Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

College Basketball

Penn State Basketball Expertly Executes Game Plan to Dismiss A&M

Penn State Basketball: Micah Shrewsberry
Photo by Penn State Basketball: Micah Shrewsberry

DES MOINES, Iowa — Take a look at the rebounding numbers from Penn State basketball in its 76-59 win over Texas A&M, and you might be surprised that Penn State won.

After all, the thing that coach Micah Shrewsberry stressed was offensive rebounding, and A&M pulled down 17 on the offensive glass. For the season, only Arkansas, South Carolina and Murray State gave up more offensive rebounds to A&M than Penn State did.

But there are two things to know about offensive rebounds. First, by definition, you can only get one after you miss a shot. Second, they’re only worth something if the possession ends with points.

That was where and how Penn State dominated.

A&M got its rebounds, but Penn State made sure its opponent couldn’t do anything with them. Texas A&M’s first five offensive rebound chances resulted in no points, sapping the team of its best weapon. A&M never adjusted, scoring just 16 second-chance points, and Penn State romped.

After the game, Mikey Henn said he and his teammates knew of A&M’s strength.

“We knew that they’re one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country, but our defense never quit (Thursday),” Henn said. “We kept flying out, kept rotating and kept playing; we got our stops and then executed at the other end. Some of their guys are bigger and more physical, but we went out and played our tails off.”

By doing so, Penn State (23-13) completely took A&M (25-10) out of its game plan. All season, Texas A&M made its living by getting rebounds in good positions and either getting putbacks or getting fouled.

But the Aggies are not jump shooters, and they’re certainly not deep shooters. Penn State knew that, which repeatedly led to A&M’s offensive rebounds coming in places A&M didn’t want.

When Penn State surrendered an offensive board, it did so several feet from the basket. Each time, that forced A&M to either use clock, make an extra pass or force a jumper — none of which were what A&M wanted.

“We tried to take away their two main scorers and their rebounding,” Penn State forward Evan Mahaffey said. “We made sure to stay disciplined and didn’t foul. Coach really talked about that in everything that we do, because they get a lot of their points at the free throw line.”

Not Thursday.

Texas A&M made it to the foul line just 12 times, one more than Penn State. Only nine of A&M’s 59 points came from the charity stripe, less than half of its season average.

Just as staggering for A&M was the fact that Penn State nearly matched it at the stripe. For the season, A&M sank 662 foul shots while its opponents attempted 667. But Thursday, it was Penn State who reached the bonus first, fouling just 11 times in 40 minutes.

Texas A&M coach Buzz Williams credited Penn State basketball for throwing A&M’s offense off its game but   felt A&M’s biggest issue was on the other end of the flow.

“They’re a good defensive team in regards to not fouling and not allowing you to get to the paint,”  Williams said. “I think we were completely stressed out in what they were doing offensively, and we were not sharp. As much as we could have been better offensively and played with too high of a turnover rate, our problem was defensively.”

Andrew Funk certainly presented problems for Texas A&M, and those problems spilled over into A&M’s offense. With Funk making almost every shot and A&M’s two main avenues of offense cut off, it turned to desperation.

Texas A&M ranks 12th in the SEC in 3-point attempts, yet A&M fired 3s on two-thirds of their second-half possessions. The difference was, Penn State’s 3-point attempts were both part of its offense and good looks at the rim. The Aggies hit seven triples in the second half, but so did Penn State, and on 10 fewer attempts.

“They came out shooting threes and weren’t missing, so it was kind of hard to come up with rebounds,” Texas A&M’s Tyrece Radford said. “When you look up at the scoreboard, you try to do whatever it takes to cut that lead down. But it sucks to suck.”

It happened because the Penn State basketball knew what it needed to do and executed its plan to near-perfection.

“They (A&M) rebound like crazy, so we knew how good they were,” Shrewsberry said. “I thought our attention to detail on defense and offense was really good. That’s the benefit of having an older group of guys that can execute a scouting report on offense and defense. We played hard and we gave ourselves a chance to win.”

Click to comment

Sound Off!

More from Nittany Sports Now

NSN Poll Question

0 It’s the dominant story of Penn State basketball’s offseason: Will Micah Shrewsberry stay or will he go? It’s a question that fans feel...

PSU Basketball

0 Update (6:42 p.m.)— **Stadium’s Jeff Goodman is reporting that Penn State’s offer to Shrewsberry has an increased financial package and NIL commitment. Penn...

Lasching Out

0 Welcome to a brand-new Lasching Out Podcast on the Nittany Sports Now Network. This podcast is hosted by Nittany Sports Now’s Jarrod Prugar...

PSU Basketball

2s Penn State coach Micah Shrewsberry and Notre Dame have begun to have talks. Dave Jones of and The Harrisburg Patriot-News, reported this...

Get Nittany Sports Now in your inbox

Sign-up for email updates and get the whole story first from the Nittany Sports Now team, delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.