[Marc-Gregor Campredon - file]

Penn State 75, Michigan 69 Comment Count

Alex Cook February 12th, 2019 at 10:57 PM

John Beilein got ejected at halftime, drawing technicals for complaining about a missed offensive foul call on Penn State, and the Nittany Lions effectively had a 16-point lead to start the second half after the ensuing free throws. Penn State managed to stave off a Michigan comeback; the last-place team in the Big Ten beat the first-place team. Lamar Stevens shouldered a heavy burden for PSU and had an impressive game: 26 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, and three blocks. Myles Dread chipped in five threes for the Nittany Lions, and Charles Matthews was the bright spot for Michigan.

Penn State was the better team on both ends in the first half. The game was tied at seven before a Dread three pointer immediately following a Zavier Simpson turnover keyed a 10-2 Nittany Lion run.  PSU didn’t trail for the rest of the game. Early, Penn State conceded open threes to Simpson and he obliged — but missed all four attempts in the first eight minutes of the game. As Penn State extended its lead over the latter part of the half, Stevens won a head-to-head matchup on the offensive end against Jon Teske as Penn State played its best player — who’s really more of a physical combo forward — at the five and isolated him from the perimeter against Teske.

Meanwhile, Penn State’s defense, which featured switching on nearly every screen, really bothered Michigan. The Wolverines were held to 0.81 points per possession in the first half, and while the scoring eventually ramped up (especially during the free throw parade at the end of the game), the Nittany Lions defended well through the entire shot clock and forced the Wolverines into difficult shots throughout the game. Between a few uncharacteristic open floor turnovers that led to open looks and some offensive rebounds from Penn State (which included a few caught airballs), Michigan was at a substantial shot margin disadvantage at halftime. As the half spiraled out of control, Matthews and Ignas Brazdeikis were on the bench with foul trouble.

Jordan Poole tried to go 2-for-1 at the end of the half, and was blocked — the possession eventually ended in a missed Simpson layup. That gave Penn State the last shot: Jamari Wheeler set a strong screen — one that should have been called a foul — on Simpson, and Rasir Bolton snuck in a finger roll before the buzzer. Beilein confronted a ref after the teams started heading to the locker rooms, was given a technical, and was given a second technical as he continued to argue while retreating. Saddi Washington stepped in as the acting head coach following the ejection. It was the same role he had in the pre-season trip to Spain with a recovering Beilein still back home.

Bolton hit three of the four technical free throws to push the score to 43-27. From there, Michigan battled to get back in the game, but was unable to get the deficit down to a single possession. Iggy committed a senseless foul on Josh Reaves as Reaves attempted a three-pointer and sat for much of the second half with three fouls. Michigan’s leading scorer finished with just six points in 17 minutes. Matthews played well in the first half and really shined in the second: he was the lone Wolverine who showed consistent aggressiveness when confronted with the physical Penn State defense and was the driving force behind Michigan’s comeback effort. He finished with an efficient 24 points.

Michigan held Penn State to five points over a nine minute stretch in the second half, and Matthews trimmed the Nittany Lion lead to 55-51 — by splitting two sets of free throws — with over eight minutes remaining. On the next possession, Stevens isolated from the right side of the floor, found Dread in the opposite corner, and the freshman knocked down the three over a Simpson contest. Jordan Poole (who shot 1-8 from behind the arc) missed a rebuttal, and the miss turned into a transition opportunity for Penn State — Mike Watkins followed a Stevens miss and the lead was back to nine. Michigan’s offense also went cold, as they only scored five points over a seven minute stretch.

The Wolverines broke out their trapping press after the under-four timeout and caused some havoc, but they were unable to create enough turnovers to come all the way back. Matthews kept attacking and scoring, but eventually fouled out with one of Michigan’s many intentional fouls. Penn State couldn’t make all of their free throws — they wound up missing 13 total over the course of the game — and they still managed to win. A step-back Simpson three cut the lead to four with 30 seconds left, but Stevens knocked down both free throws on the next possession, then Simpson turned it over taking the ball up the court.

