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Penn State Holds Off Campbell, 86-75

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It looked like PSU was going to run away with this one, but the Camels toed the line in the second half and kept fighting.

NCAA Basketball: Big 10 Media Day Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Carr scored a career-high 33 points and nearly earned the first triple-double for Penn State since Calvin Booth pulled off the feat in 1998. Chris Clemons scored 39 for the visiting Camels while being guarded by Josh Reaves most of the time, an amazing accomplishment.

The teams did not get out to a hot start as the score was tied at five apiece after nearly five and a half minutes of play.

Sophomore power forward Mike Watkins did not suit up, presumably as part of the academic issues that caused him to miss time over the summer. Julian Moore started at center in his place for the Nittany Lions.

Satchel Pierce and Nazeer Bostick were the first substitutions for Pat Chambers, just three minutes into the game. Jamari Wheeler entered the game early as well, giving Penn State fans a first look at the freshman guard that is expected to play significant minutes this season.

The Lions settled down, hitting 3 out of 4 shots midway through the first half to take a 12-9 lead at the under-twelve minute break. At the next break the lead had diminished to 18-17 and once again Pat Chambers’ team seemed to be struggling to put the ball in the hoop. The team was getting decent shots but the finish was not there. Jamari Wheeler rimmed a three-point shot in and out and it epitomized the early-going for the team, which started 1 of 8 from behind the arc.

Shep Garner and Lamar Stevens hit long-balls on consecutive trips to help loosen up the Campbell zone defense. Wheeler drove to the hoop a couple of possessions later and PSU held a 30-24 lead with three minutes to play before half-time.

John Harrar made his first appearance late in the first half. The freshman power-forward is expected to play a lot of minutes this year, especially while Mike Watkins is not in the lineup. Davis Zemgulis played a few minutes as well, making it ten total Nittany Lions to see the court in the opening half.

The teams went to the locker room with the Lions beginning to look like they were ready to take control of the game, leading 36-28.

The trend continued in the second half. The Lions’ offense continued to loosen up, aided by made three point shots and plays like this from Tony Carr to Josh Reaves.

The lead got to as much as 15 before the Camels made a little run to cut the lead to 46-35 with 15:38 left to play in the game.

By the under-twelve minute time out Penn State extended the lead back out to 15, 53-38. Campbell continued to battle as the Lions lost focus and the game was cut to just six points, 61-55 with six minutes to play. Tony Carr took matters into his own hands, hitting a three-point shot on the following trip down the court. He added a drive and a free throw on the next possession, and just like that PSU led 67-55 less than a minute later.

Late in the game, looking to hold or extend the lead, Josh Reaves made a nice steal reaching in and then ran the length of the court for a tough finish on the fast-break.

The effort gave Penn State a 73-59 lead with three minutes to play. Campbell cut the lead to eight with two minutes left to play. Tony Carr hit an elbow jumper, then the Camels hit a three and with 1:50 left it was a seven point game.

The lead was up to 17 earlier in the half but the visiting team refused to give up. A turnover the next time down the court on an attempted entry pass to Julian Moore and a layup on the other end cut the lead to 75-70 with less than a minute to play. Once again Tony Carr answered the call, with a basket and foul shot to give PSU a two-possession lead with 38.8 seconds on the clock. Josh Reaves blocked the next Campbell shot, which sealed the win for the Lions. The teams exchanged free throws but the gap remained the same for a final of 86-75.

Player of the Game

Tony Carr- (33 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists) Carr’s statistics were impressive for the game. He is one of the better players in the Big Ten conference and his leadership is something that does not show up in the stat books. There will be games along the way this year where Penn State simply needs calm guidance to get through. Today was one of those cases. Carr kept the team focused late in the first half and early in the second, when the team needed it most, and pulled away from a team that clearly had less talent.

The team will have to pull off wins versus opponents with equal or better talent to achieve the lofty goals that some have for the squad this year. It will be just as important for the team to put away games where it has a clear advantage in skill.

Random Observations

  • It’s going to be easy to forget that Tony Carr is just beginning his sophomore season. He has matured over the summer and it was clear in his play at times today. At the end of the first half, Carr got the team to execute a 2 for 1 in possessions and both times the team got high-quality shots. Carr backed his defender into the lane and hit a high-percentage shot as time ran out to give his team a comfortable lead at the break. Late in the game Carr again took control, scoring when needed and getting to the free throw line.
  • The overall team athleticism is higher than it has likely ever been. With Bostick and Reaves on the court at the same time, you almost feel sorry for the opposing guards. Both long guards enjoy harassing the ball-handler and each caused trouble today. Chambers may finally have the depth to employ his pressing schemes to their full-force this season.
  • Remember when it used to be a big deal for the Lions to score sixty points? Chamburgers used to be hard to come by and coach Chambers would be out of pocket a lot this year if the team continues to spread the ball around as it did today. The team broke sixty points with more than eight minutes remaining in the game.

Up Next

The Lions will tip-off with Fairleigh Dickinson on Sunday at 5 p.m. The game will be broadcast once again on the $9.95 per-month Big Ten Plus subscription stream service. Join us for the open-thread or follow the game on twitter at BSDTweet.