Penn State fell to 12-17 on the season and 4-12 in Big Ten play on Saturday night with a 67-66 loss against Northwestern at the Bryce Jordan Center. Today, we take a look at the high and low points of the Nittany Lions' effort and hear the thoughts of players and coaches on the game.
-Penn State had a great shooting night, hitting at 50.9 percent from the field. Success in the transition game helped a lot, especially in the first half, but the Lions adjusted in the second half and figured out the Wildcats zone in the halfcourt, too, attacking the base line and getting some easy looks. You can see this team is becoming more confident going to the basket and less focused on jumpers which, if you're a Penn State fan, has to be an encouraging sign.
-Tim Frazier was excellent again for Penn State, piling up 23 points and eight assists while turning the ball over just once. That last statistic is probably the most important. The junior has shown all season he can score and distribute, but he's coughed the ball up a lot either trying to do too much or just flat being careless with the basketball. This time around, he showed more confidence in his teammates and acted deliberately. If he plays this way regularly next season, he'll be one of the most dangerous players in the country, let alone the Big Ten.
-Ross Travis and Jonathan Graham put up 10 points each and were big on the defensive end, too, grabbing nine and three rebounds, respectively as the Lions dominated the glass 37-22. Slowly but surely, this freshman pair is showing it has the potential to become a solid frontcourt in the future, but...
-...Graham turned out to be the goat for the Lions in the game, missing consecutive free throws with 14.1 seconds left and Penn State leading by one. He followed that up by fouling Northwestern's John Shurna with 2.6 seconds left and giving him a chance to hit the game-winning free throws. The foul call was questionable, so he should probably get the benefit of the doubt there, but the pair of missed free throws were brutal at home. You absolutely have to get at least one in that situation and Graham didn't, a clear sign the "freshman" tag works both ways. He has a lot of time to get better and he has shown phenomenal progress this season. Here's hoping he can use this disastrous result to improve from the foul line and wind up the hero moving forward.
-Northwestern was a back-breaking 15-29 from the perimeter, a big reason it was able to win despite being outshot and outrebounded by significant margins. Some of the looks were just good shots against good defense, but plenty more were wide-open opportunities the Lions should have clamped down on.
-Penn State didn't have a field goal in the final 2:48 of the game. Just as Graham needs to grow at crunch time, the Lions, in general, do, too.
Penn State coach Patrick Chambers talking about the controversial foul call on Jonathan Graham at the end of the game and his team's performance.
Northwestern's Bill Carmody talks about the victory.
Penn State's Tim Frazier and Ross Travis address the loss.