Penn State dominated most of the game last night leading by double digits most of the way. Notre Dame made a late rally on the shoulders of All American Luke Harangody pulling to within four points, but Penn State pushed back the rally and soldiered on to a comfortable 67-59 win.
Andrew Jones continued his strong play scoring his third career double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds. I keep saying good things happen when he gets the ball, and last night he shot 5-of-6 from the field. Most impressively, he was tasked with containing Harangody and he did so quite well holding him scoreless through much of the first half. He grabbed five more rebounds than Harangody and did so with only two personal fouls. I definitely noticed his control when he was beat for position on a few shots. The old Andrew Jones would have jumped over the back and got a silly foul. This one layed off and got back on defense. He's learning to play with control, and now he is approaching beast status.
How can anyone not feel good for Jamelle Cornley right now? For all of the disappointing losses, the injuries, the pain, the rehab, to see him go out and end his Penn State career in Madison Square Garden in the NIT final in front of thousands adoring fans dressed in white. I can think of a few better things, like playing for the NCAA Championship, but this is just something special kind of like throwing our own private party for him.
Also, do you think Lewis Preston is smiling this morning? Penn State has beaten two of his former teams in the last two games. I suspected he was a great hire when it was announced after last season, and I'm still convinced of that. His specialty is developing post players, and the progress made by Andrew Jones this season cannot be denied. I give a ton of that credit to Preston.
So now we'll face Baylor in the NIT Final on Thursday. With Michigan State in the NCAA Final Four, how great would it be for the Big Ten to claim both National Tournament Championships? But win or lose, this has been an awesome season as we've all come to love these kids and cheer for this team. I'm convinced under the leadership of Ed DeChellis this Penn State program is destined to go on to do greater things, but this team will always be special to me.