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Penn State Hoops Handles Nebraska 76-65

Penn State men’s basketball (13-6, 4-4) took care of business against Nebraska (10-10, 3-6) Saturday afternoon at the Bryce Jordan Center with a 76-65 victory.

Andrew Funk led the way with 23 points and shot an efficient five-for-10 from beyond the arc. Seth Lundy followed suit with 16 points of his own with two steals. Jalen Pickett recorded a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds to go along with five assists.

Derrick Walker led the Cornhuskers with 20 points, and Keisei Tominaga followed with 13. Sam Griesel and C.J. Wilcher also dropped 11 points each.

How It Happened

Head coach Micah Shrewsberry rolled out a familiar starting five ahead of the annual Coaches vs. Cancer game against Nebraska.

Kebba Njie won the tip and found Andrew Funk off a screen for an and-one three that started the game off. After a few empty possessions for both squads, Seth Lundy and Funk each drilled three-pointers and the Cornhuskers called their first timeout as the Nittany Lions held onto a 10-point lead in just the first two minutes of action.

Coming out of the timeout, Walker made use of the paint and made three straight layups for Nebraska’s first points of the game. After a Denim Dawson steal, Emmanuel Bandoumel joined the layup party with one of his own. At the first media timeout of the first half, Penn State held onto at 10-8 lead.

After nearly five scoreless minutes, Kanye Clary drove to the hoop and kicked a pass back to Funk who drilled his third three-pointer for the Nittany Lions. Jamarques Lawrence responded quickly with a layup and, at the midway point of the first half, Penn State remained up by three.

Griesel knocked down a pair of free throws before Jalen Pickett knocked down a jumper which was the Nittany Lion’s first points inside the arc. Dawson quickly found C.J. Wilcher who responded with a three. Then, Lundy found an open Funk for another triple. With seven minutes left in the first, Penn State kept its three-point lead.

Griesel tallied on another two from the charity stripe, and both teams got cold as neither scored for two minutes. Finally, Clary found Dallion Johnson in the corner as he splashed a triple for Penn State. A few possessions later, Walker hit a cutting Griesel who finished it off with a dunk. The Nittany Lions quickly responded with another Johnson three-pointer.

With just under two minutes left in the first half, Pickett made use of his strength and bullied his way to a layup. Dawson responded moments later with a bucket from beyond the arc. After a missed three from Funk, he picked up a steal on the other side of the court and went coast-to-coast for an and-one layup.

After a made free throw from Dawson and a half-court heave from Pickett, the first-half buzzer sounded. Penn State held onto a 29-23 lead with 21 points coming from beyond the arc.

Walker and Caleb Dorsey traded free throws to start the second half, then Nebraska then jumped out to a 9-2 run that was capped off with a Wilcher triple. However, that energy was short-lived as Lundy responded with a three of his own that reclaimed the lead before the first media timeout of the second half was called.

Following a pair of free throws from Lundy, Wilcher and Dread traded three-pointers. Pickett cashed in on two easy buckets in the paint on back-to-back possessions, but free throws from Wilhelm Breidenbach kept the Cornhuskers within four.

Clary showcased his skills with a behind-the-back move that allowed him to score an easy layup. A few possessions later, Lundy swiped the ball from Griesel and sunk a step-back jumper on the other end of the court. Nebraska called its first timeout of the second half with 12:20 left in the game as it was down by nine.

After a missed Cornhuskers’ jumper, Pickett knocked down a jumper that gave Penn State a double-digit lead. However, Tominaga responded with a triple before Shrewsberry called a timeout.

Pickett and Tominaga traded jumpers as the game approached the midway point of the second half. After a Pickett turnover, Tominaga sliced his way to the paint and hit an acrobatic and-one layup for the Huskers as it cut the lead to six.

Lundy and Walker traded jumpers, and then Tominaga drilled a deep triple that brought this game within a single possession. On Penn State’s next possession, Funk found a hole in the defense and sunk a layup before a media timeout was called with just under eight minutes left of action.

Funk made his defender leave his feet as he drove to the hoop and hit an up-and-under layup for his 20th point of the contest. Tominaga sank two from the charity stripe in response. After a few empty possessions, Clary hit an and-one jumper for Penn State, and, after making his free throw, gave the Nittany Lions a nine-point lead with five minutes to go.

Lundy and Walker traded buckets on both teams’ next possession. After a Cornhuskers’ miss, Funk hit another triple that increased Penn State’s lead to 12. Wynter drove to the lane and cashed in on a layup, but it was followed up by back-to-back buckets in the paint for Walker. Then, a few possessions later, Griesel slammed one in.

Nebraska was forced to foul as the game entered the final minutes. Dread knocked down two free throws, and after a missed scoring opportunity, Wynter cashed in on a layup that put the game away.

The final buzzer sounded and the Nittany Lions walked out of the Bryce Jordan Center with a 76-65 victory.

Takeaways:

  • It’s quite the sports weekend in Happy Valley and the crowd did not disappoint in the Bryce Jordan Center. This may have been the biggest crowd of the season for Shrewsberry and Co. An early tip Saturday game definitely helps, but this crowd should be the standard going forward.
  • The greatest halftime show of all time? The Pop Rocks cheer squad absolutely murdered its performance which was highlighted by a human jump rope. Just unbelievable. I’m still perplexed. We desperately need more Pop Rocks performances in State College.
  • Okay, now let’s talk ball. The first half was quite literally Penn State threes vs. Nebraska layups. The Nittany Lions shot 20 three-pointers compared to the Cornhuskers’ nine attempts. Nebraska had 14 points in the paint compared to just four from Penn State. However, as everyone knows, three is more than two.
  • Kanye Clary and Evan Mahaffey are really starting to grow into their roles. Whether one of them is on the court or both, it seems that Penn State’s play on both offense and defense elevates. Although they aren’t filling the stat sheet just yet, their impact on the court truly speaks louder than the box score. It will be very exciting to see these two develop for the rest of the season.

What’s Next?

Penn State will travel to New Jersey next Tuesday, January 24 with a matchup against No. 23 Rutgers. Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. and will be broadcasted on the Big Ten Network.

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About the Author

Tobey Prime

Tobey is a senior studying broadcast journalism from Lancaster, PA. He is a major Pittsburgh sports fan and Miami Heat fanatic. When Tobey isn't writing for Onward State, you can catch him looking at photos of his pugs. Send your best insults to [email protected] or sports takes to @tobey_prime on Twitter.

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