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Penn State Hoops Blows Out Texas A&M 76-59 In First Round Of NCAA Tournament

No. 10 seed Penn State men’s basketball (23-13, 10-10 Big Ten) shot lights out in a 76-59 victory over No. 7-seeded Texas A&M (25-10, 15-3 SEC) Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Arena.

It was all Andrew Funk as he led the Nittany Lions with 27 points on a blazing-hot 8-10 shooting spree from downtown. Jalen Pickett also nearly dropped a double-double with 19 points and eight assists.

The Aggies had three scorers reach double-figures with Dexter Dennis leading the way with 19. Tyrece Radford and Wade Taylor followed it up with 14 and 10, respectively.

How It Happened

Micah Shrewsberry opted with the starting lineup he trusts most ahead of Penn State’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 2011.

Kebba Njie won the tip and Jalen Pickett fed him in the post for the first bucket of the game. Julius Marble cashed in on back-to-back hook shots in the paint for Texas A&M. After a few empty trips, Andrew Funk and Tyrece Radford traded three-pointers as the Aggies held a two-point lead through the first three minutes.

After another hook shot from Marble, Funk drained another triple and Pickett followed shortly after with a step-back jumper. Wade Taylor stopped a nearly three-minute dry spell for the Aggies with an and-one jumper. Shortly after, Pickett sunk one at the line as the Nittany Lions remained down with 12 minutes left of first half action.

Pickett swished another jumper before both teams went on a three-minute scoring drought. Then, Seth Lundy swished a corner three and Camren Wynter drilled a step-back jumper that gave Penn State a six-point lead. However, it was short-lived as Hayden Hefner sunk a triple after Wynter’s conversion. At the final media timeout of the first half, the Nittany Lions led 18-15.

Funk knocked down three from the charity stripe and made another three-pointer for Penn State as it increased its lead to nine before the Aggies called a timeout. The Nittany Lions closed out the half on a 14-7 run with a collective team effort from Myles Dread, Evan Mahaffey, Pickett, Funk, and Njie. After a missed buzzer-beater try from Dexter Dennis, Penn State held a commanding 38-22 lead at the half.

The second half started just like the first: Pickett found Njie in the paint and the freshman big threw it down for the first score. Radford then responded with a driving layup on the other side of the court. Just a few possessions later, Funk drained a triple which kickstarted an 8-4 run before the first media timeout of the second half was called. At this point, the Nittany Lions held a 20-point lead.

After Dennis and Taylor knocked down back-to-back triples, Penn State responded right back with three straight from downtown including Funk’s sixth and seventh three-pointer of the contest. The second media timeout of the half was called and the Nittany Lions increased their lead to 23.

Dennis swished one from downtown off the half and outscored Penn State 6-2 as the game clock moved past the midway point. However, Pickett jump-started another run for the Nittany Lions as he scored six of his own in an 8-1 run. Then, Dennis hit a quick three and Radford found success in the paint as the game approached the final five minutes.

Funk and Dennis traded blows from downtown coming off the timeout. As time winded down, Texas A&M outscored Penn State 8-2, but it was too late for the Aggies.

The Nittany Lions came out of the round of 64 with a commanding 76-59 victory.


  • Penn State’s first-half performance was pure dominance. Not only did they hold the SEC runner-ups to 22 points, but also forced the Aggies to shoot 8-25 from the field, forced seven turnovers, and shot an impressive 6-9 from three-point land. It was just a masterclass performance to start the tournament.
  • Speaking of a masterclass, Andrew Funk had the game of his life. Funk looked like Jimmer Fredette after sinking eight of his 10 triples for a 27-point performance. Truly special.
  • The dance continues! Penn State isn’t done yet, ladies and gentlemen. With tonight’s three-point clinic and stellar defense, this team may be the scariest group in the tournament.

What’s Next?

Penn State will take a break on Friday before continuing its run in the NCAA Tournament against No. 2 seed Texas at 7:45 p.m. on Saturday, March 18, in Des Moines. Folks can tune in to the game on CBS.

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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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