Many of my ‘essays’ here are filled with tempo free numbers. One thing has to be duly noted- I am in no way in opposition to the ‘eye’ test. In fact my feeling is the ‘eye’ test and numbers used together often render the most accurate assessment of a player or team.
On Tuesday Rutgers was handled by Penn State to the tune of a 66-49 decision. Before you could look at a statistic, watching this contest at Bryce Jordan Center, one could easily see the Nittany Lions played with more urgency and energy in this one. They were the dominant team-fired up and ready to play. Rutgers was beaten on the boards, turned the ball over and had no answer for Penn State’s defense on Ron Harper Jr. (7 points on 2 of 9 shooting). Harper was taken out of it defensively by coach Micah Shrewsberry’s defense. No one else was able to step up as Cliff Omoruyi (12 points 12 boards) was the lone double figure scorer and bright spot for Rutgers, now 0-5 on the road. Rutgers never led. The score was knotted at four with just under 16 minutes left in the first half. At times early in the final half Steve Pikiell’s group looked as if they would make a run. Each time Penn State answered. Penn State came off a heartbreaking home loss to Purdue over the weekend. On this night there was no let down to speak of. Just Penn State coming out the aggressor, Now, the numbers:
Possessions: 65- a grind it out affair which is right in the comfort zone of both teams.
Offensive efficiency: Penn State 102, Rutgers 75- the numbers bear out what we saw. Rutgers offense was anemic.
eFG: Penn State 48%, Rutgers 38%
OREB Pct: Penn State 37%, Rutgers 28% - again, metrics back up what our eyes told us.
TO Rate: Penn State 20%, Rutgers 23%
Penn State had four in double figures led by Sam Sessoms (3 of 3 from deep) with 17 points. John Harrar, a 6’9" senior, did damage inside with a 16 point, 8 rebound outing. Several of Harrar’s put backs were momentum-killing back breakers for Rutgers.
Penn State is now 8-6 (3-3 B10). The Scarlet Knights saw a four game win streak ended, are now 9-6 (3-2 B10) with a trip to Maryland on Saturday. An arduous task but that’s life in the Big Ten.