Penn State lost to the Boilermakers 76-73 on Sunday but make no mistake, the Nittany Lions stood toe-to-toe with the No. 6 ranked team in the country and gave them all they could handle, on their own floor no less. In the end, missed free throws and ticky-tack fouls proved too much to overcome but the statement was made that Penn State means business from here on out. Big Ten Player of the Week, Tony Carr, led the way with 19 points, and Shep Garner hit five three-pointers to chip in 17, but it was an unlikely duo that manned up when we needed them most.
With center Mike Watkins handcuffed in foul trouble most of the game, backups Julian Moore and Satchel Pierce more than held their own against Purdue's giants in the paint, limiting both to single digits in the scoring column. The Nittany Lions also got meaningful minutes off the bench from sophomore Nazeer Bostick, and freshmen Jamari Wheeler and Jon Harrar. Up to this point, Lion’s bench play hasn’t been much to speak of, with the exception of Bostick, so if Sunday was any indication of the future, then the team may have added another level to their repertoire.
Up next, another must-win with an old conference foe at the BJC on Wednesday night: Michigan. The Wolverines come in ranked No. 22 and just dispatched their rival, the Buckeyes a few days after we sent them packing. Surprisingly, or maybe not depending on how much you’ve watched lately, Penn State is favored by three. The curtains have been raised in the upper level and Coach Chambers is asking for us to do what we do best by packing the house. We’re 19-10 overall with our worst basketball far behind us. Whether its too late to make a big enough impression or not on the tournament committee remains to be seen but a victory tonight will definitely go a long way.