Watching the action unfold Saturday at the Bryce Jordan Center, two thoughts kept emerging over and over:
— This is a fun team to watch.
— Micah Shrewsberry is going to lead Penn State to a whole lot of victories.
There was never a point when you felt Purdue would make a run and put the game away. The vibe wasn’t that the No. 3 team in the country would eventually pull away, that the game was always on the brink of getting away from the Nittany Lions.
Penn State battled Purdue. On the glass. In transition. And everywhere else. The Nittany Lions made seven straight shots to make it a two-point Purdue lead at the under-4 media timeout (64-62), hitting a barrage of jumpers.
However, Purdue closed on a 10-2 run, bouncing back from a home defeat to Wisconsin earlier in the week. Following the game, a 74-67 win for Purdue, Penn State head coach Micah Shrewsberry said: “I hate losing, but we were a good version of ourselves. We left everything on the court. We’ll get back to work tomorrow and get ready for Rutgers.”
Penn State equaled Purdue in both rebounds (30) and assists (14) — though the Nittany Lions committed three more turnovers (11-8) — and Penn State led by as many as seven in the first half. Our full photo gallery of the game is on Facebook.
Saturday would’ve been the first home victory over a Top-3 opponent in program history, though you get the feeling this team is perhaps further ahead of schedule with its first-year head coach than some may have expected.
Shrewsberry didn’t appear for his postgame media availability right away. He understandably took some time to catch up with Purdue head coach Matt Painter, who hired Shrewsberry onto his coaching staff at Purdue twice. Painter is perhaps Shrewsberry’s biggest mentor, and Penn State’s head coach acknowledged again Saturday that Painter has helped him throughout his career.
Painter shared some stories from practice. Beyond that, Shrewsberry didn’t share much of what the two discussed. Part of me wanted to ask the details of their conversation, though Shrewsberry going against his former team wasn’t the headline from Saturday.
Shrewsberry’s current team receives top billing.
Strange as this sounds, Saturday was the first hoops game I’ve seen in person this season (a four-hour layover in Dulles on Sunday precluded attending that day’s game against Indiana). Attendance at the BJC surpassed 10,000, and hopefully many people shared my thought leaving the arena:
I need to come back, and soon.
That next opportunity arrives Tuesday, when Penn State hosts Rutgers with a 6:30 p.m. tipoff at the BJC.
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