Much like Michigan State’s loss to Illinois last week, Michigan was ambushed on the road by a team with a deceptively bad record. Despite everything, Penn State still plays hard, they're considered to be a fairly decent team by the computers, and they earned a huge win in what’s been a pretty miserable season, one filled with close losses. The optics are certainly bad, and ultimately Michigan can’t afford to play as poorly as they did in the first half and still win on the road against anyone in the Big Ten. Had a couple plays unfolded differently — or had Beilein not been ejected (and Penn State given three points) — Michigan may have been able to come back, but in the end, they probably deserved to lose.

Michigan’s now tied atop the Big Ten with Michigan State, with Purdue a half game behind. The Wolverines welcome Maryland to Ann Arbor this weekend to start what will be a brutal six-game stretch to end the regular season.

[Box score after the JUMP]

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February 13th, 2019 at 8:08 AM ^

Fuck them.  We didn’t play our best ball, but that fucking group of refs can go fuck themselves.  Clearly cowards like their fathers before them.  Cunts.  Double dribbles, Zavier getting crushed (the one press he was fouled multiple times).  Fuck them and kiss my ass.  This is how I really feel.  

A Lot of Milk

February 13th, 2019 at 12:29 AM ^

If this game had been at any other team in the season, I wouldn't have been upset. But man, it would've been incredible to get the win tonight. We would have a game lead over MSU and a 1.5 game lead over Purdue. Now we have to win all of our home games (Maryland, MSU, Nebraska) and win at Minnesota and split between at Maryland and at MSU to likely get a share of the Big Ten. I don't see Purdue losing two more, so it was critical to win tonight so that we had some margin for error with our last two games. Instead, they now have to win two of their last three road games if they want any shot. Ugh, between this season and Jordan Morgan's missed layup, I'm gonna be sick if Beilein misses out on two big ten titles by the thinnest of margins 


February 13th, 2019 at 12:51 AM ^

It's one game, a road loss to a decent Big Ten team (their record is deceiving).  Michigan had a subpar game and Penn State played with a superior intensity with a lot of the balls and calls bouncing their way.  I don't think Simpson is going to have another 6 turnover game this year.  I don't think Poole is going to go 1-8 from three again this year.  I don't think other teams will convert several air balls into put backs again this year.   I don't think we will foul 3 point shooters multiple times again this year.  I don't think Ziggy will play only 17 minutes do to foul trouble again this year.  And I don't think Beilein will get 2 technicals and an ejection again this year.  I could go on and on.

Just a weird game.  


February 13th, 2019 at 7:47 AM ^

We were working on two days' rest; they were working on five, and at home. That was also the case with Iowa. People downplay such issues, but in the middle of winter with a six-man rotation I have to believe it may well be a factor, especially for X against a press. (You'll remember Iowa runs one, too.)

We get our own five-day rest now before MD, but will be going on just two days--if at home--against MSU. (I know, Minnesotat figures somewhere in there.)

This may be a year when, league title or not, it would be a good thing to bow out of the B1G tourney early and cop a lot of zs and have some great practices before working on a run in the NCAAs. 

Fans have to gird for multiple losses down the stretch here, though. Fun as the last two months have been, a few are probably coming. 


February 13th, 2019 at 10:05 AM ^

While it is unlikely Poole will go 1/8 on 3PA again, he does have 1/5, 1/4, 1/6, 1/5 performances in conference play.  His 3 pt. % in conference is down to 27.6%.  Excluding the outliers (Purdue 5/5, PSU last night 1/8), his conference % is 29.4%.  Defense travels, but we need Poole to get more consistent. Not having a credible threat from outside going to make it tough come tourney time.  Can't have Simpson taking 5-6 threes per game.  


February 13th, 2019 at 11:41 AM ^

The reason his 3PA shots seem broken directly relates to the type of shots he's attempting.  Last night, at least four of his 3-pointers were absolute horrible decisions.  Take just the two that helped turn a 4-pt deficit (and dwindling, with momentum) into a 9-pt deficit.  He was closely guarded, even doubled, for both.  Yet he took a couple of steps and flew into the air heaving the ball while unbalanced, not set, and still closely guarded (inches).  Both shots were incredibly early in the possession (first pass, I think), and they just ruined the flow of the game at that point - which was trending in M's favor.

