Penn State men’s basketball dropped its annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge game Wednesday night, losing 63-58 to the Miami Hurricanes.
Neither team could get its offense going in the early going of the game, with both the Hurricanes and Nittany Lions struggling to make shots, no matter if they were open or contested.
Miami was able to get some offense thanks to the unlikely contributions of redshirt senior Sam Waardenburg, who scored 11 points in the early portion of the game, despite averaging only 6.1 points per game entering the contest. The Nittany Lions were unable to match Waardenburg’s early output, converting on only 38% of their first half field goals.
Miami struggled as well, converting on only 34%, but two more made 3-pointers than Penn State and two extra free throw attempts allowed the Hurricanes to head into the half with a 29-23 lead.
Penn State was able to get its offense rolling in the second half once it saw Miami build its lead to eight at 38-30. The Nittany Lions scored 15 of the next 17 points to take the lead by five.
The Hurricanes responded with a run of their own, and more specifically, redshirt senior Kameron McGusty had a run of his own. McGusty scored the game’s next seven points to give the Hurricanes a 47-45 lead.
Miami was able to hang on from there, closing out the 63-58 victory over the Nittany Lions, who fell to 4-3 on the season.
Player of the game
Senior center John Harrar: The Nittany Lions struggled to shoot for most of the game and couldn’t hit open shots from beyond the arc. That meant they would need extra opportunities to score and would need to work hard to get open looks around the rim. Harrar was able to mask some of those deficiencies from the floor by putting in the type of effort needed to get second chances. He was efficient as a score, using his brute strength in the post to create space for himself. He finished the game with 16 points making all six of his six attempts from the floor in the process. Without his scoring the team wouldn’t have been able to keep the game close for the stretch run.
Stat of the game
25: That was Penn State’s percentage from beyond the arc in the game. The Nittany Lions took 24 shots from 3-point range in the game, only making six. If that second number is higher, the result is a much different one. And while the shots weren’t falling, it wasn’t necessarily because the looks weren’t good ones. Many of them were, but they didn’t go in for a team in desperate need of made shots. Penn State has better shooters than the way the group shot Wednesday night, but it doesn’t have the type of elite shooting that can carry a team night in and night out. That leaves the Lions more susceptible to losses like this one.
vs. Ohio State: Penn State follows the loss to Miami with another home matchup on Sunday. The Nittany Lions will open their Big Ten slate against the Ohio State Buckeyes at 7:30 in the Bryce Jordan Center. The Buckeyes are fresh off their own Big Ten/ACC Challenge game, an upset victory over top-ranked Duke Tuesday night.
The game will also feature a reunion of sorts for Penn State, with former Nittany Lion Jamari Wheeler making his return to University Park on the court for the first time since he transferred to Ohio State earlier in 2021.