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Penn State 74, Maryland 70: Sweet, Sweet Revenge

Penn State continues its streak of good play with a win against the Terrapins.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Penn State Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

When they joined the Big Ten, Maryland had football aspirations of having the type of relationship with Penn State that Michigan has with Ohio State. Being the clearly inferior program, they knew it was in their best interest to punch up against a rival they have history with, even if that history is lopsided in the rival’s favor. In basketball, meanwhile, their aspirations extended to the Michigan States, Wisconsins, Purdues, and Ohio States of the world. Their much better program shouldn’t be associated with the likes of Penn State.

In basketball, there is a role reversal from the attitudes in football, for both fanbases. The Penn State football fanbase won’t soon acknowledge Maryland as a rival, unless they win enough to deserve that denomination. The Maryland basketball fanbase won’t be caught putting Penn State in the same tier as Duke or Virginia, unless Penn State makes some Final Fours along the way. Both dominant fanbases, however, would be outright appalled at the mere thought of their team losing to the inferior opponent. Until they meet again, that’s the feeling Terps fans will have with this game.

Sloppy basketball on Penn State’s side kept this one on Maryland’s favor for first half, four first-half turnovers and a bevy of fouls continued to give the Terrapins enough opportunities to stay ahead. Were it not for the Nittany Lions’ own mistakes, this game could have looked a lot different.

Luckily for the Lions, their patented second-half drought to let Maryland back in didn’t end up costing them the game. Instead, as the second half lead grew from six to 10 points, and Maryland made runs to close it to within one, the Nittany Lions ensured the Terrapins never took the lead in the second half. A couple of timely fouls by Maryland made what would have been a disastrous drought down the stretch bearable, putting Nittany Lion players at the line. That would be where the game was won, as Maryland was unable to overtake the Lions as the seconds ticked away.

The Nittany Lions have won yet again, closing the gap on the series since Maryland joined the Big Ten. With the win, the record stands at 4-2 in favor of Maryland, and if you ask Terps fans, it should be 6-0. Meanwhile, Penn State fans have a legitimate claim at saying the series could be 4-2 in their favor.

Four Factors Analysis

Second. Chance. Points. Penn State continually corralled its own misses and turned them into points. This was one of the biggest reason the Lions were able to maintain its lead through the second half. Both teams shot the ball fairly efficiently, staying above 50% for the entirety of the game. The Nittany Lions got the edge in free throws this time around, in no small part due to fouls being called more evenly than they were the last time they played.

Player of the Game

You cold tell fairly early into this one that this would be one of those nights for Lamar Stevens. The sophomore went as soon as the ball was tipped, and every single point was instrumental in giving Penn State the win. Honorable mention goes to Tony Carr, who had 12 field goal attempts and six assists.

Random Observations

Four of five - Penn State has now won four of its last five conference games. The win matches Pat Chambers’ highest total at Penn State, and guarantees a winning season overall.

Above .500 - Speaking of, this is the latest in conference play Penn State has been above .500 since the 2008-09 season, where the Nittany Lions were also 7-6 after 13 conference games (that record also came off a four-wins-in-five-games stretch).

Tony the generous - As it turns out, Tony Carr likes seems to have turned a corner. The sophomore had four assists in the first half, while only shooting the ball five times. At times it looked like he was itching to take over the game, but he made the smart decision to pass the ball instead and here we are.

You mean to tell me that - When Maryland doesn’t take 34 foul shots to Penn State’s four, they don’t win the game? Man who would have thought?!

Looking Ahead

Penn State now takes its show on the road to face a suddenly, but not really, resurgent Illinois. The Illini’s two conference wins have all come in the second half of conference season. In the first half of the season, they endured close loss after close loss, so don’t let the record fool you. That game is Sunday, February 11, at 7:00 PM Eastern on BTN.