Sorry State

Penn State’s stranglehold on 11th-place in the Big Ten is as safe as ever. The Nittany Lions rolled over against sad-sack Purdue in West Lafayette Wednesday night, falling 77-50 and taking a major step toward securing their fourth straight last-place showing in the league.

The Boilermakers entered the game at 1-8 in the Big Ten, while PSU, rested after a bye, was 1-7. They were 11th and 10th in the conference, respectively. Since this is the only regular-season meeting between the two, the game was fairly billed as a battle for the basement.

In that respect, Ed DeChellis’ team won in a knockout.

“It was a game they had to have and a game we had to have,” the coach told the Penn State Radio Network. “At the end of the day, they wanted it more and were playing to win. We were playing to play.”

The game figured to feature a showdown of two of the Big Ten’s top power players, Boilermaker Carl Landry (the league’s leading scorer) and Nittany Lion Aaron Johnson (the top rebounder). It never materialized. Highlighted by a series of dunks, Landry cut loose for 24 points and eight rebounds, and actually appeared to toy with Johnson at times.

Johnson, meanwhile, went 0-6 from the floor and didn’t tally a point for only the second time in his three seasons in Happy Valley. He entered as PSU’s leading scorer, hitting for 13.8 points per game.

The Lions’ second-leading scorer, freshman wing Geary Claxton, didn’t do much better, going 2 of 14 from the floor. Starting point guard Ben Luber was 1 of 9.

Behind David Teague’s long-range shooting, Purdue (6-15) opened the game with a 13-1 run. Penn State never recovered. It was 35-20 after a monster follow jam by Landry to end the first half, and it would have been worse had Lion reserve guard Danny Morrissey not knocked down four 3-pointers in the period.

“The first five minutes dictated what we did the rest of the game,” Morrissey told the network. “We didn’t play very hard. It was effort, really.”

Morrissey went 5 of 9 from the arc in the game for a team-high 15 points. Fellow rookie Mike Walker pitched in with 10, including five early in the second half that cut the lead to 37-27. But behind Landry and Teague (a career-high 25), Purdue promptly motored away and never looked back.

“There were two guys we had to guard: Teague and Landry,” DeChellis told the network. “Two guys we had to take out of the game. ... Obviously we didn’t do a good job preparing.”

The 7-17 Nittany Lions, riding a string of 29 straight Big Ten road losses, will attempt to rebound against Ohio State at the Jordan Center Saturday. DeChellis, who has attempted to stay positive with his young outfit, admitted the most recent debacle is trying his patience.

“I’m disappointed with them,” he told the network. “... Tonight, I’m not proud of anything. We as a group did not do what we needed to do or perform the way we needed to perform.”


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