Game 19: Michigan at Penn State Preview

Dylan Burkhardt

: Michigan (13-5) at Penn State (14-5)
Where: Bryce Jordan Center, University Park, PA
When: Tuesday, January 20th 9:00 ET
Spread: PSU by 2.5
Preview: Stat Sheet, U-M KenPom Profile, Penn State KenPom Profile
Radio: MGoBlue, WWJ-AM (950), WTKA-AM (1050)
Opposition Blog: Crispin and Cream

Michigan heads to the Bryce Jordan Center to take on the Nittany Lions in a battle of 3-3 Big Ten teams. I hate to call a game in January a “must win” but this is one that Michigan could really use. Of course there will be chances to make it up down the road but it won’t be easy. Michigan is on their first losing streak of the year and coming off probably their most disappointing game to date. No matter how badly Michigan needs a win, it’s not going to be easy because Penn State is no pushover.

Penn State has been tough at home all year. They have already knocked off Purdue, the conference’s preseason favorite, and also lost a close one to Michigan State. Bryce Jordan Center isn’t overwhelming in terms of home court advantage but a Big Ten road game is a Big Ten road game and nothing will come easy.

On offense the Nittany Lions do a great job holding on to the ball (their turnover rate of 16.6% ranks 7th nationally) while shooting a high percentage from three point range (38.7 3pt% ranks 24th nationally). While they shoot a high percentage from long range they don’t take an overwhelming percentage (35.8%, 98th nationally) of their shots from behind the arc. They also struggle at the free throw line where they are shooting only 66.5%. Overall their adjusted offensive efficiency of 110.3 ranks 6th in the Big Ten. They also like to play a very similar tempo to Michigan right around 65 possessions per game.

Defensively the Nittany Lions are a great rebounding team, they only allow their opponents to rebound 26.9% of their misses (9th nationally). Penn State doesn’t have lots of height but they get after it on the boards and it’s going to be critical for Michigan to come out ready to play hard and hustle. Penn State doesn’t force many turnovers but they defend the three point shot very well, their opponents shoot only 31.3% from long range. Overall, Penn State’s defense is the only defense in the Big Ten that ranks worse than Michigan’s in terms of adjusted efficiency.

The big three for Penn State are Talor Battle, Stanley Pringle and Jamelle Cornley. Battle’s 18.6 ppg is good for second in the Big Ten and he shoots 40.3% from long range while dishing out 5.4 assists per game. Pringle is shooting 50% from long range and averaging 14.4 ppg. Both guards can get hot in a hurry and from what I have seen can hit some pretty difficult shots inside and outside as well. In the paint the Nittany Lions rely on 6-foot-5 240 pound big man Jamelle Cornley to do their scoring and dirty work. Cornley is averaging 14.7 ppg while pulling down 6.6 rpg and shooting just over 50% from the field. Cornley definitely isn’t tall but he is a physical player who can impose his will on a game.

After the big three, Penn State doesn’t have much more in terms of scoring punch. 6-foot-9 Andrew Jones III starts inside and averages 5.2 ppg and 5.5 rpg. 6-foot-6 forward David Jackson was the fifth starter for the Nits and averages 4.6 ppg and 3.6 rpg but he was replaced by Jeff Brooks at the start of Big Ten play. The 6-foot-8 sophomore is averaging 3.5 points per game in his 6 starts. 6th man Danny Morrissey is a career 38% shooter from long range but he is shooting only 32% from behind the arc this year and really hasn’t got going.

Michigan’s last two games have left them with more questions than answers. The offense that was deadly at times early this season has been shut down and the always questionable defense has been giving up points in droves. Michigan isn’t ready to panic but fans are certainly getting nervous. Last week’s conversations about NCAA tournament seeding are now focused on the bubble. DeShawn Sims has made 7 of his last 27 shots and Laval Lucas-Perry hasn’t been much better, making 5 of his last 17. Michigan needs their second and third leading scorers to find their stroke because Manny Harris can’t beat teams on his own.

Let’s hear your thoughts, comments, predictions, and in-game discussion in the comments.

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  • Giddings

    Somehow we’ve just lost our edge. I’m guessing it’s the physicality and size of the Big Ten wearing us down mentally.

  • Drew

    Anyone who said we couldn’t have used Ekpe, take it back. You all see Cornley killing us because we don’t have one damn player who can alter a shot.

    Secondly, God, why can you never ever let us make the NCAA tournament? We’ve been put through this BS year after year. I feel like I never find myself screaming at the TV and throwing things like I do during Michigan basketball games.

  • MaizeNBlue2

    Unbelievable. Where is the team from early in the year? This team hasn’t looked anything like them since the conference season started, with the exception of maybe the Iowa/Illinois (home) game.

  • WTHef?

    I think you get rid of some of the variability of Beilein’s system by having better shooters. Bringing in Morris, Vogrich, and McLimans – and continued development of current roster – will help with that.

  • The defense is awful. But geez, these shots aren’t good looks.

    Just realized I didn’t set my DVR for the game. Anyone know when/if the BTN replays games?

  • Kevin in GR

    We already have some good shooters……We need to improve our defense, rebounding and shot blocking…..Morgan and a healthy Cronin should help next year..

