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Penn State 72, VCU 69: Lions Survive A Tough Test

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The Rams gave Penn State everything they could handle, but a key shot to seal the victory proved the timely.

NCAA Basketball: VCU at Penn State Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Interim head coach Jim Ferry had never beaten the VCU Rams going into this game. While Ferry is accustomed to seeing the Rams, this was the first meeting between the two teams. An early season test in a season that would provide few in the non-conference, VCU proved to be everything we expected them to and then some.

The Nittany Lions and Rams played exactly the back and forth game we expected from the get go. Two teams that want to play effective defense while running up and down the field, they found themselves trading blows, and leads, for most of the first half.

Sloppy play, however, was also part of the story. Offensive fouls on the part of the Penn State, unforced turnovers on the part of VCU. The teams took a near five minute lull after starting fast, taking, then ramping up again to end the half 35-32 in favor of the Nittany Lions.

Penn State started fast in the second half too, but VCU wasn’t about to make anything easy for the remainder of the game. A quick four points for Seth Lundy increased to seven, but the Rams came right back to take the leads for themselves. From there, it was another closely contested half, where some fouls on both teams led to early bonus action, with free throws ultimately being the deciding factor in the game. Every time Penn State tried to build a lead, the Rams, mostly at the line, was able to chip away.

And then Seth Lundy. The [foreshadowing] sophomore was on fire today, and was major reason Penn State was able to stay ahead in the second half. Even with his gargantuan performance, the Rams played well enough in the second half to find themselves a shot away from winning the game. They tied it, however, and to overtime they went!

Oh right, that last part didn’t happen. Myles Dread had other ideas.

Four Factors Analysis

You like fast tempo? You got fast tempo! This game was frenetic in pace, and to be quite honest, it was a treat to watch. Like last time, though, the Nittany Lions need to clean up the fouls, as not every opponent is going to miss as many free throws as VCU did. Unlike last season, Penn State doesn’t have the [experienced] depth to put teams in the bonus with 10 minutes left in a half. Though on the other hand, it’s nice to see the Lions make their free throws when they make it to the line.

Player of the Game

Seth Lundy showed he can do a little bit of everything too! Not only did Lundy have a career-high 32 points, blowing his career high of 19 out of the water, he had four rebounds, two blocks, and an overall impressive presence in the game. Honorable mention goes to Sam Sessoms, who was the only other Nittany Lion in double figures in this game, with 17 points.

Random Observations

Too many fouls - Like last game, the Nittany Lions had way too many fouls in this game. They need to clean that up, quickly.

Defense still solid - Yes, VCU made Penn State work for every point, but the Nittany Lions did the same thing to the Rams. It’s good to see that defensive intensity alive and well early, as they’re going to need it as they go along.

What’s up with Jones? - Myreon Jones has not had the start to the season he’s wanted, as he struggled to score again in this game. There was a bit of dissatisfaction with the officiating, as you could see him looking for fouls that weren’t called in the first half. Hopefully this is early season rust and not something to be concerned with.

Jimmy got the first one - This would be Ferry’s first win against the Rams in six tries.

Clock issues and the BJC - Name a more iconic duo.

Looking Ahead

Things don’t get any easier for the Nittany Lions, as they host Seton Hall on Sunday. The Pirates are expected to be just as good this season as they were last, even with their big losses from a year ago. Game will tip off at 8 PM on BTN.