I'll die on this hill: Poole cost the game last night on those two shots because he had to make it about himself.  Kid needs to mature before he'll ever be a consistent threat on the court.

L'Carpetron Do…

February 13th, 2019 at 3:54 PM ^

I missed most of the game last night but thought POole was pretty bad in the moments I did see. He can't shoot (iggy stinks lately too but that's another story).  And then you point out all the 1-for-whatevers he's had recently and I say 'that's about right'. He can't hit anything lately and I'm afraid teams are going to start treating him like Simpson. In that case you might as well put in Nunez.  

Iggy and Poole are the most important guys to this offense. If Michigan is going to score any points down the stretch, they have to figure it out. 


February 13th, 2019 at 12:52 AM ^

Have to hold serve at home and then win at least one on the road over these last six games.

It would be nice to win the Big Ten but it may be idealistic to think we’re taking all these games. Win all the home games and take a road game and that is basically what we all said would be good at the start of Big Ten play.

Yes, Michigan is going to have to improve offensively if we want to go anywhere in the postseason but we’re also not as bad as this loss makes us out to be.

Still time to get better in time for a March run to the second weekend and then from there who knows.

Gulo Gulo Luscus

February 13th, 2019 at 1:07 AM ^

Big Ten refs continue to frustrate but it was just an off night offensively and PSU made some big plays. 

Simpson got knocked around with no whistle a couple times and the shots didn't look bad, he just just couldn't hit anything and turned it over uncharacteristically. That was probably his worst game of the year. Things go sideways when the engine isn't running.

It's hard to find the right usage among Matthews/Poole/Iggy. In general I feel like a little needs to go away from Poole but maybe he can find his early season mojo again. Hard to say the other two are more deserving; may be an issue that all of them have instinct to be "the guy" but none have been consistent enough to earn that status. We kind of need two out of three to play well because we only go six deep. No one was in love with Brooks/Davis/non-Iggy freshman but most did not anticipate getting so little from the bench beyond Livers.

I'm not sure we can fix these issues at this point but the team has shown they can get hot and play with just about anyone. Hopefully they have another run down the stretch.


February 13th, 2019 at 1:32 AM ^

IMO, Stevens didn't have an impressive game at all.  It's easy to score 26 points on 29 shot equivalents.  The one thing I found interesting, though, is that he finished with twelve rebounds and zero fouls.

He's now deep into his junior year.  He's at 2.7 FC/40 this year, 2.9 last year, and 3.9 his freshman year.  In all that time, he's finished with zero fouls five times: his freshman year against Wright State and Illinois, last year against Fairleigh Dickinson and Oral Roberts, and tonight.  Suddenly, he's able to play an entire game without using his off arm to push off, without fouling on a layup or putback attempt, and without going over the back even once.  Well done, sir.  I'm sure that was legitimate.


February 13th, 2019 at 2:20 PM ^

Not sure I'd say it's easy to score almost 1 ppp against Michigan's defense with usage that high.  What was impressive is that he also had 2 Orebs, 3 assists and 0 TOs, which is why his Ortg was 111 which is very good against Michigan on such high usage.  That means he was responsible for well over 1 ppp.

Add in the rebounds and the blocked shots, and his overall game was super impressive.

Zero fouls does seem fishy and I didn't see the whole game to be able to tell whether there were some missed on him but the blocks I saw (I think the one on Livers on the break) were really good.


February 13th, 2019 at 4:43 PM ^

He definitely got Teske on the arm when he was going up for a rebound prior to one of the blocks.  The block itself was clean, but he should already have been whistled.

And, you're right, easy is an overstatement.  But I will take 26 points on 29 shots.  I like Michigan's chances when they make another team one-dimensional.  I will give him credit for the assists, though, because he definitely punished Michigan once or twice for a late rotation.


