Brandon Taylor Leads Penn State Hoops To 75-69 Win Over Kent State
Penn State basketball had a serious rebound to make less than 24 hours after a loss to Colorado that was equal parts heartbreaking and frustrating. The loss sent the Nittany Lions to the third-place game of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic against Kent State, as Colorado met SMU for the first-place game. Shaky starts to both halves were bolstered by strong endings, and Brandon Taylor led the Nittany Lions to a 75-69 win.
How It Happened
Unlike the night before, Penn State’s opponent was the one with a hot start. Where the Nittany Lions were previously dominant, Kent State matched the performance and got off to 5-0 and 12-5 leads in the opening minutes. Brandon Taylor, who had foul trouble early and often against Colorado, took his first personal foul early leading to Pat Chambers giving Deividas Zemgulis court time.
Penn State struggled to keep up for most of the first half, waiting until the last few minutes to tie the game then take a lead. A 6-0 run was one of few highlights, along with a Donovon Jack baseline dunk and Brandon Taylor scoring over a triple team. Taylor’s hot half continued with his 17th points giving the Nittany Lions their first lead, which they carried into intermission. Penn State led 42-37 at halftime, setting up an exciting second half.
Brandon Taylor was the star of the first half with his 19 points, but Shep Garner had an equal but opposite impact on the game. Last game’s leading scorer didn’t record any points in the half, but he supported his team as it picked up the late lead.
The second half started very poorly for the Nittany Lions, who went completely cold on offense. In the half’s first 12 minutes, the team put up nine points while Kent State tallied 20. Josh Reaves put up some statement blocks, but as the game began winding down, the Nittany Lions were still figuring out how to regain their momentum.
Finally, with about five minutes to play, the team found itself on the right side of a sequence that started with a deep Garner two-pointer, a turnover at the other end, and a put-back slam from Reaves. Penn State went on a 10-0 run to retake its lead and closed out the game to finish the non-conference season with a 9-4 record.
Player of the Game
Brandon Taylor went off, setting a career high with 29 points. Shep Garner’s relative absence on offense opened the door for him to shine, though Josh Reaves was another star of the game.
Pat Chambers’ squad is back in action on Wednesday, Dec. 30 in College Park for a matchup with Big Ten foe Maryland.