Game 14: Michigan at Penn State Preview

Dylan Burkhardt


Who: Michigan (7-6) at Penn State (8-6)
Where: Bryce Jordan Center, State College, PA
When: Jan. 7th, 7 PM EST
: MGoBlue, WWJ 950 AM/WTKA 1050 AM
Line: Penn State by 2
Stats: Live TFS
Opposition Blog: Battle Does it Again
Pomeroy Profile


Michigan’s game at Penn State last year was as close as that team  came to hitting rock bottom. The blowout loss capped a three game losing streak in the midst of a terrible January stretch that saw Michigan start the Big Ten season 4-6. Michigan allowed Penn State to shoot an effective field goal percentage of 67% in what could only be described as a pathetic performance. To put that number in perspective, the worst eFG% that Michigan’s suspect defense has allowed an opponent to shoot this year is 58%.

The good news for Michigan is that Penn State is in rebuilding mode. Jamelle Cornley, Stanley Pringle, and Danny Morrissey have moved on and their replacements aren’t nearly as good. David Jackson, Jeff Brooks, Andrew Jones III, and Chris Babb round out the starting lineup around junior star Talor Battle.

Andrew Jones III is the Lions main option in the post. The 6’10” junior averages 6.9 points and 5.7 rebounds per game while making two pointers at 52.7% clip.

Surrounding Jones are a number of players who have developed from 3 to 4 points per game scorers to 7 or 8 points per game scorers in increased roles in Brooks, Jackson, and Babb. Ranging from 6’5 to 6’8, no one from this trio is particularly aggressive on offense (usage rates under 20%) but they are capable options on any given night.

talor-battleRegardless of his surrounding cast, the key to stopping Penn State is stopping Talor Battle, who is averaging 21.5 points and 6 assists in Michigan’s last two games at the Bryce Jordan Center. Battle is one of only 4 players in the conference to use over 28% of his teams possessions (along Harris, Turner, and Hughes) and he has the ability to take over a game single handily. The question for Michigan is who draws the assignment of guarding Battle. I would expect Michigan to start with Stu Douglass as the most experienced and disciplined defensive guard in Michigan’s backcourt.

Penn State’s offense is solid but unspectacular. They do a good job of holding onto the ball (17.7% TO%, 39th) but are otherwise average. Their shooting (49.7% eFG), rebounding (32.5% OR%), and free throw numbers (FTA/FGA 35.8%) numbers are nothing to write home about.

On the defensive side of the ball, Penn State struggles to force turnovers (17.7% TO%), but is great at crashing the defensive glass (74.3% DR%) and keeping opponents off the free throw line (FTA/FGA = 25.1%). The best news for Michigan is that Penn State’s opponents not only tend to take a lot of three point shots, they make them at a 36.3% clip.

The key for Michigan, as in any game, is make your threes and get the ball to Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims early and often. Andrew Jones is a solid player but he is not the type of interior defender that should be able to stop DeShawn Sims on the block. Last year, Harris had one of his worst games of his career at Penn State and rebounded with a near triple double the second time around. It would be nice to see him put together a solid performance on the road.

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  • Gavin Groninger

    i gave the guys some pointers at halftime

  • Conrad

    we are 2-0 in 2010 enough said

  • Sam

    Is it just me or is LLP the only one who seems to play better on the road, especially in big games/games in which we seemingly have no hope and then he burns los barcos by lighting it up from downtown and willing us to win. Clearly Peedi was the biggest contributor in this win, but LLP, man. If we could get this out of him consistently we would be so much better. At Indiana last year, @Minny last year, @PSU this year.

  • Old Style

    Just watched the replay. laughed all the way through the first half knowing they would eventually win and tried to read the comments here as they were posted during the game. I think Morris will be very good next year. He’s so much more athletic than the majority of the roster and plays good on the ball defense. It will just be a matter of developing his offensive game (aka shot).

  • Fab54ever

    I watched the game and then came on here to read the comments and can’t believe how funny this section was. So many people gave up on this team, as I might have in the 1st half. We all have to remember this is a live by the 3, die by the 3, type of team. We can look great at times and bad at times. But the lack of depth is still going to be an issue going forward. The lack of energy in the first half was stunning. If somebody doesn’t help Peedi inside its going to be a long year. Good win, move on from here and get ready for N’western on Sunday. Any road win is good and hopefully we can build from here. Finally it seemed as if this team might be coming together. Way to go John B keep the program moving forward.

  • Illini Fan

    I came on here to see the postings of fans for other teams and had done the same for Penn St. It is eerily strange how we are all lamenting the same issues-intensity, defense, running offense, some idiot wanting the coach fired, etc. I wonder what Michigan St. and OSU fans complain about, bad coffee in the student center?