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Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lions Fall 70-64 At Nebraska

on January 10, 2019 11:00 PM

Late in Penn State's eventual 70-64 loss to Nebraska a contested Cornhusker three soared through the air.

It bounced off the rim.

The backboard.

And then the rim three more times before rolling in.

Meanwhile, Penn State was called for a foul, and Nebraska retained possession.

And I wondered why I had never seen Pat Chambers cry before.

It seems like it would be about due. At Maryland, two late and very deep threes sank the Nittany Lions, not to mention a massive disparity in fouls. Against Indiana, it was Penn State leaving Chambers helpless as the Nittany Lions missed free throw after free throw, eventually losing by a basket.

There are a finite number of ways to lose a basketball game, and Penn State has found all of them.

To be sure, sitting at 7-9 on the year the Nittany Lions pretty much only have themselves to blame for their record. Penn State shot 36% from the field on Thursday night, 58% from the line while star forward Lamar Stevens went 6-of-20 for 13 points while Josh Reaves led the way, 4-of-7 from beyond the arc for 20.

All of this -perhaps even in spite of this- gave Nebraska just a two point, 33-31 lead heading into the half.

Penn State's offense never really got rolling, but Penn State's defense did what it always has, keeping the Nittany Lions in the game forcing eight turnovers while 14 rebounds from Mike Watkins paved the way for 17 second chance points.

But that three fell, and while it didn't end the game, it did little to help Penn state win it.

In total it makes one wonder what Penn State can do differently. The sense of Chambers Fatigue is a very real climate online, but the Nittany Lions are rarely resorting to the Talor Battle era 30-foot hero ball. They just don't make shots. Near, far, close and from deep. They get bad bounces, they get good rolls. None of it ever seems to matter.

And of course people will call -perhaps not entirely without cause- for Penn State to part ways with Chambers. It is hard to know what that will do though. There is a doctoral thesis to be written on why Penn State basketball has no good reason to spend millions on a coaching staff. But what would that coach do differently? It's not as though the Nittany Lions aren't shooting free throws in practice, putting up shots in their spare time. Maybe a better Xs and Os mind, but is it a bad scheme that misses an open shot? Is there a coach that can recruit Philadelphia better and bring a different mindset to the game?

It's not wrong to say that better players ought to equate to better results and that comes down to coaching. And with the eventual departures of Stevens, Reaves and likely Watkins, the larger issues will grow no smaller in 2020, the need for coaching no less. So maybe change, any kind of change, is what jumpstarts things.

But I've also seen the ball bounce five times and roll in, not out. Not much coaching can do about that.

There is a joke among some media members that God hates Penn State basketball. And while it seems unlikely that he cares about basketball in the first place, if he does, he certainly hasn't done Penn State many favors.

He certainly didn't on Thursday night.

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