Anatomy Of An Upset

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Winning any game in the Big Ten is difficult, but Purdue was expected to beat Penn State on Thursday night. The Boilermakers entered the game a solid seven-point road favorite and with only three losses on the season, all close games.

In situations like that, it's always evident that the coaching staff is concerned about what is possible. Having said that, our practices were spirited and decisive. I didn't see anything that made me feel the team wouldn't be ready to play.

You would think playing Penn State during the holiday break would be an advantage. There were maybe 5,000 fans in attendance. Sometimes, though, lack of atmosphere dulls enthusiasm.

To beat the Boilers, Penn State was going to have to get good performances out of players not named Tim Frazier. Frazier is a terrific point guard, but rarely do Matt Painter-coached teams let one man beat them.

The Nittany Lions had not one, but several players who played above their normal level. Most notably was Billy Oliver, who came into the game averaging under seven points per game, and scored a career-high 21 on Thursday.

Frazier had 15 points, nine assists and five rebounds - still a very good stat line.

Matt Glover entered the game averaging 4.2 rebounds per game and had 11, including four on the offensive glass. Purdue had six offensive rebounds as a team.

So, you can see, Penn State had players rise to the occasion.

Conversely, the Boilermakers didn't have one player, perhaps with the exception of D.J. Byrd or Travis Carroll, who played well. When Robbie Hummel and Ryne Smith combine to shoot 2-of-11 and Lewis Jackson catches the collar, you're headed for serious trouble.

These types of nights happen in sports. Disappointing, for sure, but correctable. It's perplexing that a team that played so well against Illinois played so poorly at PSU.

Credit Penn State for its effort. They played at what Coach Keady used to call the "magic level."

We don't have time to lick our wounds. We're back on the road immediately to face a hungry Minnesota team. It will take a much better effort to win in Minneapolis, for sure.

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