Under Micah Shrewsberry, Penn State is known for being competitive in Big Ten games, but ultimately coming up short for many reasons.
Tuesday night’s 63-60 loss to Wisconsin is yet another example of that.
It was another frustrating loss in which PSU entered the half with a six-point lead only for it to evaporate after the break.
That’s where we’ll start our five takeaways from this one:
The first four minutes after the half are often where close games are won and lost. This game proved no different.
The Badgers came out of the half quickly erasing the six point lead and allowing only two Penn State points in the first eight minutes of the second half. Simply put, that’s just not going to get the job done for Penn State. There needs to be more consistency out of the halftime breaks for Penn State to make a run in March.
Though the game stayed close, PSU never retook the lead in this matchup after Wisconsin’s early second-half run. A 2:38 scoring drought to finish the game is less than ideal for Penn State and any other team, and is something that, once again, can’t happen in these types of games.
Shrewsberry sticks up for his guys, and rightfully so. That’s how locker rooms are won over and respect is earned. Inside the PSU locker room, there are no issues as far as that’s concerned. On the court with the officials is another story.
Shrewsberry’s not going to make many friends talking about officiating, whether what he says is accurate. It’s not going to do his team any favors, either.
Case in point:
Have another look at the charge called on Jalen Pickett late in this one. pic.twitter.com/tE97J28KIN
— psuhoopsstuff (@psuhoopsstuff) January 18, 2023
At this stage of the game, Penn State is down one, and Jalen Pickett is driving hard to the basket. This could have gone a multitude of different ways, including a no-call, but Pickett gets hit with the charge.
PSU out-fouled the home team 21-13, with Myles Dread, Cam Wynter, Evan Mahaffey and Seth Lundy accruing four fouls. Guard Andrew Funk was the lone player for Penn State who wasn’t invited to the foul party.
This isn’t to say most of those weren’t deserved, but it shows the impact officiating can have on a game.
Against the Badgers the foul trouble Lundy, Wynter and Kebba Njie limited their effectiveness on the court in significant fashion.
Their plus minuses paint the boldest of pictures with Wynter being a -11 and Njie and Lundy -9 on the night. Meanwhile, Kanye Clary was a +8 in only 10 minutes while Mahaffey was still able to pull off a +11 even with his foul trouble.
Maybe playing Clary more would have helped, but hindsight is always 20/20. It would behoove PSU to make sure its most effective five is on the floor as much as possible.
It might have been in a losing effort, but Pickett once again proved why he’s one of the Big Ten’s premier players, notching his fifth double-double of the season with 19 points and 12 rebounds.
He’s inching closer to the 2,000 point mark for his career and is approaching 1,000 points at Penn State alone.
Pickett played the whole game Tuesday night and added a team-high six assists.
With yet another loss in Madison, PSU still hasn’t won in the Kohl Center. The Kohl Center opened in 1998 and has been a thorn in Penn State’s side ever since.
The same could be said about playing in Madison in general. It’s been nearly 28 years since Penn State beat the Badgers on the road.