The Big Bounce Back
On Friday night at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, Penn State was able to salvage a third-place showing in the NIT Tipoff Tournament. They let a 15-point first-half lead completely evaporate, but unlike the collapse and thud against the Rebels two nights prior, they were able to tack on another big run. Leading 61-55 with just over six minutes to go they went on a 24-9 run to end the game with a flourish. Mike Watkins was a man among children in the paint as he pulled down 16 rebounds and added 15 points. Lamar Stevens led all scorers with 20 despite dealing with foul trouble for much of the 2nd half and Myreon Jones chipped in 16.
Back home in the BJC for a late tip-off on Wednesday night, Watkins continued his inside domination by racking up another 15 rebounds and making life miserable for Penn State’s ACC foe. A total of 47 rebounds over the past three games pushed the big man over 800 in his career with no sign of letting up. Myreon Jones has quickly become a reliable threat offensively and led all scoring with 22. Stevens added 14, and Isaiah Brockington chipped in 13 off the bench. The Nittany Lions stormed the gate to take a 19 point first-half lead that it never relinquished throughout the evening.
Up next, nothing gets easier as the Nittany Lions travel to Columbus on Saturday to kick off conference play against the No. 6 ranked Buckeyes at noon before returning home for a clash with No. 3 Maryland on Tuesday night. A win or at least a strong showing against either one of both will go a long way towards validating all the early-season buzz this squad has been getting. As tired as some of us may be from the same message over the last few years, it’s beginning to feel like we’ve finally got ‘the climb.’ We are right where Pat Chambers envisioned us all along!