To borrow a phrase from CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein, Sunday’s series capper between the Michigan Wolverines and the Penn State Nittany Lions was “the epitome of brutality.”
A back-and-forth start to the game gave way to an unthinkable 25-point Penn State run between the end of the first and start of the second halves, resulting in a stunning 83-61 loss for Michigan, one of the worst defeats this season.
Here’s how the game broke down:
You know, besides the giant, smoldering, radioactive crater that was the final four minutes, it was actually a pretty competitive game for a bit.
Initially, the major frustration was the Nittany Lions’ seemingly endless responses to runs by the Wolverines. After Jett Howard started Michigan’s scoring efforts with back-to-back three-pointers, Penn State guard Jalen Pickett responded with three straight makes for seven points. When Howard again went on a solo 7-0 run, the Nittany Lions largely negated the streak with an immediate 7-2 streak of their own.
Towards the end of the half, the streaky performances of both teams seemed to settle into a back-and-forth contest that leaned slowly but surely in the direction of the Wolverines. With 4:34 left on the clock, Howard nailed a clutch three pointer to bring the game to just one point.
And then all hell broke loose.
Five — count em, five — straight makes from beyond the arc for Penn State turned a one-point game into a 16-point blowout on a dime. All told, the Nittany Lions made all seven of their final shots in the half, while Michigan made just 1-of-6. In short, a complete and utter disaster for the Wolverines.
Statistically, Howard led the Wolverines’ scoring efforts with 18 points, while Kobe Bufkin and Terrance Williams II tied for the team lead in rebounding with three boards each.
If you hoped the halftime break would provide a reset of the momentum, Penn State wasn’t listening.
Coming out of the locker room, the Nittany Lions went right back to the well, going on a 8-2 run in the first four minutes that brought the total scoring streak across both halves to an inconceivable 29-4 run.
Even after the end of that run for the Penn State, the scoring streaks just kept on coming for them. A 9-0 run midway through the second half pushed the lead for the Nittany Lions over 30 points — the largest deficit for Michigan since Arizona State in November.
Though the Wolverines were able to cut the lead down from that lofty peak, it wasn’t much of a consolation prize as Penn State still left the floor with a 22-point victory — the largest victory over Michigan in Nittany Lions history.
The epitome of brutality.
Statistically, Howard was far and away Michigan’s scoring leader with 21 points on 8-for-13 shooting. Bufkin and Williams II were unable to break their tie in rebounds, and finished with six boards for the team lead.
The Wolverines stay on the road for a second consecutive game, traveling to Evanston to cap the series against the Northwestern Wildcats on Thursday, Feb. 2. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST and will be televised on ESPN2.