State got back in the win column with a gutty performance Tuesday night against Pittsburgh. The Pack could have crumbled into a spineless heap at the eight minute mark of the second half when Pitt opened up a seven point lead. They didn’t though. State played hard in this game and fought through some adversity, which they had done exactly once all year. That’s a positive step of sorts.
I still maintain that effort and intensity was a secondary issue, and correcting this isn’t going to push State close to where it is capable of being, but it’s an improvement, and against a bad team like Pitt it was enough to make a difference.
I have a sneaking suspicion that Markell Johnson playing 33 minutes had something to do with a more energetic performance. I’ve always felt that he and Mav consistently gave big effort, despite their individual limitations, and I think last night proved that, given how many minutes both played. Johnson only scored eight points, but he impacted the game in lots of other places than the scoring sheet.
Maverick Rowan was the MVP of the game. His job is to impact the game specifically on the scoring sheet, and he did just that to the tune of 21 points and 6-9 from three. State does not win this game without his hot shooting. Rowan is now knocking down threes at over a 42% clip this year, which is almost 9% higher than his final numbers last year.
Rowan’s height makes it much easier for him to shoot over defenders than the Pack’s other perimeter players. If he can continue to hit these types of shots at a percentage close to what he is shooting now, that would be a nice boost for an offense that can struggle to create open looks.
So where on earth did Yurtseven’s sudden rebounding dominance come from? He doubled his previous career high with 16 boards. Maybe he read the thing I said about him and it motivated him. If that’s the case, then Omer, you’re really bad and definitely will not average 20 and 15 the rest of the season.
If State is 20 steps away from where it could be, then last night was about ¾ of a step, but at least we’re moving in the right direction now.