  • Drew

    Dylan, we’ll forgive you if you don’t watch the game again and give us a breakdown. This is so so painful. I feel bad for you having to watch this mockery again.

    Why can’t we make shots anymore?

  • Giddings

    4-6am, Dylan.

  • michiganman777

    Teams have figured out that they can kill us down low. We have NO BIGS..Get used to this for the rest of the season. The only way we can compete is to shoot well and we are not.

  • LOL… Morrissey with another 3…. Guess it’s time to start on the post-game write up.

  • UMDC

    wow, this is shocking. The wheels have completely fallen off the team. They appear as incompetent and poor shooting as last year at this point.

  • AG

    This is the 10-22 team all over again. I can’t imagine how badly we’ll get crushed by Hasheem Thabeet, Delvon Roe, Ralph Samspon III, and at this rate even Kevin Coble!

  • gpsimms

    not that reffing has anything to do with this game at all, but it seems like every game, manny doesn’t get many ‘superstar’ calls, and poor officiating usually seems at least slightly biased against. anyone else subscribe to the theory that maybe beilein is a bit of a pushover with the refs, and they usually give us the short end of the stick?

  • A bit funny to hear McCormick back track on LLP…

  • Ken in Las Vegas

    I feel your pain and frustration, Drew. How many years do we have to wait? The Duke and UCLA games were just a huge tease. I guess we can keep hope by looking at Beilein’s Elite 8 team. They had a horrible stretch of like 6 or 7 losses and then pulled it all together in the conference tourney. Somehow we just have to get cohesive enough that we can make a run like that, because we are not going to go .500 in this conference.

  • Would you really call the UCLA and Duke games a huge tease?

    This team is what it is… We knew the weaknesses all along. I really think this team is pressing right now, when they were playing against Duke and UCLA they were playing loose and free. Now I think they are really trying to force things and they are struggling a bit with expetations.

  • gpsimms

    yeah mccormicks annoying

  • Giddings

    That is true Ken… WVU had 7 losses in 9 games in the middle of the season, including a home loss to Marshall.

  • LLP is in a maaaaaajor slump. Wow, his confidence just looks shattered right now.

    At least DeShawn is snapping out of his funk.

  • gpsimms

    poor deshawn, he must feel completely alone out there…

  • gpsimms

    deshawn 10-14
    rest of team 8-37…makes me a saaad panda

  • AG

    When I said that Deshawn needed to show up tonight, I didn’t mean nobody except Deshawn.

  • Drew

    anyone out there willing to rock me to sleep while I’m crying about this loss and life in general?

  • E-Pulla in the game!

  • Jay

    Zack Gibson the countdown is on..Just wish you could take KG the chucka with you. There must be a force field that wont let these cats go inside the 3 point arc? HELLO the shot aint fallin, lets take a step inside please? Jimmy King says there shooting 51% 2pt fgs but still want to chuck nothing but 3’s. Tonight they cracked the 500 3pt attempts on the season! Come on Coach lets tweak it a little bit SOON! When was the last time you seen UM get a dunk? Every shot they make is hard.

  • Giddings

    I understand that we’re extremely limited down low and Novak has a great basketball mind and a fierce spirit, but I think the Novak-at-the-4 experiment has to end. He’s no longer in position to make much of an impact on the offensive end, even in transition, because he has to bang down low and rebound. The task of trying to defend guys like Dallas Lauderdale, Mike Smith, Marcus Landry, and Jamelle Cornley is clearly taking its toll on him.

    My suggestion is to give Novak’s minutes at the 4 to Shep, give LLP’s minutes at the 2 to Novak, and give Merritt’s minutes to LLP (which doesn’t thrill me, because LLP is clearly not a point guard and often times loses his dribble on his own when driving). I also wouldn’t mind getting A-Wright some time. Let’s go back to what worked earlier in the year.

  • I agree completely Giddings, Novak needs to go back to the 2. Everyone relax though, as bad as this game was, we will not always shoot so poorly. Hell, if we would have just shot 35% on our 3’s we would have won the game!!! Keep the faith, all we need is 9 wins and we all know that this shooting funk will not last. Im not saying we are a great shooting team but if you look at the boxscores, if UM just shoots in the low to mid 30’s percentage wise(which is not high at all) we would have won 2 of our last 3 games.

  • AG

    Just 35% when was the last time we shot even that well?

  • Giddings

    We haven’t shot 35% or better from three-point range since the Oakland game.

  • RB

    Giddings… 100% right. Shep needs to start at the 4 and play significant minutes. Take your pick between LLP and Novach at the 2. We become a totally different team with that line up.

    Playing time in 2010 is going to be very interesting. A lot of these guys are playing for their futures right now.

    Side note, I wouldn’t mind seeing Beilein mix in a conventional 2-3 zone against some teams.

  • Kevin

    I know Merritt doesn’t have many fans on this blog so what are the opinions of Dougless and LLP at the 1. It seems like Grady is going to have his games where he’s just not fully with it. Personally I think Stu should get a couple more minutes at the 1. Novak splitting time at 4 and 2.

  • Giddings

    The only objection I have to Stu at the 1 is that he has nowhere near Grady’s skill in breaking the press. Stu has looked very timid bringing the ball up the court in a press situation, and he also wouldn’t push the ball as much as Grady. Of course, when’s the last time we scored a fast break basket?