Pittsburgh area ATH, J.P. Holtz commits to Penn State
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Penn State has beaten Pitt for another blue chip WPIAL player out of the Panther’s backyard yet again.
John Paul Holtz, or J.P. for short, out of Shaler Area HS will be Penn State’s 12th member …

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PSU Falls Apart Late, Lose to Buckeyes

Submitted by on February 25, 2009 – 12:51 pmNo Comment

Penn State 30 29 59
Ohio State 32 41 73

When Penn State fell behind early, it wasn’t the kind of deficit you can easily recover from.  After an early bucket to make it 3-2, Penn State couldn’t even hit the rim for close to 8 minutes.  We’ve all seen teams struggle to establish an offensive rythym, but never so much as the Nittany Lions did the early going.  They were turning the ball over before they could get a shot off, and when they did, someone just threw up an airball.  I’m not joking, either.  At one point, Penn State was 1-6 from the field, with 4 air balls and one shot blocked.  In the blink of an eye, if was 19-2, and the rout seemed to be on.

But it wasn’t.  Chris Babb came in off the bench and gave Penn State the spark they needed, with three 3-pointers spurring a Penn State comeback, and a 16-0 run that closed the gap to 1 point with 8 minutes remaining in the first half.  Penn State and Ohio State traded buckets after that point, and the Buckeyes held a slim lead of two points at the half.  Frankly, it should’ve been tied.  With 10 seconds left in the half, Talor Battle missed a jumper.  Chris Babb tried a tip in from about 8 feet away, not realizing that he had plenty of time.  After that Jeff Brooks grabbed the rebound, and threw up a quick shot of his own.  PSU had missed a great chance to tie it up.

But if you were a Penn State fan, you had to be thrilled with the score.  Let’s be honest, how many of you out there flipped the channel after Ohio State went on that early run, only to check back later, and couldn’t believe the score.  For a team that scored 17 points in their entire first half in their last game to put up 16 points in less than four minutes seemed impossible, but these Lions did it.  In the first half, it was Babb’s 9 and Cornley, playing in front of a “home crowd” of 350 of his closest friends and family, who also had 9, leading the way.

Out of the break, Penn State kept the momentum going, extending their lead out to 5 points, at 46-41.  But just seconds later, with the game at 46-43, the game turned, and it was an awful call by the referee, none other than Ed Hightower, that spurred Ohio State’s turnaround.

Jamelle Cornley missed a lay-up, but Andrew Jones was right there for the tip-back.  However, Ed Hightower and his band of merry little retards made an indefensible, horrendous, game-changing call.  They ruled Jones touched the ball while it was over the cylinder.  Not only was the ball clearly off the rim, but it was underneath it, too.  But taking those two points off the board would just be the first in a series of calls that pushed the Buckeyes over the top.

Over the last eight to ten minutes, the officials called every single hand check foul possible on the Nittany Lions.  In one ten-second stretch, questionable calls were made on the perimeter on both Chris Babb and Talor Battle.  But by this point it was too late.  Ohio State grabbed the lead, and maintained it at about 7 to 10 points over the last 5 minutes, not looking back once.  It’s tough to blame the loss on the officials, but after that tip, it seemed that Penn State was deflated.  It might not have been the reason we lost, but it definitely contributed.

But there are definite positives to find amongst the struggles of this team.  Chris Babb had another great game, scoring 9 points in 19 minutes.  Frankly, every minute that Danny Morrissey plays over Babb is a minute that shouldn’t happen.  Morrissey is a great kid and a hard worker, but at this point in his career, he is hurting Penn State when he’s out there.  He put up the same 9 points as Babb, but did it in 31 minutes, and played his usual poor defense.  Cam Woodyard didn’t even see the court today.  I’ve got to wonder what Ed DeChellis is thinking.  He went with a three-guard lineup for almost the whole game, Jackson and Brooks combined for 7 minutes, and not playing Woodyard makes even less sense given those details.

Talor Battle struggled to score today, with just 10 points on 4-11 shooting, but showed his versatility by adding 9 rebounds and 7 assists.  At the very least, he outplayed fellow Big Ten POY candidate Evan Turner, who scored just 6 points with 8 assists.  Andrew Jones had another double-figure game, 10 points and 6 rebounds, and didn’t miss from the field or the line.  In front of his friends and family, Cornley led Penn State with 11 points.

But there are, clearly negatives, too.  The free throw shooting was poor again.  Penn State only got to the line 7 times, and made just 3 of them.  Andrew Ott played 7 minutes and came thisclose to putting up a trillion.  And down the stretch, it seemed the Lions just collapsed.

But this team is hardly done for.  With three games left, including two very winnable ones against Indiana and Iowa, this team can finish no worse than 10-8.  Then there’s that Thursday night game against Illinois.  Winning that one could propel us into the tournament.  On the chance we don’t, and finish at 10-8, it will take at least one win in the Big Ten tournament.

I’ll have an article up this afternoon looking over the Big Ten bubble teams, but don’t fear guys.  We’re still right in that discussion.

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