Penn State (4-0) continues to look sharp. After a first half that lacked the typical effort on defense, the second half was a dominated by the Lions. It was the first time in program history that the team has scored 80 or more points in each of its first four games.
Mike Watkins started out 4 of 6 from the floor with a blocked shot, helping the Lions to an early 15-8 lead.
With 14 minutes to play in the first half Izaiah Brockington and Curtis Jones came in for starters Myles Dread and Jamari Wheeler. The Lions pressed for the next few possessions, using the depth on the bench to gain their starters a rest while making Bucknell’s back court work hard just to get across mid court.
Curtis Jones got open and didn’t hesitate to drop in a three point shot. The transfer from Oklahoma State, by way of Indiana, has shown that he has various talents that will help the team. He can play solid defense, has above average size, is a solid ball handler and can score when needed.
Brockington quickly scored 4 points, had 2 rebounds and an assist while playing great defense. He has the rare ability to levitate, using his jumping ability not just to go upward, but forward as well.
Myles Dread hit his second three point shot of the game to give Penn State a 27-18 lead with 8 minutes to go before half time.
Bucknell had a solid run to cut the lead to 31-27 with 6 minutes on the clock. The Lions upped the ante on the defensive end. Jamari Wheeler worked a steal for Myreon Jones, who found Curtis Jones for the finish.
Bucknell cut the lead to 2 on the next trip down the court. Wheeler took the ball to the hoop, getting his second of three layups in the first half to answer. Curtis Jones hit a shot high off the glass just before the half to give the Lions a 45-42 lead.
Lamar Stevens scored the first 8 points of the second half, forcing Bucknell to call a time out. It was clear right out of the gate that the team was focused and ready to put together a better effort. Stevens’ inspired play made that a certainty.
The lead got to 11 before Bucknell fought back to cut it to 5. Myles Dread hit a three off a nice pass from Myreon Jones to start another Penn State run. It was 59-49 with 15 minutes to play.
Jamari Wheeler hit two consecutive layups to build a 14 point lead with 14 to go. Wheeler had 10 points in the first 26 minutes of the game, most of them coming at key moments. Izaiah Brockington had a lay-in to cap a 20-2 run to start the second half. The Lions started the second half going 14 of 15 from the field while building a 21 point lead.
The lead slowly grew for the final ten minutes as Penn State worked in a some of the players in the end of the rotation. In all 11 players saw the court for Pat Chambers. The Lions took a shot clock violation with 8 seconds to play rather than try a field goal to score 100 points in a regular season game for the first time.
Penn State did a good job of taking care of the ball after a game that saw them turn the ball over 20 times. The team had just 11 turnovers while forcing 14.
- The Lions picked up votes in the USA Today Coaches Poll last week, finishing 37th. It was the earliest in program history to get votes of any kind in the polls. While the Net Ranking will come out later in the year, the Kenpom rankings have the Lions in the top 30.
- Nine players saw the court for Penn State in the first half, showing the depth the team has on the bench and the versatility that it gives Chambers strategically.
- Myreon Jones didn’t attempt a shot for the first 12 minutes of the game after scoring 14 quick points against Georgetown. Jones is the rare streaky scorer that seems willing to facilitate when it is best for the team.
- Mike Watkins missed his first two shots before finishing 9 of 10 the rest of the way. Watkins continues to look great. He has taken several shots from 12 feet away from the basket this year and a high percentage have gone in, showing that he has worked to stretch his range.
The Lions will host Yale at 4 p.m. on Saturday.