Penn State scored an impressive 47 points in the second half against Michigan State on Wednesday. A total of just seven of them came from players not named Jermaine Marshall or D.J. Newbill.
As coach Patrick Chambers put it after the nine-point loss, therein lies a major problem for the Nittany Lions.
“We can’t be a two-man show all season long,” Chambers said. “Defenses are going to key in on those two guys.”
Although the dynamic backcourt duo was not held in check much on Wednesday — both players netted career highs and combined for 56 points —the rest of the Lions’ scorers finished with just 16 points.
Chambers said the team will need more offensive depth as the conference season goes on and the Lions (8-9, 0-5 Big Ten) will get another shot to improve when they face Nebraska (9-9, 0-5) at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Marshall and Newbill have averaged more than half of the team’s offensive production in conference play, and their coach commended their most recent efforts against the No. 18 Spartans before addressing the opposite side of the story.
“They played great and they wanted to finish the game,” Chambers said. “They saw a good opportunity and I think we let it slip. But we need production…we need help from other positions. Guys need to step up.”
Following the loss of all Big-Ten guard Tim Frazier to a season-ending Achilles injury in November, much of the scoring was expected to come from Marshall and Newbill. However, the lack of a consistent third scorer has prevented the Lions from making any noise against their highly-touted Big Ten opponents.
This was especially evident against the Spartans, when shooting guard Nick Colella was the next leading scorer with a total of six points on three field goal attempts.
After a non-conference schedule that saw sporadic offensive spurts from Brandon Taylor, Ross Travis and Sasa Borovnjak, the three other starters have combined to average just 16.2 points in conference play.
Chambers said there are several reasons no one else has consistently stepped up offensively, but he hopes an additional scorer starts to emerge against the Cornhuskers.
“It’s youth and inexperience all wrapped up in one,” Chambers said. “I’m sure there’s going to be somebody that’s going to step up on Saturday. It would be nice if we all came together and got it done and had one really good game, but it’s got to be a consistency that we need on every single night.”
Though the Huskers are the lowest-scoring team in the Big Ten, they are the sixth- best defensive team in the conference, as they allow just 61.2 points per game, and held the Spartans to just 66 points earlier this week.
Despite the recent offensive struggles of the team overall, Newbill said after Wednesday’s game that the Lions are not overwhelmed with frustration and are continuing to look forward to attaining their first Big Ten victory.
“We are playing desperate right now and we’re playing with a sense of urgency,” Newbill said.
“We got one this weekend against Nebraska. We can’t sulk on one game. We got to keep moving forward. This is a marathon.”