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Penn State 63, Drexel 57: Lions Rally From 17-Point Deficit to Slay Dragons

Pat Chambers' crew overcame a difficult start to ultimately defeat a pesky Drexel squad.

Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Things looked rather bleak for Penn State after Drexel's Tavon Allen nailed a three-pointer to put his team up 32-15 with just a little under six minutes to go in the first half of a game where PSU was looking sloppy on both ends of the floor. Drexel, meanwhile, seemed to be nailing shots left and right when they weren't busy getting to the free throw line.

Things took a turn for the better however, beginning with a 12-2 PSU run to the close out the half and cut the deficit to single digits. The second half saw Drexel clinging on to dear life for as they began to go ice cold shooting the ball, relying mostly on free throws before PSU was able to jump ahead for good in the game's final five minutes.

Payton Banks led the way scoring-wise for the good guys with a career-high 20 points while Brandon Taylor and Shep Garner also reached double figures with 11 points each and Josh Reaves pitched in 9 points. Tavon Allen (18 points) and Terrell Allen (16 points and no relation to Tavon) were Drexel's scoring leaders.

Four Factors Analysis

Team Possessions PPP eFG% OReb% TO% FT Rate
Penn State 63 1.00 42.4% 37.1% 12.7% 28.8%
Drexel - 0.91 36.8% 27.0% 15.9% 41.5%

Drexel started out hot but gradually cooled off as the game went on, resulting in PSU taking the advantage in the eFG% department. The free throw rate percentage also illustrates just how much Drexel had to rely on free throw shooting to keep their lead propped up during the second half when they were having issues shooting from the floor, which is what ultimately doomed them.

Player of the Game - Josh Reaves (9 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals)

No, he didn't light up the scoreboard the way Banks did, but he had the most balanced, well-rounded game out of any other Nittany Lion on the floor. When he wasn't scoring, he was busy playing lock-down defense, grabbing rebounds, and creating turnovers with his three steals. Josh is clearly showing why basketbros were hyping him up before he ever played his first game in a PSU uniform.

Random Observations

  • Shep once again got off to a slow start, appearing to force shots and playing out of control. He did later calm down and start to pick up the scoring slack, much like he did towards the end of the Louisiana-Monroe game last week. You'd like to see him put together a more consistent performance from start to finish, especially with the start of Big Ten play just around the corner.
  • Shout-out to the Drexel pep band for their choice in music during timeouts, especially their cover of Led Zeppelin's Moby Dick.
  • I've probably said this several times already, but it's impressive to see how resilient this team has been when the going gets tough. I'm sure I'm not the only one who thought "welp, it's gonna be one of those nights" when Drexel held their 17-point lead but credit to these players and the coaching staff for not panicking and for scratching and clawing their way back to avoid what could've been an embarrassing loss to a one-win Drexel team. Considering how top-heavy and vulnerable most of the Big Ten seems right now, it's not unreasonable to think this team might be able to win a couple games that it otherwise shouldn't.

Looking Ahead

Penn State (8-3) travels to Las Vegas for a pair of games in the Las Vegas Classic, which will be their final non-conference games before starting Big Ten play. Their first test will come against a tough Colorado squad on Tuesday night and depending on that game's result, they will play either Kent State or SMU on Wednesday night.