Some Quick Thoughts on Nebraska’s Win Over Penn StatePosted by Brendan Brody on February 21st, 2014
Nebraska has become the talk of the Big Ten, as they have played their way into serious NCAA Tournament consideration by knocking off Michigan State on the road. The last time they won against a heavyweight, they came out and lost the next game to Penn State. This time around, they took care of any potential letdown by winning 80-67. Here are four quick takeaways from last night’s foul fest in Lincoln.
- How serious is the Walter Pitchford injury? Pitchford went down with about 8:00 left to play in the game to a left leg injury. It looked as though Penn State’s Donovon Jack hit the leg with his shoulder. He wasn’t able to put any weight on it, and had to be helped off the court by his teammates. If he misses a significant amount of time, the Huskers will be stretched a little thin on the offensive end. Backup Leslee Smith will be able to provide rebounds and gives them a better defensive presence in the middle, but he can’t come close to matching Pitchford’s offensive abilities. Ray Gallegos would really have to step his game up to become a third scorer with Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields if Pitchford can’t play.
- Fine line between scrappy and reckless. Penn State has come to be known for really getting after it on the defensive end. They dive for loose balls and are relentless in trying to make hustle plays. Sometimes this blows up on them however, and last night was a prime example. They committed countless fouls that were unnecessary, especially in the first half. They fouled a three-point shooter twice, and had a litany of loose ball fouls going for rebounds. Nebraska shot 23 first-half free throws, and took 48 for the game. This led to them being +20 on points at the charity stripe overall. Pat Chambers deserves credit for getting his players to play hard, but they also need to play smarter. The Nittany Lions did not do a good job realizing that the referees had a very tight whistle, and did not adjust at all to how things were being called.
- Tai Webster sighting. Webster has not been very good lately, but he had his most productive game in quite some time. Most of his success was from him getting to the free throw line, as he went 8-for-10. He posted an offensive rating of 156, which is the first time he’s had one over 100 since January 20 against Ohio State. He ended up with 10 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists, after averaging 1.2 PPG, 2.0 RPG, and 1.4 APG in his previous 5 games. Maybe the improved play of backup Benny Parker has sparked something in the freshman from New Zealand.
- It can’t be just the Newbill and Frazier show. DJ Newbill and Tim Frazier didn’t play great, but they also didn’t get a whole lot of help either. The two standout guards combined to shoot 11-for 33 from the field, but they did score 34 of the team’s 67 points. Frazier leads the conference in assists, so for him to only have 3 helpers and take 19 shots from the field tells you that things were slightly skewed on the offensive end. Brandon Taylor had 4 points and 2 technical fouls, Jack continued to struggle shooting the ball, and John Johnson went 1-for 9 from the field. The moment Penn State can establish a consistent third scorer is when they’ll start to turn the corner. They’re running out of time, but they are much better when Frazier can distribute more and not feel like he has to force things on the offensive end.