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Penn State Hoops’ Hot Start Carries It To 87-58 Win Over Central Connecticut

No. 23 Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2) cruised to a victory over the Central Connecticut Blue Devils (0-12). Myreon Jones was the spark for the team as the Nittany Lions won their first game as a ranked squad since 1996. His 21 points led both teams scoring, while Izaiah Brockington added a solid 11 points off the bench.

The Nittany Lions had a very strong defensive performance, and they had total control of the transition offense. Even when the Blue Devils tried to full court press, Penn State found a way to get its tenth win of the season.

How It Happened

Jamari Wheeler had a beautiful pass to Lamar Stevens to give Penn State the lead in the opening minutes. After a defensive rebound, Wheeler quickly ran down the court for a transition lay up. The Nittany Lions took control of the transition game, as Myreon Jones had a quick three and a layup on back-to-back possessions. Myles Dread added a three to the quick start, putting Penn State up 15-0.

Central Connecticut finally scored a basket with a little over seventeen minutes to go. However it did not stop Penn State’s scoring as Izaiah Brockington scored a three. Myreon Jones added another three for the Nittany Lions.

Jamari Wheeler made a nice move at the basket to score a layup. After a great lockdown defensive possession, Mike Watkins slammed the ball home. Jones added another (!!!) three, and Watkins scored his 1000th point on a beautiful dunk, as the Nittany Lions went 11-11 before the media timeout.

After the media timeout, Watkins great night continued as he added two blocks in the span of 30 seconds before the Blue Devils called timeout.Central Connecticut had its best stretch midway through the first half, scoring five points before Myles Dread stopped its momentum with a three-pointer.

Another great defensive possession led to a very beautiful dunk by John Harrar. He also won a lot of battles on the offensive glass, adding a put back basket to his point total for the evening.

Izaiah Brockington added another transition basket and picked up a foul in the process as the Nittany Lions continued to push the tempo in the last few minutes of the half. The transition game continued to thrive as Lamar Stevens added a quick basket as well. Curtis Jones Jr. also added a quick layup as well.

Central Connecticut did not go away though. While the Blue Devils didn’t come close to evening up the score, they didn’t give up either. At halftime, the score was 51-31.

Central Connecticut came out firing with a quick three to start the second half, and for the next two minutes neither team scored. The drought ended when Myreon Jones scored on a layup.

Jones was the prominent scorer in the second half, but both Mike Watkins and Lamar Stevens had some highlight plays. Izaiah Brockington continued to contribute off the bench with an “and-one” basket.

Penn State continued to push the ball offensively, even though it had some foul issues. Myreon Jones added his fourth three of the night after another strong defensive possession, which was a trend all night long.

As the game drew to its end, players who hadn’t played as much this season got valuable experience. Trent Buttrick made the most of his playing time as he scored a three and knocked down one-of-two free throws. In the last second of the game, Stephen Beattie hit a three pointer, which was his first career basket.

Myreon Jones finished the game with a team-high 21 points, while Mike Watkins wrapped up the game with eight points, eight rebounds, and a team-high five blocks. Lamar Stevens finished with 10 points as Penn State won 87-58.

Takeaways

  • Mike Watkins 1000th point is a very significant milestone for the Penn State basketball program. He joins greats like Talor Battle, Tim Frazier, and his own teammate Lamar Stevens on that list that consists of several Nittany Lions. High level production from Wakins is an essential component for this team to succeed as it heads into conference play.
  • Izaiah Brockington has turned into a very important piece to this team. He has become one of the top players coach Pat Chambers has on his bench. If Lamar Stevens or Mike Watkins have an off game, look to Brockington to pick up the slack because he has the talent to help this team in any way.
  • Even though they were playing a team that had yet to get a win, this was an important victory for the Nittany Lions. This was their first game as a ranked team, and for some teams it could get into their heads. They could have come out sluggish, or played like they did against Yale or Alabama. Instead, the Nittany Lions came out strong as a complete unit. Some will say that the opponent was the reason the Nittany Lions won, but if they play like this for the rest of the season, it won’t matter who the opponent is.

What’s Next

The Nittany Lions will take on Cornell at noon on Sunday, December 29. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.

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About the Author

Owen Abbey

Owen Abbey is a sophomore from Annapolis, Maryland, majoring in Secondary Education and minoring in Social Justice in Education. When he is not writing for the blog, he enjoys rooting for the Baltimore Orioles and Ravens, supporting Penn State basketball and softball, watching way too much Netflix, and yes mom, actually doing schoolwork. If you would like to talk about sports or your favorite tv show, the best way to reach out is on Twitter @theowenabbey. All other compliments may be sent to [email protected]

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