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Penn State 76, Nebraska 65: Lions Win A Dogfight

Penn State found itself in a battle against a scrappy Nebraska team, and used a big second half to pull away with the victory.

Jan 21, 2023; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions guard/forward Myles Dread (right) reacts after guard/forward Seth Lundy (1) made a three point shot prior to a timeout during the first half against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Bryce Jordan Center. Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

After a heartbreaking loss at Wisconsin, the Nittany Lions needed to get off the mat and bounce back against a suddenly competent Nebraska team that itself was coming off a win against Ohio State. And, with both teams effectively chalking this game up as a potential win, the potential for drama was there from the start.

Penn State started the game on a 10-0 run, fueled by Andrew Funk making a four-point play in the first possession of the game. A couple of threes later, the Nittany Lions had the early 10-point lead. Nebraska, to their credit, was not rattled. Fred Hoiberg called an early timeout to stem the tide, and the Huskers went on their own run, 8-0 on their part, to make the game closely contested.

For the bulk of the first half, the Lions would go on a lull, the beginning of which saw them go 1-for-8 from the field. It only got worse and worse until Dallion Johnson entered the game and scored two quick triples to wake the Lions back up. Nebraska would not go away however, and they stayed with the Lions through and through, matching Penn State’s outside shooting with points in the paint.

Fouls started to become a problem for Penn State, as Seth Lundy picked up two, and Evan Mahaffey, who had been playing tremendous basketball as of late, picked up three fouls in the first half. By the time it was all said and done, Nebraska was well into the double bonus, first reaching the bonus with 6 minutes left in the contest.

Penn State, to their credit, would finish the half the way they started it, as Funk made another layup that would go for an and-1, which gave Penn State the 29-23 lead they’d take to halftime.

Nebraska came out ready to fight in the second half. Down six, the quickly tied the game at 33 apiece, but the Lions wouldn’t make the same mistake against the Huskers, Once the game was tied, the Lions went on a 7-0 run to build themselves a cushion, and, from there on out, every run Nebraska had in them, the Lions answered.

As the game closed out, Penn State finally had its first double-digit lead of the game. Nebraska would bring it back to single digits a couple of times, but Micah Shrewsberry’s decision to drive to the basket in the second half only really meant trading baskets, as the Huskers weren’t really making many threes. The few times Penn State shot from three in the second half, they were the daggers that would make the double-digit lead stick.

Player of the Game

Andrew Funk - 23 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal

Funk was back in the swing of things in this game, as he made five three-pointers, all helping the Nittany Lions in key moments. his 22 points were highest on the team, followed by Seth Lundy, who had 16.

Random Observations

Way to go Dallion - Penn State looked about dead in the water as the first half started to wind down. Johnson gave the Lions a spark and jump started the shooting once more, allowing Penn State to close the half with a cushion.

Holy foul discrepancy Batman - Nebraska reached the double-bonus in each half. Penn State, on the other hand, reached the single bonus once, with 5 minutes left to play in the game. That should about tell the story of what each team prioritized.

Switching it up - Penn State seemed to play great first halves and awful second halves as of late. The Lions flipped the script this time around, having a much better second half than first.

Looking Ahead

Penn State travels to New Jersey as they take on No. 23 Rutgers on Tuesday. The Scarlet Knights are having another good season, but are vulnerable after a blowout loss to Michigan State. Game tips off at 6:30 PM Eastern on the Big Ten Network.