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Texas A&M 89, Penn State 77: Lions Come Up Short in First Test

Lions fall in 2023 NCAA Tournament rematch

NCAA Basketball: ESPN Events Invitational-Penn State at Texas A&M Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

After a light early season schedule, Penn State fell to No. 12 Texas A&M 89-77 in the first round of the ESPN Events Invitational. The game started off with tight defense and some poor shooting on both sides, with Penn State holding a 15-14 edge at the 10-minute mark. The game remained close, but as the first half went on, the Aggies started to seize control with their prowess on the offensive glass. Aided by a 15-5 run in the final minutes of the half, Texas A&M took a 39-32 lead into the locker room.

The second half was more or less a stalemate most of the way, with the two teams trading baskets and fouls. Texas A&M stretched the lead to 44-34 on a three by Wade Taylor, but Penn State was able to keep pace with solid free throw shooting and points in the paint. The Aggies consistently held a five to ten-point lead for most of the 2nd half, with runs by either team immediately being answered by the other. Penn State cut the lead to three with seven minutes left on an and-one from Nick Kern, but he missed the ensuing free throw. That would be the closest Penn State would get to another lead in the game, and the Aggies were able to pull away in the closing minutes for the 89-77 victory.

Player of the Game

Kanye Clary- 19 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal

Clary led Penn State in points and assists and made some tough shots in the second half to keep the Lions in the game.

Random Observations

Defensive Struggles- It was expected that Penn State would give up more points as the level of competition increased, but the defense really struggled in the second half. Texas A&M shot nearly 60% from the floor, and Penn State only forced ten turnovers, less than half of the team’s season average entering today’s game.

Broken Glass- Penn State was out-rebounded 33-20, including 12-7 on offensive rebounds. Texas A&M had too many second chances at critical points of the game. Rebounding is not quite as big an issue as it was last year, but there is definitely progress to be made.

A for Effort- This was not a game anyone expected Penn State to win, but there was a lot to like in this game. The offense was strong, shooting 53.8% from the field and showing ability to drive to the basket against a tough, physical team. If they can continue to improve on defense and rebounding, this will be a very solid season.

What’s Next

Penn State will play tomorrow against the loser of the FAU vs. Butler game. Tipoff is scheduled for 1:30pm, and the game will be broadcast on ESPN+.