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No. 13 Penn State Hoops Defeats Northwestern 77-61 To Win Eighth Straight Game

No. 13 Penn State men’s basketball (20-5, 10-4 Big Ten) held off Northwestern (6-17, 1-12 Big Ten) to win 77-61 Saturday afternoon at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Lamar Stevens led the way with 23 points and seven rebounds, while Jamari Wheeler contributed 11 points and six assists. Myles Dread also had 16 points.

The Nittany Lions increased their win streak to eight as they pushed their way to a victory. They knocked down 10 threes and out-rebounded the Wildcats by 10 as well.

How It Happened

The Nittany Lions started out the game missing four threes, but Wheeler sunk one to end the drought. The Wildcats got off to a fast start, however, as they took a four-point lead three minutes into the game. Stevens responded though with a three of his own, followed by a Seth Lundy three to tie it up.

Northwestern’s pressure made it difficult for Penn State to find the basket throughout the early part of the first half, but Watkins did a good job getting into the paint. He drew a foul and knocked down both of his free throws in addition a nice put-back dunk.

The Nittany Lions continued to shoot from behind the arc, with Dread connecting on a three. However, Dread and Curtis Jones Jr. both missed on two consecutive air-balls. Wheeler broke that streak, however, as he knocked down his second three of the day.

A Dread steal-and-dunk, a slick move by Izaiah Brockington, and a nice dunk by Watkins extended the lead at the momentum for Penn State. Watkins continued to put pressure on the Wildcats as he sunk a mid-range jumper.

As the first half came to a close, clutch shots by Lamar Stevens, Curtis Jones Jr, and Izaiah Brockington allowed the Nittany Lions to extend their lead and go into the locker room with a 42-28 advantage.

Wheeler kicked off scoring for the Nittany Lions in the second half, but just like in the first, Northwestern got off to a hot start from the get-go. That didn’t stop Stevens, though, who scored on a nice fadeaway and a three of his own.

Northwestern continued to stick around as the Wildcats climbed back into the game, knocking down threes and getting into the paint. Their defense was key too, as they doubled Stevens and forced the team to shoot from behind the arc. But Penn State continued to keep the game in their favor, getting key baskets when it needed them.

Penn State struggled for a while midway through the second half and shot 0-for-6 from the field until Dread made the crowd erupt with a shot-clock-beating three to end the drought. After that, Northwestern shot an air-ball, which brought the crowd back to life.

Stevens ended up taking control of the game and cruised to victory, as his 23 points were what pushed the Nittany Lions over the edge en route to a 77-61 win.

Takeaways

  • The Nittany Lions love the three-ball, and that could get them into some trouble. In the first half, 21 of their 37 shots came from behind the arc. They made seven of those 21 attempted threes. A dynamic, modern offense certainly requires some three-point shots, but when a team like Penn State has players like Stevens and Watkins who thrive in the paint, it needs to use those players to their respective strengths.
  • Although not typically known for his offense, Wheeler was very important to Penn State’s attack. He knocked down three baskets from behind the arc, including the first field goal for Penn State in both halves. It was a rare performance from him, but one that may need to be replicated if the Nittany Lions want to go on a major run in March.
  • Foul trouble has been a major issue for the Nittany Lions this season, but this game was one where the fouls weren’t much cause for concern. Wheeler had four fouls, but Stevens and Watkins, two players who usually pick up the most fouls, stayed out of trouble for most of the game. That’s essential for this team as it heads toward the end of the regular season and into the Big Ten tournament.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will be back in the BJC to take on No. 22 Illinois at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 18. The game will be broadcast nationally on FS1.

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About the Author

Owen Abbey

Owen Abbey is a junior 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, dreaming of all of the ways he would win the tv show Survivor, and yes mom, actually doing schoolwork. If you would like to talk about sports or Survivor, the best way to reach out is on Twitter @theowenabbey. All other compliments may be sent to [email protected]

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