Nittany Lions Grab Big Ten Road Win Against Rutgers 70-58
Coming off a huge upset over Iowa in the BJC, the (13-13, 4-9 Big Ten) Nittany Lions took to Piscataway, NJ to take on the (6-20, 0-13 Big Ten) Rutgers Scarlet Knights. The Nittany Lions came in with the clear advantage physically and mentally, having been playing their best efficient basketball of this season thus far. Rutgers, on the other hand, was coming in off of a struggling Big Ten slate paired with the loss of star freshman guard, Corey Sanders. Sanders was suspended for four games for disciplinary reasons, and was the team’s leading scorer with 16 points per game. The Nittany Lions put together a solid offensive and defensive attack against Rutgers despite a turbulent first half, and came away with 70-58 victory.
How It Happened
The Nittany Lions opened up the game firing on all cylinders after the tip. Shooting 5-6 from the field, Penn State went up by double digits rather quickly against the struggling Scarlet Knights. Shep Garner and Brandon Taylor led the way in points combining for 17, splitting them with eight and nine points, respectively. Until about the three minute mark, the Nittany Lions led Rutgers 23-12, but an invisible switch flipped for Rutgers in the final three minutes as the Scarlet Knights cut the deficit to six. Neither team notched a FG percentage over 33 percent, but the Nittany Lions maintained a healthy 3-pt FG percentage at 41 percent. Both teams headed to the locker rooms looking gassed, and with a scoreline of 28-22, it certainly seemed to show.
Penn State came out of the locker room guns blazing as the Lions played a more complete brand of basketball. Penn State took care of the ball and made smart passes throughout, while keeping the foot on the gas defensively in forcing Rutgers to take bad shots. Shep Garner and Brandon Taylor continued to put the ball in the basket, while Donovon Jack and Josh Reaves both put up double digits off of second half scoring performances. The Nittany Lion lead compounded to 15 and remained there for the majority of the second half. In the end, Penn State won a game it was expected to win thanks to stellar second half play.
Player Of The Game
Player of the Game honors go to Josh Reaves. The star freshman put together a solid game on both ends of the court, and finished with 12 points on a 50 percent shooting clip. To complement his stellar day from the field, Reaves was perfect from the free throw line while notching two steals, six rebounds, and four assists.
The Nittany Lions will take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Thursday, Feb. 26 in the BJC in a Big Ten conference matchup.