February 13th, 2019 at 1:54 AM ^

as good as teske has been, he needs to be more aggressive and own the rim on both the offensive and defensive end.  way too many easy bunnies given up tonite.  and a few easy buckets given up on offense.  teske, jump! !! leave the floor and several of those baskets get blocked and/or challenged better.  could have easily been a different result, despite the piss poor officiating.


February 13th, 2019 at 2:19 AM ^

Actually, I think Teske's ability to defend without jumping is one of his strengths.  He's able to alter shots without fouling in large part because he's set and can stay vertical.  Also, he's relatively immune to shot fakes.  He's 63rd in the country in block rate, at 8.1%; he's fourth in conference games at 7.3%.

PSU did not win this game on two-point shooting.  They shot 40% on 3s and 48% on 2s.  And they did not win this game on two-point shooting defense -- Michigan shot 62% (!) on 2s.

They won this game at the line and on the offensive glass, and Teske jumping wasn't going to help with either of those.  As Alex pointed out -- quite a few of the offensive rebounds were airballs that they caught.  Heck, PSU had one sequence where I couldn't tell if it was the worst alley-oop ever or the worst shot ever -- the guy sort of passed it at the basket; it hit the rim and bounced right to Stevens, who slammed it down.  There's not much you can do about that kind of thing.


February 13th, 2019 at 12:49 PM ^

If by at the line, you mean the three points gifted to them by Beilein, then yes, that was a factor.  But those four FTs and then about 10-12 in the last minutes are what put their FT volume so high.

I would argue this was won entirely on the glass.  Holding Michigan to only 4 OREBs and collecting 12 themselves (and going dead even on TOs) is what gave PSU 10+ more possessions that ended in shots/FTs.  That was the difference.  Very tough to overcome that against a decent team on the road.

Shame because Michigan wasted some really good offensive performances.  If this was a win, we'd be talking about Charles Matthews Being Back.  He was outstanding.  Iggy, Livers and Teske were efficient.  Only problems on offense were Simpsons TOs and Poole's very poor three point jacks, but M still scored more ppp than expected against a good defense (albeit propped up a bit by the frenetic finish).


February 13th, 2019 at 1:16 PM ^

I was thinking of twelve free throws in particular: the four technicals, two from the phantom call on Iggy (18' jump shot where he didn't touch the guy), and the six on the two fouls called against three point shooters.  IIRC, they made 9 of those 12 free throws.

Of the two three-shot fouls, the first call was awful -- Matthews was clearly avoiding the guy, and the shooter twisted his body in the air to force contact.  The second call was borderline, but not awful -- Iggy was way late closing out and did make legitimate contact, although the guy exaggerated it Poole-style.  The biggest problem I had with the second one was that PSU was able to do the same thing to a Michigan shooter -- I think it was Iggy, but it might have been Poole -- and there was no call.

PSU had a 60-54 lead with 5 minutes left -- well before desperation time -- so it's not unreasonable to say that the free throws had as much to do with the outcome as the OREBs.

Anyway, the point was that this game wasn't lost due to Teske not jumping or failing to alter shots. :)


February 13th, 2019 at 2:29 PM ^

Yes, good point about the fouls on threes.  Those were brutal.

1000000% agree with the point about Teske not jumping. 

To your point, he is good precisely because he contests shots without needing to jump.  That means he can stay on his feet and stay in front of guys like Happ through all their moves and shot fakes to make all their shots tough, not just the ones that he blocks. 

A lot of shot blockers will be way overzealous going for blocks and while they'll get a couple more, they get out of position and give up easy buckets on shot fakes or too many Kobe assists. 

Teske has a really good balance of contesting while also staying in the play.  That said, I think since the Iowa game they've gotten a little too conservative with him.


February 13th, 2019 at 6:56 AM ^

Didn’t watch this game.  Had a bad feeling about it all week, apparently for good reason.  A couple of thoughts, nonetheless.  1) You have to fuck up BAD in order for Beilein to engage in ejection-level conduct.  The refs should be doing some self-reflection.  2) I am more interested in a “three-peat” BIG tourney championship than I am the regular season title.  With the amount of single plays and terrible refs, winning the regular season is as much luck as anything else.  3). This is the time of year where I am really ready to see this team play out of conference in the tourney.  These teams know each other so well and are so familiar with what everybody runs, personnel, and tendencies that games really start to become slogs.


