But none of it seemed to matter for Penn State against No. 14 Purdue at the sparsely populated Jordan Center Tuesday night. With the students away on semester break and attendance whittled even further by an ice storm, the Nittany Lions muscled out a 67-64 win.
And we do mean muscled.
State struggled from the floor (39 percent), the arc (six treys in the game) and the free-throw line (57 percent), but demolished the Boilermakers on the offensive glass (22-6) to compensate for all of the lousy shooting.
Purdue, which overcame a 15-point first-half lead and actually led by five midway through the second half, fell to 11-4 and 0-2.
The Boilermakers were without starters Robbie Hummel (back spasms) and Chris Kramer (sprained left foot), and seemed to be out of rhythm from the start. Penn State opened with the 14-0 run, not so much because it was hot from the field, but because it controlled the boards.
The Nittany Lions had a 10-2 rebounding edge while building the early lead, as center Andrew Jones consistently kept the ball alive. He had nine rebounds in 14 minutes in the first half.
Coach (Ed DeChellis) talked about throwing the first punch, Battle said. And we did that.
I think Drew Jones was unbelievable on the glass, DeChellis added.
State only received serious offensive production from three players in the first 20 minutes -- Battle (15), Pringle (10) and forward Jamelle Cornley (10) -- but it was enough as it took a 41-33 advantage into the break.
All told, the Lions had a staggering 15 offensive boards in the first half, leading to 14 second-chance points. To put that into prespective, PSU entered Tuesday's action averaging 11.2 offensive rebounds per GAME, which ranked third in the Big Ten.
The Boilermakers regrouped in the second half -- for a while. Down 46-39, they began making shots from everywhere on the floor, using a 16-5 run to take a 55-51 lead with 10:21 left.
Lewis Jackson during
the Purdue rally.
But from there, the Lions picked it up defensively. After experimenting with a zone earlier in the half, State went back to man-to-man and held Purdue scoreless for the next eight minutes.
The Lions were not exactly lighting it up offensively themselves. Even the key shot down the stretch -- a Danny Morrissey 3-pointer -- bounced high off the rim before dropping through the net for a 64-55 lead with 2:53 left that all but sealed the deal.
The only run that really counts is the last one, Battle said. And we were fortunate to make that one and walk out with a win.
Though the game was anything but pretty, the Nittany Lions made no apologies for the way they gained the victory.
We know how to win now, Morrissey said. That's something we didn't know how to do last year.
The kids have paid the price to win, DeChellis said. They're going to play hard and they don't want to be denied.
Jones had a game-high 11 rebounds, including a clutch stick-back after Cornley missed a late free throw. Battle's stat line also included nine assists and five rebounds.
E'Twaun Moore paced Purdue with 21 points and was good on 3 of 6 triples.
• Jones dominated Purdue's big man, JaJuan Johnson. Johnson finished with seven points and two rebounds. For two days in practice he heard me say how great JaJuan Johnson is, DeChellis said. I guess he got tired of it.
• Cornley was held scoreless in the second half in large part because he never really attempted to establish post position. Everything he attempted to do was facing the bucket, and it led to four second-half turnovers and only two shot attempts (both missed).
• The Lions continue to be a heart attack waiting to happen at the line. They made only 13 of 23 in the game and 7 of 16 in the second half. Battle and Pringle combined to make 13 of 16 freebies in the game. The rest of the team was 0 of 7.
• Sophomore forward David Jackson, a former starter, continued to struggle. He was 0 of 4 from the field and 0 of 2 from the stripe in 14 minutes. His replacement in the lineup, sophomore Jeff Brooks, was also 0 of 4 in 14 minutes.
• Because the small forwards were struggling, DeChellis used a three-guard attack for much of the game. Morrissey joined Battle and Pringle on the floor, and came through by making 4 of 6 shots, 2 of 4 triples and snaring four rebounds. He also played well defensively.
• Twenty minutes before tip, there were about 375 people in their seats. Attendance was listed at 4,404.
• There was no band on hand. Instead PSU used piped-in music.
• About 50 Purdue students made the trip to Happy Valley but were relegated to the upper deck. They had a couple of vulgar chants toward Pringle that could be heard throughout the arena because it was so empty.
• Penn State is off until Sunday, when it faces Minnesota on the road (3:30 p.m. tip, BTN).