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Josh Reaves Lifts Penn State To Victory Versus Fairleigh Dickinson, 81-57

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The team played a complete game, collecting its second win of the season.

NCAA Basketball: Campbell at Penn State Linsey Fagan-USA TODAY Sports

Pat Chambers will be happy with his team’s effort after this game. While there is always room for improvement, we saw the best of what this team has to offer tonight. The Lions had ten dunks in the game. With the return of Mike Watkins, and an overall team defensive effort that was in mid-season form, the Lions cruised to victory. And Josh Reaves, well, he was magnificent.

Fairleigh Dickinson came ready to play, getting out to a fast 14-7 lead six minutes into the game. That’s when Josh Reaves made a few nice plays. First he hit a three point shot, then on the other end of the floor he picked up a loose ball and found Mike Watkins for a dunk with a long pass. Davis Zemgulis hit a long-ball on the next trip down the court and just like that the score was 16-15, the Lions trailing at the under 12-minute timeout.

Reaves then hit another three-pointer and added a layup, forcing FDU to call timeout with momentum fading, the game tied at 20 with 10:24 to play in the first half. A minute later Reaves added a steal and another bucket to his tally. Through 12 minutes the junior guard had 12 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal. The Lions led 26-23 at the next break, with 7:42 on the clock.

Lamar Stevens hit an elbow jumper to give PSU a 34-25 lead with four minutes to play. Stevens had a tough go on opening night, never finding his groove, but had 8 first-half points with the made shot. Penn State maintained control of the game for the remainder of the half, taking a 45-29 lead to the locker room. Just before the buzzer, Pat Chambers called a timeout and set up the press, allowing Tony Carr to make a steal and then finish the bucket from his back side as time expired.

The Lions came out with a fury in the second half, extending the lead to 54-31 in just two minutes. With twelve minutes to play in the game the lead was 19 points for Penn State. The Lions came back with another flurry of steals leading to dunks. Two consecutive dunks, first by Josh Reaves and then by Lamar Stevens, forced an emergency timeout by FDU, down 25 points with ten minutes to play.

With eight minutes to play the Lions were able to stretch the lead out to 28 points. John Harrar, Nazeer Bostick, Jamari Wheeler and Davis Zemgulis saw extended playing time from that point. It was important for Chambers to get his key supporting players as much playing time as possible, to create additional film to study to improve their games. The lead was down to 19 at one point but the Lions built it back to 24 by the final whistle.

PPP and Four Factors

Team Total Possessions PPP eFG% OReb% TO% FT Rate
Team Total Possessions PPP eFG% OReb% TO% FT Rate
Penn State 83 0.98 47.8% 45.0% 27.9% 32.8%
FDU 0.69 47.9% 14.3% 37.6% 38.3%

Pat Chambers will be happy with a lot that his team accomplished on the night. He won’t be happy, however, with the turnovers. Penn State had 23 turnovers, twice the recommended amount, for various reasons. Early in the game the team did not protect the ball well enough, making careless passes. Late in the game, the final five minutes, was a free for all for the players in the game, and there were a half-dozen careless plays in that time frame as well. There’s some film for the team to look at, some issues to clean up, but overall, it was a great effort.

Player of the Game

Josh Reaves (17 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, 1 block) Reaves was everywhere on the night and it showed in the stat sheet. Believe it or not, he played even better than his statistics show. Even still, there remains room for improvement even on such a fantastic day. Reaves picked up a few unnecessary fouls, reaching-in out of frustration after failing to make a steal. He also had a turnover as a result of being a little out of control while dribbling in a fast-break situation. These are recurring issues for him and it is nice to have something on tape to remind him that there is always work to do.

Random Observations

  • Josh Reaves showed what he can bring to the table early in the game. While the rest of the team was struggling to find its mojo, he took it on himself to lift his teammates. Today that effort was evident in the scoring column and in Reaves’ stat sheet, but many times his work is given no reward on paper. Reaves forced a bad pass on a press that Lamar Stevens benefited by being closest for the steal, then passed to Nazeer Bostick for a dunk. On that play Reaves gets no stats, but Stevens got and assist and a steal, Bostick two points. It’s the type of effort that the defensive wizard on most nights and can sometimes go unnoticed in the flow of the game.

Here is a look at a play that he will not get a statistic for, while the team gets credit for a turnover. This is the intensity and demeanor that Reaves was carrying on the court.

Here’s another play that will go down as a turnover. A clean strip that bounced off the leg of the offensive player. Reaves was first to make the call, then the referee agreed.

  • It was nice to see Mike Watkins running around on the floor for the first time since last March. His presence changes the way the team can play defense. It also allows role players such as Julian Moore and Satchel Pierce to slip into their more comfortable slots. Let’s hope that Watkins’ off-season issues are behind him.
  • It was nice to see Penn State hold a large lead without losing focus. There have been times in the past, most recently Friday night, when the team had the ability to put an opponent away but let off the gas pedal. With seven minutes to play the Lions stretched the lead to 28. While the final spread was less than that, at no point did it feel as though FDU was within making a run at a comeback.

Up Next

The Lions will remain at home, hosting Montana on Wednesday. The game will be televised nationally on the Big Ten Network at 7 p.m., so join us for the open-thread.