February 13th, 2019 at 11:15 AM ^

I don't think the expansion of the schedule is a problem.  Before PSU came into the conference, the conference schedule was a home-and-away round robin, and I don't remember the B1G teams struggling in the tournament back then. 

The difficulty this year is that the worst team in the B1G is Rutgers, who is #92 in KenPom.  There are 5 SEC teams below that, 3 ACC teams (including #176 Wake Forest), and literally half of the Pac 12.  So every B10 win is a quality win, and no loss is a truly "bad" loss.  I have no problem with our team getting challenged on a nightly basis.  It should prepare them well for the tournament, and it's not going to overly hurt them for the tournament.


February 13th, 2019 at 2:59 PM ^

Michigan games are slogs because they're a very slow-paced, defense-first team and they dictate the tempo against almost everyone.  In the NCAA tourney last year, Montana, Houston, FSU and Loyola were all "slogs", i.e. slow paced, low scoring, defensive battles. 

So no, non-conference games aren't going to change anything, at least against most teams. 

This is simply Michigan's style right now.  They are a slightly faster paced version of Virginia, like it or not. They are very similar to Wisconsin (minus the flopping), like it or not. 

They have sacrificed some of the offensive "beauty" we're used to seeing to play elite defensive players that have flaws on offense (Simpson, Matthews, Teske) and be an elite defensive team. Some people appreciate the defense and the winning, most casual fans do not, and that's totally understandable.


February 13th, 2019 at 3:32 PM ^

You just posted this because for some odd reason you want to argue.  I am not a "casual" Michigan basketball fan.  I have forgotten more about Michigan basketball than you have ever known.  I said nothing about "offensive beauty" nor did I comment on any flaws on offense.  I said I want to get to the time of year when they face teams who aren't as familiar with them.  You found a way to make that a controversial take.  Good job sport.


February 14th, 2019 at 12:59 AM ^

You made a comment that directly implied that getting out of conference and into the tournament would make games less of a slog.  The way slog is used around here is to refer to a slow, ugly, defensive battle. Also referred to here as a rock fight.  If that's not what you meant by slog, I apologize, and my comment wouldn't apply.

I merely pointed out that you might not want to count on Michigan being in fewer slow-paced, defensive battles in the tournament given Michigan's current style of play.

FWIW, one of the reasons I like the second go around of conference play is to see how coaches adjust from the first outing.  Chambers switched far more aggressively than he did the first game (and he's also playing Wheeler a lot more and played Watkins a lot less) and Beilein commented in his presser that the aggressive switching caught him off-guard.  So clearly the coaches don't know what their opponents are going to do.


Watching From Afar

February 13th, 2019 at 9:01 AM ^

Simpson can't shoot so sag off him.

Switch all of the screens because Michigan doesn't post up guys at all, especially Teske on PGs or have guys who can just rise up consistently.

If Poole and Iggy aren't shooting well that throws a wrench into the offense and kills spacing.

Having no reliable back up to Teske results in him having to do what he did against Wisconsin: passive early, giving up a lot of good shots and then if he can survive into the second half without 2 fouls then he can turn it on.

These are the same problems that have been around since the Big Ten schedule started and it's just something they have to work around with no shooting PG or back up C. Probably lost the Big Ten last night but can still finish with a 3 seed or better and hopefully go on a run again.

Rufus X

February 13th, 2019 at 9:50 AM ^

Agree to a point, but it looked like the all-switching defense caught us off guard in the first half (and Beilein admitted this in his presser).  Seemed like we mostly solved it in the second half - but turnovers and defensive lapses prevented us from coming all the way back.  I trust Beilein to craft the offense to cover up the deficiencies you pointed out, for the most part.  We just got in too deep of a hole in this one to recover.

