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Penn State 87, Central Connecticut State 58: Takin’ Care of Business

Penn State started off hot and ended this game within the first five minutes.

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Penn State Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

This wasn’t your typical Penn State hoops game against an overmatched squad from a low-major conference. Although PSU was favored by 35.5 points before tip-off, there was some palpable buzz due to another number, 23. I’m talking of course, about PSU’s No. 23 ranking in the AP poll, which also marked the first time in 23 years the Lions would be playing a basketball game as a ranked team.

Even though everybody was anticipating a comfortable win tonight for PSU, there were some concerns about how focused this team would be, especially dealing with the newfound hype that comes with being ranked, along with the fact that this was the last game before the Christmas holiday.

Those concerns were quickly alleviated, as Lamar Stevens opened up the game from the opening tip with a dunk that fired up the sparse, post-finals, crowd at the Jordan Center. The Blue Devils of CCSU employed a full court press to start the game, but it proved rather futile, as Penn State was able to break the press for easy layups/dunks and wide-open three-pointers, en route to nailing their first 11 attempts from the floor (including their first five three-point attempts). Eight different Nittany Lions would get on the scoreboard in the first half alone, including Mike Watkins, who earned his 1,000th career point via an alley-oop pass from Myreon Jones. Lamar would end the half as he began it with a dunk to put PSU up 51-31 at the half.

Defensively, PSU was able to create their share of fast break opportunities via steals and blocks, earning a total of 42 fast break points (compared to only seven for CCSU). They would go on to hold CCSU to a seven minute scoreless drought starting from early in the second half as they built their lead as high as 30-plus, although, never quite hitting the 35.5-point threshold the betting lines had them at (sorry, degenerates).

In the end it was a nice, stress-free, beatdown of an inferior opponent heading into the holidays. It was the type of win you would expect out of a bonafide Top 25 program.

PPP and Four Factors

Zero surprise that PSU’s efficient field goal percentage rate was way higher than CCSU’s. The offensive rebounding advantage for CCSU is a tad baffling though, as you would think a team like PSU with a considerable overall height advantage wouldn’t allow that to happen.

Player of The Game - Myreon Jones

Whether he was draining threes, dishing out assists on alley-oops, or coming up with steals, Myreon seemingly did it all for PSU tonight. His overall performance this season in fact, has been stellar, and is a huge reason why PSU currently sits in a great position in the overall standings.

Random Observations

  • Penn State sure came out looking a team playing with some swagger and confidence. Sometimes, you’ll see teams that are suddenly getting more hype than they’re used to come out a little too hyped and make silly mistakes, and while you saw a little bit of that with some wild passes, PSU still played with enough discipline and control to put this game away early and never allow CCSU to think they stood a chance.
  • One glaring issue however, came in the rebounding department, as PSU allowed 14 offensive boards. That’s way too many to allow against a team like CCSU, let alone in Big Ten play, where that sort of performance could cost them a game that will matter a lot more down the road. The good news is, there is still time for Pat Chambers and his staff to work on cleaning that up.
  • Perhaps there was no better metaphor for how this game went for PSU, than when Lamar Stevens missed a one-handed alley-oop slam, but totally redeemed himself on the very next possession with a fast break, underneath-the-legs dunk reminiscent of something you’d see on NBA All-Star Weekend.

Up Next

The Nittany Lions get over a week off to enjoy Christmas before hosting Cornell on Sunday, December 29th. Tip-off will be at Noon ET on ESPNU.