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Penn State 75 - Kent State 69: Lions Close Out Non-Con Victorious

A solid victory to close out what was, save for two games, a strong OOC showing for Pat Chambers' boys.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Davis Zemgulis and Josh Reaves brought the noise. Oh, what, you thought I was gonna start with Brandon Taylor's huge night didn't you? Well we'll get to the best game you may ever see BTitty play in a bit, but indulge me in dreaming for a moment. In crunch time, Taylor was the elder statesman leading the charge. But, who was out there with him? Two freshmen and two sophomores. We talk about the future being incredibly bright quite a bit, but a nice chunk of that future is winning games for Pat Chambers right now, and that should get everyone excited.

The game itself was a very up-and down one for the Lions, with very slow starts to each half making way for strong finishes. It was quite the opposite of the matchup with Colorado the day before, and the heart Penn State showed in rebounding from such a tough loss is huge. Kent State jumped out to an early 12-5 lead, and Penn State looked a tad worn out from the previous matchup. After having foul trouble in said game, BT's first early foul clearly frustrated Chambers, who pulled him for the biggest enigma with a scholarship on the roster in Zemgulis. The artist formerly know as Deividas responded well to the expanded role, putting up eleven points and four rebounds. Taylor responded even more strongly, though, and proceeded to morph into a Monstar for the rest of the game. Scoring over a Kent State triple team was the highlight of a huge night from the veteran. His 19 points led PSU into the half with a 42-37 lead.

The second half saw Kent State start hot again, taking a lead on the backs of Jimmy Hall and Kellon Thomas. However, the Josh Reaves show came to town late, with the uber athletic freshman rising for rejections and hitting daggers, paired with another 12 from Taylor, to secure the lead late and give Penn State a win. It was one of those games that showed the present ability and future potential, and even if the numbers are ugly (free throws were a sad event), sometimes you need to win this way.

Four Factors Analysis

Team Possessions PPP eFG% OReb% TO% FT Rate
Penn State 69 (NICE) 1.09 51.7% 43.2% 20.4% 42.4%
Kent State - 1.01 49.0% 25.0% 17.5% 50.0%

Player of the Game - Brandon Taylor: 29 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals

We talked about it plenty above, but Taylor's impact was huge tonight, for as frustrating as he is to watch at times, the games in which BTitty turns on that switch and uses his size, touch, and vision to score from all over the court are a sight to behold. 4-10 from the free throw line puts a slight damper on an otherwise stellar performance, but he put the team on his back when it came to scoring, especially on what was a decidedly quiet night from Shep. Greg Jennings would be proud.

Random Observations

1) Josh Reaves might be the best athlete Penn State has ever had in basketball, and certainly during the Chambers era. In the age of the do it all wing, he fits the prototype well.

2) Pat Chambers' jacket has been coming off less frequently this season, or at least later on. Maybe it's the no tie thing, maybe someone got Pat started on yoga or something.

3) Donovon Jack had a big dunk and generally looked like he has played basketball before. Drink.

4) Kent State has a good program building over in Ohio. For all the talk of #MACtion in football, the basketball generally is less heralded despite being the football mid major conference of note.

5) This team is so much more fun to watch than any past iteration, just on an aesthetic level. It may not measure up to a Frazier-Newbill backcourt in terms of total production right now, but the move from necessary iso ball to movement and an improving defense are nice.

Looking Ahead

After a week off, the Nittany Lions will head to College Park on the 30th and hope that the Maryland Terrapins are overhyped (they aren't, they are going to wreck our souls). Merry Chrimbus, everyone.