Wake Up, Penn State: Lions Have a Basketball Team Too!

Brett LissendenSenior Analyst IJanuary 7, 2009

There's nothing better to brighten your spirits after a disappointing Rose Bowl loss like the excitement of a basketball team off to its best start in a very long time.

Last night Penn State defeated No. 14-ranked Purdue by a score of 67-64. 

The Nittany Lions are now 13-3 on the season and 2-1 in the Big Ten. Their one loss in Big Ten play came at Wisconsin in a very close game, one of the absolute toughest places to play in the entire country.

Walking into the Bryce Jordan Center last night, it was difficult to tell whether the game was in Happy Valley or in West Lafayette. The PSU fans barely outnumbered the Purdue fans; the only difference was that most of the Purdue fans were forced to sit in the upper deck.

But the lack of home support didn't affect the PSU team. Penn State played well in nearly every aspect of the game.

PSU got out to a 14-0 start to let the Boilermakers they weren't going to lay down like last season's game at the BJC.

Penn State's big three led the way, as Talor Battle, Stanley Pringle, and Jamelle Cornley accounted for 49 points in the effort.

Penn State's defense played tremendously and was responsible for stifling a Purdue comeback, as they held Purdue scoreless for over eight minutes in the second half.

Penn State got big games from several role players.

Andrew Jones had 12 rebounds in the game, most coming on offense, to go along with six points.

Jones' backup, Andrew Ott, also had a key offensive rebound and put-back in the first half to help maintain the PSU lead.

Senior Danny Morrissey, who had struggled mightily in the last several games, hit some big shots and played very tough defense on Purdue's leading scoring in the game.  Morrissey finished the game with 10 points. 

This Penn State team is for real and exciting to watch. Both guards, Pringle and Battle, have the ability to drive to the basket on any play and both shoot very high percentages from three-point range as well.

Battle averages nearly 20 points per game on the season, even despite a poor eight-point performance in the loss to Wisconsin.

With 13 wins already, Penn State needs only three more to qualify for the NIT tournament, something PSU has done only once before under head coach Ed DeChellis (who is in his sixth season). 

If they continue to play like they did last night, Penn State also will have a great chance to be considered for the NCAA Tournament. 

PSU is in the midst of their toughest stretch of the season.

They next travel to No. 19-ranked Minnesota, followed by a home game against No. 12-ranked Michigan State. If the Lions can pull out another win in their next two, the team will have to start getting some national recognition.

Penn State students and fans provide one of the best atmospheres in collegiate athletics for their football team, but one of the worst for their basketball team.  

One can only hope that the basketball team's success will increase their support dramatically, and I challenge all those PSU fans who are able to come support the Lions!