When we last left our heroes they were about to begin a four game road stretch that was going to go a long way toward determining how successful their season would be. We're three games through that stretch, and so far the results are mixed.
The Nittany Lions started off well with an 85-73 win over Penn at the Palestra. They dominated the first half doubling up the Quakers 49-24 by the intermission. But they coasted in the second half and allowed Penn to cut the lead to ten, but they held on thanks to some solid free throw shooting to get the win. Talor Battle and Stanley Pringle were sensational scoring 24 and 25 points respectively. Cornley chipped in 16 points to go with his 9 rebounds.
Penn State stayed in Philly to take on Rhode Island as part of the Philly Hoop Group Classic. After trailing for most of the game, Penn State rallied and had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds, but Pringle's three point attempt was off the mark and the Nittany Lions suffered their first loss of the season. For the first time this season our guards were outplayed. Jimmy Baron scored 20 points and gave Battle fits on defense all night. Battle finished with 15 points on 4-of-16 shooting.
So Penn State was forced to settle for the consolation game against Towson on Saturday. It was a dangerous game for State. They could have come out hung over and tired from the night before and played down to the level of their inferior opponent. But instead they came out firing on all cylinders and responded with a resounding 78-54 victory. Battle nearly scored a triple-double with 15 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists.
What we've learned so far...
- Talor Battle is a star and easily the best kept secret in the conference. If he played in the Big East or the Big XII everyone would be talking about him being a future lottery pick. When he and Stanley Pringle are on we can play with anyone in the country.
- We are not very deep. Ed is playing just six or seven guys for most of the game. Battle in particular is playing a ton of minutes. If Woodyard and Babb can't get up to speed and allow him to rest for a few minutes here and there I'm afraid we're going to wear down late in the season.
- This team has learned how to win away from the Jordan Center. Does everyone remember the big fat egg we layed in the Old Spice Classic last year? Though it would have been nice to beat Rhode Island and get a shot at Villanova, they responded well following the loss and played solid basketball against Towson. Last year they would have never got their mojo back until they went back home.
- Somebody has to step up and help Cornley in the paint. Jones took a big step toward that with eight points and 13 rebounds against Towson.
Next up the Nittany Lions travel to Georgia Tech on Wednesday (7:30 PM) to compete in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on ESPN2. Then they return home on Saturday for a huge game against Temple. That game will be televised on the Big Ten Network at 6 PM. We'll have your open threads here.