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Penn State Hoops Notches Huge Upset Win Over Virginia Tech

Penn State men’s basketball (4-2) took down No. 13 Virginia Tech (5-1), 63-62, on Thursday night at the Bryce Jordan Center as part of the 2018 ACC-Big Ten Challenge. 

The Nittany Lions played scrappy defense throughout the night and never let the Hokies run away with a lead. Penn State took the lead in the final minutes and never relinquished it, sparked by 18 points from freshman guard Myreon Jones. 

This game marked the biggest win of the season thus far for the Nittany Lions, as they were able to build some momentum heading into the Big Ten portion of their schedule.

How It Happened 

Penn State traded buckets with the Hokies early on. The two squads were tied at 3-3 going into the first timeout with 16:23 remaining in the first half. The Nittany Lions got off to a cold start from the field, going 1-for-6 on their shots in the first few minutes. 

Redshirt junior center Mike Watkins checked into the game after the first timeout, making his first appearance of the 2018 season. The big man quickly drew double teams from Virgina Tech down low in the paint. Watkins scored his first points of the night on a pretty post move, tying the game at 7-7 with 14:40 remaining. 

Ty Outlaw was hot for Virginia Tech’s offense throughout the first ten minutes of play. The small forward was 4-4 from the three point line in the first eight minutes. Thanks to his hot shooting, the Hokies led 19-13 with about 11 minutes remaining in the first half. 

The Nittany Lions climbed back quickly after the timeout, going on an 8-0 run that included three pointers from guards Jamari Wheeler and Rasir Bolton, as well as a strong finish inside from Lamar Stevens. The game was deadlocked at 23 with 7:10 remaining. 

Lamar Stevens put up a team high eight points in the first half for Penn State. The Lions played scrappy defense throughout the first half and headed into the locker room down 37-35. 

Despite a somewhat slow start offensively, Penn State’s defense looked impenetrable early on in the second half. John Harrar and Mike Watkins both had blocks while Wheeler took his second charge of the night.

The Hokies couldn’t put any points on the board by the time the first timeout hit, as the Nittany Lions led 39-37 with 15:55 remaining in the game. 

Virginia Tech jumped back quickly, going on a 9-0 run and taking a a 50-44 lead with 10:51 remaining. Guard Justin Robinson was a catalyst for the Hokies on the run, hitting his fourth three pointer of the night to spark the offense. 

Freshman guard Myreon Jones gave the Nittany Lions some life after Virgina Tech’s run, hitting his fourth three of the night with 8:40 remaining and bringing Penn State back within three points. The Hokies led 53-50 heading into a timeout. 

Penn State jumped back to a 56-55 lead with about five minutes remaining on a huge offensive rebound from Harrar, who eventually tipped it to Lamar Stevens who hit a wide open Myreon Jones for an easy lay up and his 18th points of the night. 

Guard play was huge for Penn State down the stretch, as freshman Rasir Bolton hit a big three followed by a big time finish inside from senior Josh Reaves that gave the Nittany Lions a 63-60 lead with just under three minutes remaining. 

Penn State’s defense continued to make big plays throughout the final minutes, injecting life into the crowd that made the Bryce Jordan Center feel like Cameron Indoor (kind of). 

A flagrant foul was committed by Jamari Wheeler brought the Hokies to the line with 1:24 remaining. Virginia Tech guard Justin Robinson hit both but the Hokies were stopped on the ensuing possession, giving the Lions a 63-62 lead. 

Penn State guard Myles Dread was sent to the line with 4.8 remaining and a 63-62 lead for the Nittany Lions. The freshman missed his first attempt of the one and one, but John Harrar quickly stole the ball back and was sent to the line with 0.7 seconds remaining. 

Virgina Tech had one final shot but failed to complete the inbound pass, sealing the upset win for the Nittany Lions. 

Takeaways

  • Freshman guards stepped up in a big way for Penn State tonight. Myreon Jones finished with a team high 18 points while Rasir Bolton had 11 and shot 3-6 from three. If the pair can keep this up while limiting turnovers, they could be leaned on as consistent scorers and take some pressure off of Lamar Stevens. 
  • Mike Watkins made a difference. The Philadelphia native only had two points on the night, but being able to have another player coming off the bench to give John Harrar some rest was huge for the Penn State big men. 
  • Penn State got 44% of its offensive misses, allowing the Nittany Lions to keep the ball out of the Hokies possession and convert on plenty of second chance looks. 

What’s Next 

Penn State begins Big Ten play when it travels to College Park to take on No. 24 Maryland (6-0) Saturday, December 1 at 5 p.m. on the BTN. 

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a freshman majoring in journalism. He is from Darien, Connecticut and is a lifelong Penn State football fan. He loves a good 80's comedy movie, The Office, and the New York Yankees and Giants. You can catch some of his ridiculous sports takes on his Twitter @gritdude and yell at him on his email [email protected]

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