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Penn State Hoops Overcomes Butler 68-62

Penn State men’s basketball (3-0) took down Butler (1-1) 68-62 on Monday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Jalen Pickett recorded Penn State’s second triple-double in school history against head coach Micah Shrewsberry’s former team.

This is the Nittany Lions’ first 3-0 start since their historic 2019 run that was cut short.

How It Happened

Shrewsberry rolled out his go-to lineup chock full of veterans against the Bulldogs. Manny Bates grabbed the tipoff and the first basket for Butler, but Caleb Dorsey quickly drained a three in response to open the game.

Bates, standing at a whopping 6’11”, proved to be a challenge for the Nittany Lions early on when he blocked a Pickett layup attempt that solicited a gasp from the crowd at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Camren Wynter tallied Penn State’s second bucket of the game after a four-minute scoring drought, followed by a fast Seth Lundy three-pointer. The Nittany Lions completed a 7-0 run to lead 8-4 at the whistle for the first media timeout.

Freshman Kebba Njie entered the game to combat Bates’ height, along with fresh legs from Dallion Johnson and Myles Dread. Njie’s man-on-man defense against Bates opened the floor for a Pickett conversion and a Dread three right off the bench.

The Penn State lineup shut down Butler’s offense while boosting its own to a 17-6 lead midway through the first half. It wasn’t until Simas Lukosius notched a three-pointer to end the Bulldogs’ five-minute scoring drought that the visitors showed any life, but Camren Wynter immediately drained one of his own in the following possession.

It took quite a while for Andrew Funk to get in on the scoring, but he sunk a big three when it counted and closed out a streak of misses from the Nittany Lions.

Wynter ended the first half on a high note with an offensive rebound turned jump shot that swished through the net as the halftime buzzer echoed in the arena. Penn State led the Bulldogs 33-26 heading into the locker room.

Bates and the Bulldogs were fired up out of the break and cut their deficit to three in the opening possessions. Lundy dropped a three-pointer on the squad to keep the lead, but Butler continued to creep closer on the scoreboard.

Eric Hunter Jr. tied the game at 38 heading into the media timeout and forced the Nittany Lions to reevaluate. Funk picked up a foul call and sent Hunter Jr. to the stripe where he went one-for-two, but ultimately took Butler’s first lead of the game.

Funk pulled off a huge back-to-back three-pointers that brought the lead back to the Nittany Lions and the crowd to its feet. Njie forced a turnover to reclaim possession and set Funk up for his six-straight points that grabbed a 48-44 lead.

Penn State rolled through the following possessions and completed a 7-0 run, forcing a Butler timeout.

Dorsey, Pickett, and Dread knocked down eight fast, consecutive points and silenced Butler with a 15-2 run. Njie brought the hammer down with an alley-oop from a generous Picket to make a once-tied game 62-48.

The final minutes of the game were broken up by fouls and each team traded time at the free throw line. Lundy was the first Nittany Lion to break the cycle and dunked a pass from Dread to put an exclamation point on the night with 30 seconds remaining in the game.

Penn State ran the clock out in its final possession and ended the matchup with a 68-62 win.

Takeaways:

  • Manny Bates is a problem. The 6’11” graduate student and former NC State center made big men Kebba Njie and Caleb Dorsey look small. Njie’s inexperience unsurprisingly peeked through against the DI veteran, but not so much that he was overpowered. Still, Butler picked up a few too many offensive rebounds and grabbed buckets that, with time, Njie will defend with ease.
  • It was really cool to see Penn State hoops rally around Butler and Project 44. Micah Shrewsberry has a lot of history with the Bulldogs and his love and respect for the program remained true even though he manned the opposite bench.
  • Gritty, not pretty is real.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will head south to take on Furman at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, November 17, in the Charleston Classic. Folks can tune into the match on ESPNU.

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About the Author

Keeley Lamm

Keeley is a senior from Richmond, Virginia, majoring in journalism. She's an associate editor and talks about awesome stuff on our podcast, Podward State, too. You can usually find her on a porch, but if not, feel free to contact Keeley on Twitter @keeleylammm or [email protected].

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