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Penn State Hoops Rolls Through Jacksonville State 76-61

Penn State (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) welcomed the Jacksonville State Gamecocks (0-2) to the Bryce Jordan Center on Monday night. 

The Nittany Lions struggled shooting from the charity strip and from beyond the three-point line, but were still able to edge out the visitors by relying on Lamar Stevens and Rasir Bolton for offensive production. Bolton shined bright, dropping 25 points in the victory, matching Stevens’ 25-point performance.

How It Happened

Jason Burnell opened up the scoring, hitting a three for the Gamecocks on their first possession of the game. A couple of baskets from Lamar Stevens and a trip to the line with 16:52 remaining in the half gave Penn State an 8-5 lead early on. A string of impressive drives from Jacksonville State, however, swung the game back in its advantage by the time of the first intermission as the Gamecocks jumped out to an 11-8 lead.

Another media timeout with 10:55 remaining in the half provided a bit of mercy for both sides as shooters went cold on both sides of the court. Pat Chambers’ squad failed to score for 4:01 before that timeout, going 0-7 from the field in the process.

The Nittany Lions eventually started hitting some shots, though, and took a 30-24 lead with 3:30 remaining in the half thanks in large part to freshman guard Rasir Bolton. Bolton led his team on a run in which Penn State hit 5-7 shots from the field. At the half, Penn State owned a 37-32 lead behind 14 points from both Stevens and Bolton. Reaves played just four minutes in the opening half after picking up two early fouls. 

Throughout the first 4:06 of the second half, Jacksonville State carved into Penn State’s lead, coming within a point at 42-41. The second half continued on without either team pulling away. Dread and Bolton hit a couple threes as the Nittany Lions pulled out to a 52-46 lead with 11:09 remaining, but Jacksonville State refused to go away.

Lamar Stevens began to assert his dominance late on, hitting a three to bring the Nittany Lions to 55 before converting an and-one opportunity, giving Chambers’ team a 59-48 lead. 

Rasir Bolton hit a clutch floater with about four minutes remaining in the game to give Penn State an eight-point lead before hitting an open Josh Reaves with a beautiful pass before Reaves drained a three. 

Bolton struck again, hitting a very deep three with just 2:00 remaining as the shot clock was ticking down to give Penn State a 69-59 lead. An offensive rebound and slam from Jacksonville State’s Christian Cunningham would bring it to 69-61 with 1:07 remaining in the contest. 

The Nittany Lions were able to break through the Gamecock’s pressure on the ensuing inbound, and Myreon Jones was free before he was hacked while going up for the free throw. A flagrant was called on the play and he hit both free throws to extend the lead back to 10 points. That would prove to be plenty for the Nittany Lions to walk away with a victory.

Takeaways

  • One nice thing about this team is that it doesn’t seem to rely on any one player too much. The offense ran almost exclusively through Tony Carr for the past two seasons, but that’s really no longer the case. At different times, guys like Bolton, Stevens, and Dread took over the scoring load.
  • Stevens playing at the four seems to fit him well. The Roman Catholic product can still step out and hit a three if necessary, but his game with his back to the basket is about as good as it gets.
  • The Nittany Lions miss their big man Mike Watkins. Playing against a big, athletic team like Jacksonville State showed some weaknesses in the paint as Penn State gave up ten offensive rebounds. 

What’s Next

The Nittany Lions will travel to Chicago to take on DePaul as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games on Thursday, November 15 at 9 p.m. You can catch the game on FS1. 

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About the Author

Derek Bannister

Derek is a senior majoring in Economics and History. He is legally required to tell you that he's from right outside of Philly. Email Derek compliments and dad-jokes at [email protected].

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