Penn State played the game of its season Wednesday night and held on down the stretch for a stunning 84-78 upset of No. 4 Michigan at the Bryce Jordan Center. The Nittany Lions, who picked up their first Big Ten win of the season, connected on 10 3-point shots, six coming from Jermaine Marshall. The Wolverines (23-5, 10-5 Big Ten) shot 52 percent for the game but scored only three points over the final 2:51.
Marshall tied a career-best with six 3-pointers Wednesday and had a game-high 25 points. (Photo courtesy of Penn State Sports Information)
Top performers: Marshall had 25 points, 19 in the second half, and a huge layup in the final minute. He added six rebounds and three assists. D.J. Newbill had 17 points and five assists and Ross Travis had 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Nittany Lions.
Tim Hardaway Jr. led Michigan with 19 points and seven boards and Trey Burke had 18 points and six assists (and six turnovers).
What went right: Penn State, for the first time this Big Ten season, made shots when it needed to and had balance; in addition to the three players above, seniors Nick Colella and Sasa Borovnjak had nine points each and made some clutch free throws. The Nittany Lions' full-court pressure helped generate six steals and 20 points off turnovers and helped thwart Michigan's momentum at several junctures. Chambers made the most of his short bench and, in a rarity, Penn State stayed out of foul trouble.
What went wrong: Once again, the Nittany Lions gave up a lot of points, and though they had terrific energy on defense all night, they left Hardaway wide open for a number of threes, left the paint open for several Michigan layups and let Burke get his even though they focused their defense on him. Penn State lost the battle on the glass 37-30 and allowed the Wolverines to grab 14 offensive boards. The Nittany Lions' comeback was remarkable but falling into 15-point holes late in the second half against teams as talented as Michigan is a risky formula.
Statworthy: Penn State, which had been out-scored by an average of nearly 12 points per game at the foul line during the last six games, had as many made free throws Wednesday (20) as Michigan attempted. … Only seven Nittany Lions saw action and all five starters played at least 31 minutes. … Burke, the nation's leader in assist-to-turnover ratio entering the game, had six turnovers and six assists. … Penn State had a season-low 17 personal fouls.
Quotable: "They're playing great team basketball and they beat us fair and square, and in the last 10 minutes, really outplayed us. They did a great job on Trey Burke. Their guys hit shots that they can hit. … You just don't win, I don't care what the team's record is, when you play like we did the last 10 minutes." -- Michigan coach John Beilein
"It feels really good. To be 0 and whatever we were and come out and never give up, our team never held our head in any game. We never stopped fighting. We believed in our foundation and it really paid off." -- Penn State guard D.J. Newbill
"We watched film and the little plays we need to make. When the game came down the stretch, we made those plays, mainly stops and rebounds." -- Penn State guard Jermaine Marshall
"it's great to feel victory again. It's been so long. It's great to feel a win. And it's great for them. They put the work in." -- Penn State coach Patrick Chambers
Summary: Chambers' promise that the Nittany Lions could compete if they made some shots held true, but only because they did a lot of other things right as well, such as sharing the basketball, making key free throws and, most importantly, coming up with some key stops. It was an incredible performance by a team that has had every reason to give up during the last two months and had plenty of reasons to fold on several occasions Wednesday night. That they didn't says as much about Chambers' ability to drive a team as it does about the gritty players who finally got their first conference win.
Up next: The Nittany Lions visit Minnesota at 3 p.m. Saturday.
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