the challenge, however, with returning stars Demetri McCamey and Mike Tisdale to rely on. In a rematch of the 2005 national championship game, look for the Fighting Illini to prevail.
North Carolina State at Wisconsin, 7:15 P.M. on ESPN2
Bo Ryan's Badgers are off to an uncharacteristically slow start at 4-2 with losses to Notre Dame and UNLV, but the Wolfpack hasn't really beaten much of anyone in compiling a 4-1 record thus far. Jon Leuer and Jordan Taylor are talented an experienced for Wisconsin and should lead Bucky home with a win.
Indiana at Boston College, 7:15 P.M. on ESPNU
The Hoosiers are off to a deceptively hot start at 6-0 so far this season. They haven't really beaten much of anyone so far and got a big scare from Evansville at home a couple weeks ago. Boston College hasn't been very inspiring, either, at 4-2. The Eagles dropped an embarrassing game to Yale at home, however, they have managed Texas A&M and California thus far and appear to be more battle tested, thus, we're going with BC in this one.
No. 18 Purdue at Virginia Tech, 7:30 P.M. on ESPN
Despite high expectations, the Hokies are off to a pedestrian start so far in 2010-2011 at 4-2. Purdue, playing the entire season without Robbie Hummel, is off to a 5-1 start but is coming off a loss against Richmond. Expect both teams to bring their A-games on Wednesday night with the Boilermakers led by E'Twaun Moore gutting out a road W.
Maryland at Penn State, 9:15 P.M. on ESPN2
Maryland had a rough go of things in New York for the CvC Classic, dropping games to Pitt and Illinois while Penn State has seen mixed results on its way to 5-1. Two key factors in this game will be Maryland's free throw and three-point shooting. The Terrapins are only hitting 28% from deep and watched terrible shooting from the stripe doom them at Madison Square Garden. With the game in Happy Valley, Penn State is our narrow bet to win its fourth straight Challenge game.
No. 6 Michigan State at No. 1 Duke, 9:30 P.M. on ESPN
We were a Spartan victory against Butler away from seeing this game in the championship game of the NCAA Tournament last year and now the Blue Devils finally get their shot at Tom Izzo's squad. Sparty looked like a work in progress at the Maui Invitational, struggling to overcome D-2 Chaminade and dropping a tight game to Connecticut. With Coach K's team humming already with a win over No. 4 Kansas State in its pocket already, the Blue Devils will likely close the Challenge with a win for the ACC.