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Michigan pulls away from Lions

For about 25 minutes Thursday, Penn State hung right with the sixth-ranked Michigan team it had beaten in late February. But the Wolverines pounded the offensive glass early and their offense heated up when it counted as they rolled to a 83-66 victory in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament at the United Center in Chicago. Conference player of the year Trey Burke led five Michigan players in double figures with 21 points, 13 of them during his team's 48-point second half.

Travis had a double-double early in the second half but Michigan had too much offense.

Top performers: D.J. Newbill had 20 points on 10-of-22 shooting for the Nittany Lions (10-21), who also got 15 points from Sasa Borovnjak and 12 points and 11 rebounds from Ross Travis.

The Wolverines (26-6), who shot 62 percent in the second half, got 15 points from both Tim Hardaway Jr. and Nik Stauskas, 11 from Jon Horford and 10 points and 11 rebounds from Mitch McGary.

What went right: Solid offensive nights from Borovnjak and Travis gave the Nittany Lions some inside-outside balance and Penn State took good care of the basketball (eight team turnovers). Newbill's mid-range game was on and Jermaine Marshall, who had an off night shooting the ball (3-of-13, eight points), stayed involved with seven assists. Penn State opened the game on a 14-3 run, then responded to a big Michigan run to stay within two points at the half.

What went wrong: Penn State did not protect the glass, allowing Michigan to grab a whopping 13 offensive rebounds and convert most of them. The Nittany Lions did a decent job of cutting off Burke's paths to the basket but his bigger teammates got too many shots at point-blank range, especially in the second half. Penn State applied some full-court pressure but could not throw the Michigan offense, which committed just three turnovers, out of rhythm. Penn State shot the ball well (48 percent) but had a lot of empty possessions that ended in quick shots.

Statworthy: Penn State fell in the opening round of the conference tournament for the 11th time in 16 seasons. … The Wolverines are 6-0 in opening-round Big Ten Tournament games under John Beilein. … Penn State was 5-of-8 at the free-throw line; Michigan was 19-of-23. … McGary and Horford combined for 16 rebounds and 9-of-12 shooting in 33 total minutes. … Penn State's starters combined to play 78 of a possible 100 total minutes.

Summary: An exciting start that included some excellent ball movement and spacing gave the Nittany Lions and their fans reasonable hope of a repeat upset but, sparked by McGary, the Wolverines stayed in the game with some nifty work on the boards until their dynamic offense could get rolling. This team has too many weapons to shut down once it gets rolling, and Penn State couldn't stop Michigan or turn it over. As they have all year, the Nittany Lions battled and played together but let the game get away from them and lacked the firepower to make up the difference. The team will take on a much different look next season when Tim Frazier returns but the progress made by Newbill, Marshall and Travis down the stretch should be something to build on.

Up next: Penn State will not be invited to a postseason tournament. Its season is over.

  • Travis finally showed some life the last few games which was good to see. Hopefully that gives him some confidence going into the offseason and start of next season. He has shown glimpses of the guy this team needs him to be. He can/should be in that 10ppg and 10rpg range. The team doesn't need him to be a major point scorer, just a guy that finshes around the basket, rebounds, plays good defense and runs the court well. Frazier, Newbill, Marshall and Travis is a good starting 4. That 5th guy is a major question mark at this point. It looks like it could be Graham by default. I'd be tempted to go small to start the season and start Taylor. A small lineup might not hurt us during most of the non conference and would allow us to run the floor, employ more pressure and play a more uptempo brand of ball. Just a few thoughts after watching the game.

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