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Penn State Basketball: Takeaways From 67-65 Loss to Purdue

Penn State Basketball: Seth Lundy
Photo by Penn State Athletics

CHICAGO — Penn State basketball fell one basket short of its goal, falling 67-65 to top-seeded Purdue in the conference tournament final.

Penn State concluded its regular season 22-13 and now prepares for NCAA tournament play for the first time in 11 years. Here are a few takeaways from Penn State coming up just shy of its first Big Ten tournament title.


The Purdue star was everything a star should be. He proved he was the best player on the floor, and when his team needed a basket, he provided it. No matter what Penn State basketball tried, Edey provided almost automatic offense and kept Penn State from getting ahead.

Over Purdue’s last two games in Chicago, Edey scored 62 points. Against Penn State, he had another advantage because the team spent the previous day battling Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis. Facing the two hardest matchups in the Big Ten in less than 24 hours makes for a daunting assignment for any team, let alone one that gives away size like Penn State.

“He’s big, strong and finishes well,” Myles Dread said.  “I mean, he’s a great player. We did the best we could. We tried to put him in actions on offense and did our best to fight as hard as we could on defense.”


For the fourth day in a row, Penn State basketball made its charge in the final segment of the game. This time, Penn State took a minute longer to get started, but the results were similar.

Penn State scored 22 of the game’s final 29 points, turning what looked like a certain Purdue win into a battle to the final play. That’s something that has to continue against Texas A&M if the season is to go past Thursday, and it’s something the team want to expand against the Aggies.

“When we play with that energy and that urgency at the end, we’re a much better team,” Jalen Pickett said. “I think we’ve got to play like that for a full game, not just the last ten minutes or whatever it was.”


There’s one major reason why Penn State played Sunday: how well its defense locked down on opposing shooters.

Outside of Edey, Purdue did next to nothing from the field in the second half. Penn State held the Boilermakers to 9-for-29 from the floor in the second 20 minutes, and five of Purdue’s baskets came from Edey. The rest of the Boilers struggled to hit anything, shooting a combined 4-for-22.

The second half of the Illinois game seemed to be a wakeup call for Penn State. Over the last three games, Penn State held Northwestern, Indiana and Purdue to 47% or fewer from the field. Only Indiana’s second half featured any of those teams topping 40%, and for Purdue coach Matt Painter, that kind of defense is a hallmark of most tournament-worthy teams.

“You hope to shoot better, but defense and rebounding and travel, and sometimes your jumper doesn’t,” Painter said. “We hope our jumper’s packed, but that’s part of basketball. If you have a cold night, can you still beat a really good team on a neutral court? That’s a challenge. The great ones (teams) can do that.”


Penn State certainly doesn’t plan to stop shooting, given how accurate it’s been most of the season. But playing four games in four days takes its toll, and Penn State looked fatigued until it started its late comeback.

Pickett, Andrew Funk and Michael Henn combined to go 0-for-11 from behind the arc, far from the marksmanship they’ve shown most nights. Penn State insisted fatigue wasn’t the problem, but it missed several shots it normally hits.


It’s hard to believe Penn State will struggle again once it’s had time to recover. Four games in four days is a grind, and now it will have multiple days to get healthy and rested before the NCAA Tournament.


Penn State coach Micah Shrewsberry continued to open up his bench Sunday, and once again, reserve took advantage of his chance.

Freshman forward Evan Mahaffey  only stepped on the court for five minutes, but he provided an emotional spark. As Penn State started its comeback, Mahaffey’s interior presence gave Purdue a new look and threw off the Boilermakers.

“He’s an energy guy for us,” Shrewsberry said. “Sometimes I make mistakes by not playing him more because we need him. We could have used his energy earlier. That’s what he is. That’s what he does.”

The extra bodies could be helpful Thursday. Texas A&M has 10 players averaging double-digit minutes per game, but A&M won’t be able to wear down Penn State with its deep lineup.

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