Penn State (7-1) took care of business in the final test before a pair of conference games against top-10 teams. Ohio State and Maryland are next up so it was nice to get a quality win in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Myreon Jones carried the team on offense when it needed it most, scoring 22 points. The win moves Penn State up to 23 in the Kenpom rankings.
The Lions came out hot, taking an early 14-4 lead in the opening minutes with 8 points coming from Lamar Stevens.
Wake Forest battled back with some nice outside shooting from their starting guards Sharone Wright Jr. and Adrien White, who started out 6 of 7 from the field, including 2 of 3 from 3-point range. It was a five point game with 7:19 to go before halftime.
The Lions’ defense turned it up to another level and the crowd inside the Bryce Jordan Center responded, giving the team a boost with their voices from the stands. Lamar Stevens got his second foul, while on offense, and had to go to the bench with 5 minutes to go, Penn State leading 30-22.
Izaiah Brockington came in for Stevens and he provided an immediate spark, taking it to the hoop before the Demon Deacons knew what hit them. Curtis Jones hit two shots in a row to take the lead to 36-22. Myreon Jones hit a 3 to stretch the lead to 17 in the final minute of the first half with Stevens sitting on the bench.
Mike Watkins scored his first field goal of the game with 18 minutes to play, bringing the lead to 44-23. To that point Watkins and Lamar Stevens had just 10 combined points while the team built the lead.
Izaiah Brockington blocked a shot with 13 minutes to play and Stevens hit a pair of free throws on the next trip down the court to extend the lead to 55-30. Brockington made a steal and took it the length of the court, making a layup and then a foul shot to get the lead to 28. A minute later he hit a 3-point shot to stretch the lead to 30.
Trent Buttrick and Kyle McCloskey got some playing time late in the game. McCloskey got his first basket of the year, becoming the 11th Penn State player to score. The duo has not seen the court much this year but they are the next two off the bench when Chambers needs more manpower. It was good to see them running around, having fun and playing well.
Four Factor Analysis
The Lions won the turnover battle and got 19 rebounds more than Wake Forest.
- Penn State brought John Harrar, Izaiah Brockington, Seth Lundy and Curtis Jones in the game within the first 8 minutes. It showed the depth that Chambers has at his disposal but also, each player brings a useful talent. Very few opposing teams will not be able to match the tempo that the Lions can maintain for 40 minutes.
- Myreon Jones had 16 points in the first half on 6 of 8 shooting, 3 of 4 from 3-point range. When Stevens went to the bench with foul trouble, Jones stepped up. In all, 8 Penn State players scored in the first half. Mike Watkins did not score, but he had 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks and a steal.
The Lions will open Big Ten play on the road against the Ohio State University on Saturday. The noon tip-off will be televised on the Big Ten Network and it will be the first time this season that a win for the Lions would be considered an upset. We’ll see how Penn State handles the pressure in a tough environment. There are no indications that the team will do anything other than give a great effort.