West Lafayette, IN—The Penn State men’s basketball team loss to a hot-shooting # 1 Purdue Boilermakers’ (22-1, 11-1) squad 80-60 Wednesday night inside Mackey Arena.
Mason Gillis hit nine 3-pointers, the most by a Purdue player in Mackey Arena set the tone of the game early for the Boilermakers.
Purdue came into the game shooting just 33.2% from beyond the arc for the season, but went crazy for 14 3-pointers on a 45.2% from beyond the arc.
“Everyone’s out here acting like this is unbelievable,” guard Ethan Morton said. “I’m like, ‘I’ve seen him do this for three years. ‘This is like another open gym.’ It’s just a testament to him and his work and how big of a piece he is for us.”
Added Gillis: “I don’t know, honestly. I was just in the right spots at the right times, and my teammates were finding me.”
Lions forward Michael Henn made a few 3-pointers in the first six minutes to provide early offense and tied the game at 11 at the first media timeout. The Nittany Lions went cold for the next few minutes as the Boilermakers went on a 9-0 run that gave them an early 23-13 edge half-way through the first half.
Purdue built a 12 points at 32-20 at the 4:45 mark of the first half, but PSU answered back with a spurt of their own. The Nittany Lions made five of their final seven shots from the field and limited the Boilermakers to just one field goal in the final 4:44 as the the Lions cut the Boilermaker lead down to six points at 35-29 heading into the break.
“My opening statement is going to be very succinct,” said Penn State coach Micah Shrewsberry, who was an assistant at Purdue before taking the Nittany Lions job two years ago. “Best team in the country, best player in the country, best coach in the country.”
Seth Lundy led Penn State with 18 points and six rebounds. Jalen Pickett chipped in 12 points, seven assists, and five rebounds, while Michael Henn poured in 11 points.
The Nittany Lions drop to 14-8 overall and 5-6 in the Big Ten. #1 Purdue improves to 22-1 on the season and 11-1 in the Big Ten Conference.
In the second half, the Boilermakers jump started the half by draining three straight 3-pointers from Gillis and pushed its lead to 24 points by the second media timeout.
In December, Gillis missed three straight contests with a back injury suffered in the weight room. Prior to that, he’d started all eight of Purdue’s games.
Gillis returned on Dec. 17 against Davidson at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, now as a reserve with Caleb Furst in the starting spot. In the 12 games since his return prior to Wednesday, Gillis was a combined 9 of 35 from 3-point range.
Gillis made more shots and got more confidence with the range as the game progressed. He took shots he said he might not have under normal circumstances. His next to last three came from a few feet behind the arc. He sized up Caleb Dorsey, jab-stepped and released which tied the Mackey Arena record.
“I kinda just proved to myself that I can do it in games,” he said. “I do it every single day, so there’s no reason I can’t make shots. Sometimes it’s more of a self-confidence thing.”
Purdue’s nine-game winning streak is the fifth-longest streak in the country. The Boilermakers have had two separate 9-game winning streaks in three previous seasons (2023, 2010, 1996, 1988).
The Boilermakers is just the third Big Ten team since 2000 to start a season with a 22-1 record (24-0 by Ohio State in 2011; 29-0 by Illinois in 2005).
“Most people will feel through their offense, and you can’t be that way as a player because your offense will come and go,” Purdue Matt Painter said. “But your defense, your concentration, your rebounding, taking care of the basketball, those are things that always travel, so you gotta be solid in those areas. So Mason’s worked really, really hard, and (it’s) just great to see all of his hard work pay off.”
Purdue will travel to play the Hoosiers on Saturday, Feb 4th for a 4:00 P.M. start time which be aired on ESPN.