Watching From Afar

February 13th, 2019 at 10:14 AM ^

but turnovers and defensive lapses prevented us from coming all the way back

Coming all the way back against PSU. This happens against a lot of tournament teams and there is no coming back. That's the whole problem, the offense can be worked around but it takes half-time adjustments and a lot of coaching now that teams have a full season of tape to watch. 1st game against Wisconsin was similar (went under screens, switched on P&R with Simpson) but Wisconsin's offense is slow and plodding (even if efficient) so they never ran away with it to Michigan's defensive credit. They don't currently have guys who can consistently take over and drag the offense to 1 PPP while the rest of the guys figure it out.

Don't get me wrong, I know Beilein is a great coach and this team is still very, very good. But they have deficiencies that aren't easy to cover up. You can cover up a freshman Stauskas who can't guard anyone or a back up C who commits fouls at a laughably bad rate, but you can't really cover up a PG who can't shoot (who has to play 35 minutes/game because his backup isn't there yet), a streaky wing who sometimes can't shoot (though Matthews was very good last night) another streaky wing who goes ice cold, another streaky wing who has to be the one to bail out the offense too much and a C that has to do it all while not fouling because his back ups aren't ready.

All of this sounds ridiculously negative for a 3 loss team. I'm not saying they're done. I'm saying the blueprint to beat them is there and much like football, if they run into a team who can consistently execute that blueprint (probably like 5-7 teams) I don't think Michigan has the change up to get themselves out of a corner unless Poole or Iggy go off.

matty blue

February 13th, 2019 at 11:38 AM ^

i think it's safe to say that yes, that's ridiculously negative for a 3-loss team that still has a meaningful shot at a 1-seed.

there's a blueprint to beat literally every team in the country.  force duke to shoot threes.  tempo virginia.  play an average game against gonzaga and wait for them to fold up like a cheap tent because they haven't beaten anyone worth a crap in three months.  every team has deficiencies - in duke's case, they sometimes look like a disinterested aau team, which they did for 32 minutes last night.

we were bound to come up flat at some point and cough one up.  it happens...but the odds that this happens in a b1g or ncaa tournament game are still very small.

Watching From Afar

February 13th, 2019 at 12:24 PM ^

 there's a blueprint to beat literally every team in the country

Of course there is, but not all things are created equal and all teams (Michigan included) are capable of making adjustments to different degrees. Teske doesn't post up after a switch on the P&R. Teams don't have to do anything to make his post ups difficult because he just doesn't do post ups. That's easy compared to keeping Duke out at the 3 point line because it takes little effort to force Teske into a post up.

Moreover, Duke can be a disinterested AAU team for 32 minutes and then decide to obliterate opponents off the face of the earth. Duke =/= Michigan and Duke's problems =/= Michigan's problems. Virginia is not really a comparison you want to make because their style (and kind of to a point Michigan's this year) is prone to flaming out in the tournament (to UMBC or others) or just losing to Duke because their offense can't keep up.

It's similar to Wisconsin in football. They don't really blow decent to good teams out because their offense kind of just plods along. If they get into a scrum against a team that can take out the running game (easier said than done) or get a lead, Wisconsin is in big trouble because their change up is to use their C option to try and win games. Problem is the step down from A to B is big, and B to C is even bigger. OSU's C option just crossed Michigan to death last fall.

we were bound to come up flat at some point and cough one up.

So it's not just a one off. Early season the team was gangbusters and ran good teams off the floor because they're well coached. Now there's tape and teams know Simpson didn't improve his shooting, Poole has to be the one to shoot over zones, and Teske is the entire 5 position on his own. The struggles repeat themselves when teams go under screens, play zone (this won't happen much because teams don't play it a ton anymore) attack Teske early, and generally make Poole and Iggy stand out at NBA range. The answer to those adjustments are more difficult when you don't have guys who can shoot you out of trouble consistently.

No one can expect Michigan to win by 15 every single game, that's ridiculous. But games are getting increasingly tighter when better competition arises and the tournament doesn't have PSU and Rutgers in the Sweet 16 or Elite 8. At this point the team is what are they are. No one is going to massively improve their 3P% and the rotation isn't going to expand to 9 guys.

Could very well get a good draw and go on a run.

Could also very well catch an athletic team with a decent coach before the Elite 8.