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Penn State Hoops Falls 88-78 To Butler At ESPN Events Invitational

Penn State men’s basketball (4-2) fell to Butler (4-2) 88-78 in the Nittany Lions’ second game of the ESPN Events Invitational. It’s the second consecutive loss for the Nittany Lions who fall to 4-2 on the season.

Kanye Clary led the scoring for the Nittany Lions and recorded a career-high 28 points while Ace Baldwin Jr. added 15 points, drilling three triples.

Like the previous game against Texas A&M, it was a back-and-forth contest between both teams with Penn State trailing by three points midway through the second half, however, late misses and turnovers by the Nittany Lions dug themselves in the hole that they couldn’t get out of.

How It Happened

After winning the tip, the Nittany Lions were unsuccessful on their first two offensive possessions which allowed Butler to score the first bucket of the game. Ace Baldwin Jr. answered that with a long three-pointer, and Nick Kern Jr. steal went coast to coast with a slam dunk to make it 5-2 in favor of Penn State.

The Bulldogs didn’t trail for long after Jalen Thomas drilled his second shot of the game, and DJ Davis sniped a long three for the lead. Kanye Clary tied things up with a floater and back-to-back layups by Clary and Baldwin gave the Nittany Lions the lead once again. Pierre Brooks didn’t let the lead last and received an and-one to tie things up at 12.

Both groups traded possession until a Connor Turnbull triple put the Bulldogs ahead by three before Kern went on a 6-0 run on his own with three straight layups. The lead grew after a put-back shot from Clary and a mid-range shot from Zach Hicks and was followed by another three from Clary before heading into the media timeout.

Out of the timeout, Clary found Hicks to extend the lead to nine points. The Bulldogs finally got their offense going again, getting four points from Andre Screen and then an and-one layup and free throw from Brooks to make it a three-point game. After a missed layup by Clary, Wahab grabbed the board and put back up the tough layup that ended the scoreless streak for Penn State.

With a little over three minutes to go in the half, Butler made it a one-point game after a driving layup by Davis and took the lead after Screen drilled two free throws making it 35-34. Clary went right down the floor with a hard layup to regain the lead before Brooks’ hot first half continued with a long-contested three. Hicks answered with a three of his own to go back up one before a layup by Landon Moore and a Boden Kapke dunk made it 42-39 Butler after the first 20 minutes of play.

At the start of the second half, Clary fouled Davis for an easy two points, and Butler got three more points after an and-one layup and free throw from Jahmyl Telfort. Clary finally got the scoring going for the Nittany Lions with a tough layup, and Kern followed that up with another layup of his own.

Clary made another shot to get back down to a four-point game before Posh Alexander and Thomas made back-to-back shots to get the lead back up to eight. Kern answered going coast to coast with another layup until Brooks drilled a three in the corner to go up nine, causing Mike Rhoades to call a timeout.

After the timeout, both teams couldn’t hit a shot until Clary converted a driving floater in the paint. Now down eight, the Nittany Lions needed to go on a run, and that started with a three-pointer from Leo O’Boyle, and a steal and driving layup from Clary to cut the deficit to three.

Baldwin drilled a three to make it a three-point game again before Brooks answered with a three of his own. Up four, Telfort nailed another tough layup and was followed up with another Brooks three to go back up nine.

Brooks nailed his fifth triple and drilled another shot from long-range before Puff Johnson answered with his first three of the afternoon. The three-point contest continued on the other end with another make from Davis before Baldwin joined in on the fun with a three of his own to cut the deficit back down to eight with a little over four minutes to go.

Things went from bad to worse for the Nittany Lions who couldn’t make a shot and continued to turn the ball over, allowing Butler to increase the lead to 14. Three-pointers by Hicks and Clary got the score back to 10 points, however, Butler held its lead for the remainder of the game to win 88-78.


  • Kanye Clary continues to lead the way on offense for the Nittany Lions. The sophomore guard totaled a team and career-high 28 points off 13-22 shooting, including five rebounds and three assists. While the rest of the team struggles to score consistently, Clary continues to shine and put up big games for Penn State.
  • Despite the loss, Ace Baldwin Jr. knocked down three triples and scored 15 points in total. While more offense from him will be needed in the future, the senior seems to be finally finding his rhythm.
  • Zach Hicks continues to play big. Hicks knocked down big shots throughout the game, totaling 11 points with nine coming from three-pointers and leading the team in rebounds.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will wrap up the ESPN Events Invitational with the 7th-place game against the loser of the VCU-Boise State. That game is set to tip off at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, November 26, and can be watched on ESPN2 or ESPNU.

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About the Author

Matt Brown

Matt is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in sports studies from Bensalem, Pa. Matt is a huge Philadelphia sports fan and an overall sports fan in general. When not watching sports, you'll find him watching reruns of Community or The Office. To reach him, follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @matt_brown63, or email him at [email protected].

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