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Penn State Basketball Enters Conference Play with Major Concerns

Penn State Basketball

Penn State Basketball head coach Micah Shrewsberry (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire)

Penn State Basketball finished the calendar year with a 10-3 (1-1) record after a sloppy 60-46 win over Delaware State Thursday afternoon.

The Nittany Lions finished off their non-conference schedule against a weak 1-12 Delaware State team who is ranked 358th out of 363 in the NET Rankings. The Hornets lone win was against Division 3 Immaculata and is now 0-11 against Division 1 opponents.

Micah Shrewsberry’s squad entered as a 30-point favorite and this performance certainly raises some questions about how this team is progressing. Some takeaways from the tough showing.

Here are key takeaways from Penn State Basketball’s win over Delaware State

Poor Shooting Continues

The Nittany Lions shot 36.7% from the field and 25% from three in this matchup and couldn’t get anything going offensively all afternoon.

This is following a performance against Quinnipiac where Penn State shot 41% and 20% from beyond the arc. It is hard to say what the reasoning is for the poor shooting the past two games. It could be the extended time off between games that could be throwing the team out of rhythm.

Playing against subpar opponents is always tough on motivation as well. This game had a different feeling from the Quinnipiac game. At least in that matchup the offense picked up in the 2nd half and were only 15-point favorites entering the game against a solid mid-major opponent.

Delaware State is far from a respectable opponent and the reason why the Nittany Lions were a 30-point favorite.

Penn State Basketball should have been able to work up and down the floor against this team and score closer to 100 points going deep into the bench. The fact that the starters had to play to the final whistle and the team could barely scratch the 60-point mark is frightening as Big 10 play is on deck.

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Playing to the level of competition

Shrewsberry’s squad has had a tendency of playing to the level of their competition all season.

After losing at home to a weakened Michigan State team who was missing their best player, Penn State followed it up by beating a ranked Illinois team on the road.

The Nittany Lions also lost by 2 points to Virginia Tech (11-2) and lost by 7 in double overtime to Clemson (10-3) on the road earlier in the non conference. At the same time the Nittany Lions only defeated Lafayette (2-11) at home by 13 and the 14-point win against Delaware State (1-12) today.

What exactly does this all mean?

The inconsistency so far this season is setting up for a stressful remaining conference schedule.

Part of the team’s success and failure does ride with the ability to shoot the three, but a lot of it is just the confidence the players are riding on a game-by-game basis.

Penn State Basketball could lose to Iowa (8-5) at home and Michigan (7-5) on the road these next two games. At the same time, they could beat #1 Purdue (13-0) at the Palestra and #16 Indiana (10-3) at the BJC the following two games.

All this team must do is beat the average Big 10 teams and the Nittany Lions will be dancing in March. That starts this weekend against the Hawkeyes in what could be considered a must win game.

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Penn State welcomes Iowa 8-5 (0-2) to the Bryce Jordan Center Sunday January 1st at 5:30pm and can be seen on BTN.

 

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