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Penn State 81, Georgetown 66: The First Test Was A Success

This was just what the Lions needed. A quality road win against a solid squad.

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Georgetown Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

It was a wire to wire win on the road in what was the toughest challenge of the season for Pat Chambers and his team. After coming out hot, led by a scoring outburst by Myreon Jones, the Lions never trailed.

The defense came to play for both teams. Penn State had 7 points, 3 blocks and 2 steals before giving up its first basket. The Hoyas came out double-teaming Lamar Stevens every time he touched the ball so there were opportunities for other players.

Myreon Jones had 14 quick points and the Lions led 16-5 at the first break. Jones finished with a career-high 21 points, including 5 of 8 from 3-point range.

Even when the ball didn’t go in for Jones, things still worked out. Izaiah Brockington worked hard for the rebound, out-jumping two Hoyas, then went to the basket aggressively for the finish. That’s 7-foot tall Omer Yurtseven that he beat for the ball and then finished around. With just under 12 minutes to play in the first half, the Lions led 18-7.

Brockington added a tough layup on the next trip and then another the next time down the court and the lead was 15. Brockington scored 6 quick points, made mostly on his own hard work. He had 2 rebounds and a steal to add to that in his first 7 minutes played.

Myles Dread hit a three to make it a 12-point scoring run before the Hoyas hit a three with 8:30 to play, down 25-7. Pat Chambers called timeout less than a minute later to stem a 7-point run.

Georgetown began to press and it was successful when Curtis Jones Jr. turned the ball over at mid-court. Penn State returned the favor, putting on its own press to force their opponent to work on both sides of the court. There were a lot of turnovers, 20 for the Lions and 21 for the Hoyas, but most were caused by furious defensive pressure by both teams.

Lamar Stevens hit a free throw for his second point of the game to cut the run, it was 27-18 with 6 minutes to go before the half. Curtis Jones Jr. took a step-back three to build the lead back to 12 with 2 minutes to go. It was 42-34 at the half.

The Hoyas cut the lead to 5 in the opening minute of the second half before Myles Dread hit a three, then Mike Watkins had a dunk to stretch the lead back to 10. At the first break it was 50-43 Penn State.

Jamari Wheeler had 2 consecutive assists sandwiched around a steal. Wheeler sat out much of the first half with 3 fouls. Not having his ball-handling skills made it hard for Penn State to break the press. When he returned, the stability returned to the back court.

Lamar Stevens hit a pair of free throws to build the lead to 56-43 on the next possession. Georgetown made one more run to cut the lead under ten, but then the floodgates opened. John Harrar had two baskets as Mike Watkins rested on the bench.

After two consecutive offensive rebounds on the play, Izaiah Brockington kicked the ball back to Wheeler who found Harrar. It was 66-50 with 10 minutes to play.

Lamar Stevens hit a three with five minutes to play after the Hoyas made another run to try to cut into the lead, bringing the score to 73-60. Myreon Jones had a chance for a lay-in but Omer Yurtseven blocked it, keeping hope alive as time started to become a factor for Georgetown.

Jamari Wheeler and Myles Dread hit threes to bring the lead out to 79-62 with less than 2 minutes to play, ending any chances for a comeback.

Four Factors

Clearly Penn State does not want to make a habit of turning the ball over 20 times. Had the Lions cut out a half-dozen sloppy turnovers, the turnovers that came against the pressure would not have mattered so much.

It’s nice to see the team able to score over 80 points while struggling at times.

Random Observations

  • The contribution from so many players not named Lamar Stevens was amazing. Stevens had just one of Penn State’s first 26 points as the team built a double-digit lead. While he only scored 4 points in the first half, Stevens had 3 rebounds, 2 assists, a block and a steal. He was playing hard, just not scoring. By the end of the game his stat sheet was full: 14 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals and a block.
  • The Lions surely have a better understanding now, after facing a press of similar quality as their own, how much they can unnerve the opponent with their own full court press. Most of Penn State’s issues breaking the press took place while Jamari Wheeler was on the bench, illustrating his importance to the team.
  • This was a great team effort. Lamar Stevens didn’t score until late in the game, neither did Mike Watkins, but each contributed by playing great defense. The rest of the team showed that there is enough talent to win even when the top two players are not scoring.

Up Next

The Lions will be off until Tuesday when they host Bucknell at 6:30 p.m. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.