ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Nearly two months ago, DeShawn Sims ravaged the Penn State frontcourt to the tune of 25 points on 12-for-17 shooting in a 64-55 Nittany Lion loss at the Bryce Jordan Center. Knowing fully what Sims could do, the Lions traveled to Crisler Arena on Saturday with a plan to limit one of the Big Ten's best post players.
"Drew [Jones] and [Andrew] Ott played a very good defensive game on him," forward Jeff Brooks said. "We definitely worked on it in practice with the help side and attack side, making sure we had guys there to make sure he couldn't dribble or make a shot or anything like that. That's what we did, our guards came down and helped on Sims and made him force it out."
Headed by a gritty defensive effort by Jones, Penn State held Sims to 10 points on 4-for-10 shooting. On the season, the Wolverine forward is averaging 14.5 shots per game, and the fact he had less didn't escape Penn State coach Ed DeChellis.
DeChellis credited Jones for his work, saying the coaching staff had been on the junior since Thursday to prepare for Sims. Aside from the man defense played by Jones and Ott, the Penn State guards were aggressive in swarming Sims anytime the big man touched the ball.
"If he caught the ball, we were down in there digging it out," DeChellis said. "We weren't going to let him catch and turn and try and score. Our guards were pretty good defensively as well, just running in and trying to get the ball out of his hands and pulling on hands, and we were going to live with a couple of those fouls."
Attacking the ball meant the Lion guards would be called for reach-in fouls, but DeChellis said he didn't care about piling up fouls. Tim Frazier was whistled twice for grabbing Sims' forearm, but it went along with Penn State's plan of attack.
Junior guard Talor Battle said anytime Sims got the ball meant an automatic double team from Penn State. Doubling Sims left one of Michigan's perimeter players, usually freshman Darius Morris, open, but Battle said the Lions were more than willing to let Morris try and beat them.
"That was a main focus. [Sims'] a great player and I've been mentioning, I think he's the best post man -- getting the ball in the post and letting it work out guy -- in the league," Battle said. "We didn't want to give him any opportunity. It's not like we tried to totally shut him down, we just didn't let him shoot the ball, that's the key thing."
All season, DeChellis has said Jones plays better when he rebounds and plays defense and the junior was fired up, showing emotion when he was called for a foul and getting physical going for boards. Jones' defense parlayed into a 10-point, 5-for-9 shooting night to go with four rebounds.
The more success the Lions had on Sims, the more aggressive Jones got, meeting the Michigan senior further and further off the block. Jones playing Sims far from the basket was part of the Lions gameplan, and it proved its effectiveness when with a little more than eight minutes left in the second half, Sims rushed a well-contested 18-foot jump shot that missed.
"The coaches, in particular Coach [Jon] Perry, he said make an emphasis on playing him outside," Jones said. "It's a lot harder to feed the post when the guy is playing high side so I tired to make a concerted effort to do that and contest his jump shots and not let him get easy looks. He got a couple baskets but for the most part as a team we did a good job on him."