This one was never remotely close. Mick Cronin's teams are well known for their defensive acumen and it was on full display today, as Cincinnati stifled Penn State en route to an easy 71-50 victory in the consolation game of the Hall of Fame Tipoff Classic. The Bearcats flexed their muscle and bruised the Lions into an early submission on the back of a 19-3 run that spanned a huge chunk of the first half. UC's Kyle Washington dominated Penn State's big men, posting an effortless 16 points and 14 rebounds.
Shep Garner's play was perhaps the only bright spot in a dismal afternoon for Penn State. The junior rebounded from a poor showing against Duke on Saturday with 20 points on 7-15 shooting from the floor and four triples. Unfortunately for Penn State, Isaiah Washington's super-garbage time make was their only other three-point bucket on the day. Shooting was far from the only issue though - 15 first half turnovers was very uncharacteristic of this young team, and more than anything the Lions' lackadaisical approach to ball security doomed them to an 0-2 weekend.
Cincy controlled the tempo and forced Penn State to play in the halfcourt, where they were clearly short on ideas. The Lions notched just five assists on the day, and you chalk that up to a lack of opportunities on the fast break. You have to play with great spacing and move the ball with purpose against a team like Cincinnati; Penn State did neither in this game. Pat Chambers needs to come up with a better plan B on offense when the game is played a such a slow pace.
- Lamar Stevens picked up two fouls less than two minutes into the game and was understandably benched for much of the first half. He's too valuable to this team as a mid-range scorer and rebounder to miss large portions of the first half. Davis Zemgulis is far from a like-for-like replacement for Stevens and right now he's not much of anything without a falling three-point shot.
- Tony Carr struggled to create against Cincinnati's extended defense, but for the most part he kept his composure to the tune of one lone turnover. He should be a better player in the long term for this frustrating experience.
- Nazeer Bostick saw extended action in the stead of Washington, who is still recovering from an injury suffered prior to the tournament. Bostick acquitted himself reasonably well though, and it wouldn't be much of a surprise if the third Roman Catholic freshman continues to get more minutes.
- PSU's defensive effort is going to make for some painful film study this week ahead of Colgate's visit to the BJC on Wednesday. The #AttitudeClub was seemingly beaten to every loose ball and gave up ten offensive rebounds. Josh Reaves can't get healthy soon enough.