The problem wasn’t Penn State’s shot selection.
Nittany Lion coach Patrick Chambers thought his players got some good looks during their ugly start at No. 23 Ohio State on Wednesday.
The problem was how they responded to going scoreless for nearly the first seven minutes and digging themselves a 12-point hole. The Nittany Lions didn’t show the same resilience they did after previous slow starts.
The final result was a 75-55 loss — Penn State’s worst of the season.
“It’s one of those games where you burn the DVD and you move on,” Chambers said Friday.
The Nittany Lions (15-10, 3-9) have shifted their focus to their Big Ten rematch with No. 19 Maryland (20-5, 8-4) at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the Bryce Jordan Center. The Terrapins beat Penn State 64-58 in the first meeting last Wednesday.
Chambers reminded his players after the loss to the Buckeyes that they need to stick together.
They can’t resort to pointing fingers and losing focus when shots aren’t falling. They have to fight through it with defense and continue to compete for 40 minutes.
That’s what the coach expects from his team.
“In the moment, I was upset we didn’t play hard and we didn’t compete,” Chambers said. “I felt like we didn’t compete like a Penn State basketball team competes — like we’ve done all year. All year we’ve competed versus the best teams and battled and grinded down to the last four minutes, and we didn’t put ourselves in that position.”
The Nittany Lions did just that in their loss to Maryland.
After a tight first half, the Terrapins built an eight-point lead a little more than four minutes into the second half. Less than a minute later, the Nittany Lions pulled within three and never trailed by more than six points again.
Maryland led by five with more than two minutes to play, but Brandon Taylor hit two 3-pointers to slice the deficit to 59-58 heading into the final minute.
Chambers and his players reviewed that game after practice Thursday.
“We watched Maryland instead of Ohio State, which I thought would be a waste of time, would be a negative film session,” Chambers said. “I felt it would be best to start, let’s move on to Maryland and start focusing on what we can do to get better versus Maryland.”
Maryland and Ohio State were both effective in slowing down Penn State’s D.J. Newbill.
Chambers knew life would be difficult for Newbill in Big Ten play, and the conference’s leading scorer has seen a dip in production in the last five games.
Newbill is averaging 15.4 points while shooting 36.2 percent from the field — below his season averages of 20.7 points and 45.6 percent shooting. He went 6 for 19 and scored 18 points in the loss to Maryland and finished 5 for 13 for 16 points against Ohio State.
The Terrapins limited Newbill to 3 for 11 shooting in the second half of their close win. The Buckeyes held Newbill scoreless for the first 13-plus minutes while maintaining a double-digit lead.
Chambers said opposing teams have taken away Newbill’s lanes, keeping two or three players in front of him while all five players are aware of him at all times. So Penn State is looking for more production beyond Newbill.
“D.J.’s got to make the correct passes, correct decisions,” Chambers said. “Things will start to open up once some of his teammates see the ball go through the basket.”
Penn State struggled to find balance and efficiency in the first game against Maryland. Geno Thorpe scored 10 points and Taylor added nine while the Nittany Lions shot 38.6 percent from the field.
But Penn State battled and had a chance to win in the final minute.
Chambers said he doesn’t expect the rematch to be much different.
“It’s really going to come down to who wants it more,” Chambers said. “It’s going to be a battle of volition and will and who’s going to make the plays at the end of the game and hopefully it’s us.”
Notes: Saturday’s game is Uplifting Athletes Day, with $4 from every ticket benefiting the national nonprofit organization. There will be a pregame skills clinic and autograph session with members of the football team on the concourse from 7:30-8:30 p.m. ... Taylor is second on the team with 10.0 points per game, followed by Shep Garner with 9.3 per game. ... Maryland’s Jon Graham, a Penn State transfer, is averaging 2.8 points and 3.2 rebounds in 12.9 minutes per game. Graham scored a career-high 16 points in the win over Penn State last week. He played in 57 games and started 25 times for the Nittany Lions from 2011-13. ... Maryland lost 71-55 to Iowa and beat Indiana 68-66 in its two games since the win over Penn State.