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Penn State Falls On The Road To NC State 85-78

It was a game that the Lions could have won had the team not had an offensive drought late in the first half.

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State came out firing on all cylinders but unfortunately the team lost its offensive momentum. NC State played a solid game, featuring a blistering 10-16 from three point range for the game to hold off a late comeback attempt by PSU.

The Lions opened up with a 9-0 run, forcing NC State to call a timeout to regroup. At the first media break the score was 11-0.

The Wolfpack cut the lead to 11-8 with a couple of threes by Sam Hunt. Then Shep Garner hit two of his own to get the lead back to 18-11. Tony Carr had nine early points while Hunt had nine as well on three made long-balls for NC State, keeping the game close. The score was 22-21 with 8:30 left in the first half.

Josh Reaves and Nazeer Bostick made a couple plays on offense and defense, showing their ability to contribute while bringing immense athleticism to the court. Reaves was 3 for 3 from the field in the early-going. Bostick had 2 rebounds, an assist, and then forced a turnover during a tenuous stretch with the Lions cold on offense, looking for production in other areas.

Even with the extra effort NC State was able to claw back into the game, leading for the first time 25-24. That’s when Jamari Wheeler found Satchel Pierce to get the lead right back.

Wheeler also contributed some stellar defense when the Lions needed it, including a steal that led to a pair of free throws and this lock-down footwork that forced the point guard to hold the ball for so long that NC State was called for a shot clock violation.

The effort was great but the offense continued to miss high-percentage shots and the score was 37-30 in favor of NC State at the half.

Early in the second half the lead was extended to 46-34 with the Wolfpack shooting 7 for 10 from behind the arc. Shep Garner got a much-needed deep ball of his own to drop, beginning to chip away at the lead. Tony Carr added a couple of field goals and the score was 50-43 with 15 minutes to play in the game.

NC State shot a scorching 9-13 from behind the arc which helped the team break out to a 66-55 lead at the under-8 timeout. Four minutes later the lead was extended to 74-61 and things were getting dire for the Lions. Tony Carr hit a tough layup to cut the lead to 11 points at the last media break with four minutes on the clock.

Some great defense cut the lead to 75-68 with just under three minutes on the clock. Jamari Wheeler hit a free throw to make it a two possession game with two and a half minutes to play, 75-69. Tony Carr hit a three to cut the lead in half. Moments later Carr hit a couple of free throws to cut the lead to 77-74 with one minute to play.

A series of foul shots for NC State and quick baskets for PSU followed. It was 84-78 with 15 seconds to play when the Lions were called for an illegal screen while on offense, ending all hopes of a comeback. The game ended moments later 85-78.

PPP and Four Factors

Team Total Possessions PPP eFG% OReb% TO% FT Rate
Team Total Possessions PPP eFG% OReb% TO% FT Rate
Penn State 71 1.09 53.1% 30.6% 19.8% 17.2%
Iowa 1.03 54.5% 42.4% 25.5% 38.2%

The numbers got a little skewed late in the game with the Lions sending the Wolfpack to the line in an attempt to extend their chances. Two players, Sam Hunt and Omer Yurtseven, combined for 7 for 8 from three-point range, and that alone could be seen as the difference in the game.

Player of the Game

Tony Carr (29 points, 7 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 assist)- Carr once again showed that he can carry the team. No, it wasn’t a winning effort tonight but without his timely scoring, the team would not have had a chance late in the game.

Random Thoughts

  • Each of the three players that are expected to play significant time at center played within the first five minutes for the Lions. Satchel Pierce came in a few minutes into the game and then gave way to Julian Moore, while Mike Watkins slid over to power forward alongside Moore. The ability to protect Watkins from foul trouble and fatigue is an obvious concern. It appears that will not be nearly as much of a problem this year as it was last year, as Watkins had no fouls heading to the half. The next phase of this newly-found low-post depth is that Chambers can elect to play Watkins at power forward when it is strategically advantageous. Pierce and Moore had a block, two points and two rebounds between them in the first half, playing productive minutes in order to preserve Watkins for the second half.
  • While it was rough to watch the Lions miss a large number of high-percentage shots in the first half, the defense held the team in the game. The overall team intensity on the defensive side, as the saying goes, does not slump. There were times when the defense provided the offense and that is a characteristic that will come in handy later in the season. Now if PSU could just find a way to avoid the long scoring droughts.

Up Next

The Lions will travel to Iowa for the first Big Ten conference game of the season. It’s a tough draw to start the conference slate but Pat Chambers’ team is as ready for this as they can hope to be. The game is Saturday at 5 p.m. and will be broadcast on the BTN.