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Penn State 81, Northwestern 78: We Have a Winning Streak, Folks

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The usual recipe of threes and defense gets it done.

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Penn State Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State took the floor against Northwestern Saturday night looking for their second straight win. Myles Dread was once again absent, putting more pressure on Jamari Wheeler, Sam Sessoms, Izaiah Brockington, and Seth Lundy. Both teams were sloppy and off the mark early on, with Northwestern missing their first four three-point attempts, and the Nittany Lions committing multiple turnovers. It may have taken Northwestern four minutes to score their first points, but they hit two buckets in a row to take a 5-4 lead five minutes into the contest.

The pace of the game remained a little sluggish midway through the first half, with plenty of fouls and turnovers, but both teams answered each other when they did connect-whether it was Northwestern’s Boo Buie (the half-brother of Talor Battle) kissing high off the window, or Brockington knifing down the lane with his usual instinct for the hoop. After the under-eight media timeout, the aforementioned guard hit two free throws, John Harrar swished a hook shot (and bricked a dunk), and Lundy buried a triple to give Penn State a 27-21 advantage with six minutes left. Buie hit two deep threes reminiscent of his sibling, but Myreon Jones’ trey in the last minute and floater as time expired gave Penn State a 38-33 lead at the break. Turnovers were the story of the half, with the two teams combining for 21 giveaways, 12 of which belonged to Penn State.

Both Buie and Brockington (say that three times fast) continued to stand out in the second half, but the Nittany Lions slipped into “hero ball” in the beginning of the half, settling for contested jumpers rather than making the extra pass. As a result, Northwestern re-took the lead 45-44 at the under-16. The Nittany Lions’ lightning rod struck back with a lefty flush on the break, and Myreon Jones hit another three and got a put-back to give Penn State a 54-49 edge.

The game continued to see-saw until the late stages, with Lundy making a three from the top of the key to pull Penn State within one, and after an offensive rebound, Lundy drove to the hoop and ended up at the foul line to put the Nittany Lions out front to stay 74-73 with under four minutes to go. Jamari Wheeler put the Wildcats away with a tough three from the near side with just over a minute to go, and Penn State held off a late charge to capture their second win in a row. Brockington led all scorers with 21, while Lundy had 16 and seven rebounds, and Jones added 15. Miller Kopp had 19 and Boo Buie had 18 for the Wildcats.

Player of the Game

Brockington continues to be a spark for the Nittany Lions, adding four rebounds to go with his 21 points. Lundy also deserves an honorable mention for his efforts tonight.

Four Factors Analysis

As you can see, trips to the charity stripe were plentiful for the home team, more than doubling the amount of the Wildcats. They will need to continue that aggressive play as conference play continues.

Random Observations

Live By The Three...You Know the Rest: The Nittany Lions shot 45% from deep, but it was second half treys from Jones, Lundy, and Wheeler that helped put them over the hump.

Steals, Steals, Steals: The Artful Dodger would be proud. Penn State forced Northwestern into 14 turnovers, with 10 of them coming via steal.

Izaiah Brockington: I like him; he is a good player.

It doesn’t have to be pretty: 30 combined turnovers and 18 lead changes. It may not have been pretty, but they are now one win away from .500.

Looking Ahead:

Penn State is scheduled to play Michigan Wednesday night at 7 PM, but with the news that Michigan athletics is shutting down for the next two weeks, this game will be postponed for the second time. Therefore, Wisconsin is the Nittany Lions’ next opponent on the 30th.