Penn State (19-5 9-4 B1G) won without Myreon Jones in the lineup in one of the toughest environments in all of college basketball. The entire team picked up the slack again for Jones, whose 14 points per game and ball-handling had to be replaced. Seth Lundy was a force, setting his career-high in minutes played and points scored.
Lundy finished with 18 points, on 6 of 11 shooting from the floor, including six 3-pointers in 34 minutes played. It could not have come at a better time. Lundy is now shooting 40% from behind the arc with 57 attempts on the season, a nice contribution for the freshman.
With the win the Lions move into sole possession of second place in the Big Ten. There is a tiny chance, if Nebraska beats Maryland, that Penn State could be in first place by the end of the night. The longest Big Ten winning streak in program history extends to 7 games, something that fans may be talking about years from now.
It seems like the sky is the limit for the team right now.
How It Happened
The Lions hit four 3-point shots to start the game, Seth Lundy had two them, and led 12-6 five minutes in. With Myreon Jones out for the second straight game Myles Dread got the start in his place. Curtis Jones entered much earlier than normal to help handle the ball in Myreon Jones’ absence.
Izaiah Brockington added a deep ball and then Mike Watkins scored the first two-point shot of the night for a 17-10 advantage 8 minutes into the game. The early shooting success allowed the Lions to avoid going down a significant amount early, which Purdue likes to do at home. Several teams found themselves in early double-digit deficits in Mackey Arena this year and were unable to recover.
Lamar Stevens picked up his second foul and went to the bench with 9:13 to play before halftime. Neither foul was necessary and it took the best player out of the game for Penn State. Stevens could argue that the fouls were soft calls but on both occasions he did enough to get a whistle.
Seth Lundy hit his fourth deep ball of the first half to give Penn State a 31-22 lead with 4 minutes to play. Purdue answered back, cutting the lead to 5. Mike Watkins had a basket and foul shot for a 3-point play, getting the lead back to 8 with a minute to play before the half. Watkins had 7 points and 6 rebounds in the first half.
Izaiah Brockington hit his second 3-point shot of the half and Purdue called timeout with 51 seconds left, trailing by 11. It was a 9-0 run for the Lions with Lamar Stevens sitting on the bench. Myles Dread hit his second and the team’s tenth 3-point shot of the half to build the lead to 14. The Boilermakers added a basket late and it was 42-30 at the half.
It was a 3-point shooting exhibition for the Lions, who went 10 for 19 from downtown in the opening half.
Mike Watkins hit a pair of buckets in the paint then Seth Lundy hit another 3-point shot. Penn State led 49-32 with less than 4 minutes off the clock in the second half. Lamar Stevens hit a mid-range jumper to take the lead to 19 and Purdue was forced to call a timeout. Watkins hit two more close shots and the lead went to 23.
The lead got as large as 24 before Purdue began chipping away, taking it down to 15 with 9:23 to play. Pat Chambers called timeout and talked it over with his team. Lamar Stevens found Mike Watkins for a dunk late in the shot clock to stop an 8-0 Boilermaker run.
Myles Dread hit a 3-point shot a minute later to get the lead back to 17 with less than 8 minutes to play. The shot came at a time when the crowd was back in the game, and as the ball hit the net the place went silent.
The lead stayed well outside ten points for the rest of the game but Penn State did not stop playing hard. Late in the game, just before the under-4 timeout, Jamari Wheeler and John Harrar both went to the floor to try to get a steal. It looks like Harrar simply wanted to slide on his belly, not that there is anything wrong with that.
To their credit, the crowd stayed with Purdue for the entire game. With just over 2 minutes to play, the lead was cut to 11. John Harrar hit a pair of free throws to end the run. The Boilermakers continued to fight, cutting the lead to 8 with 1:14 to go. The lead was down to 7 when Harrar hit another pair of free throws. Harrar scored a career-high 13 points on the night, including 7 of 8 from the free throw line. The lead never got below 7 points again.
- With Myreon Jones sidelined a second game in a row the team filled the void by committee. Early in the game 5 different players hit a 3-point shot, a skill Jones is most notable for, and the guards did well to handle the ball as well.
- Lamar Stevens scored just 5 points in the first half in 9 minutes played. It was disappointing for the star to have to sit but it allowed supporting players to step in for he and Myreon Jones. The depth was tested and it passed with flying colors, leading by a dozen at the half.
- The Lions showed their poise in the second half as Purdue made several runs to try to get back in the game. With the crowd on their side and the tide seeming to be just a couple of baskets from turning in the favor, time after time, Penn State found a way to stop the run.
- Myles Dread stepped up in a major way. His defense is always great but his shooting touch seems to have returned. He was 4 of 5 from 3-point range and also had 5 assists.
The Lions will head home to take on Northwestern on Saturday. The game will be broadcast nationally on the Big Ten Network. The Wildcats (6-16 1-11 B1G) have not been able to finish games though they have had several leads late in the game. Last week they had a 19 point lead against Rutgers before losing in overtime after having never trailed in regulation.