UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On the heels of a career-high 25-point performance in Sunday's 93-67 win over Longwood, sophomore forward Brandon Taylor is playing the best basketball of his Nittany Lion career, to date.
The Tabernacle, N.J., native enters Tuesday night's tilt against Monmouth shooting a team-best 58.3 percent from the field and 48.1 percent from beyond the arc. The hot start is a byproduct of Taylor's offseason effort in the gym.
"We always talk about earning the right," head coach Patrick Chambers said. "If you're going to come in extra, if you're going to shoot extra, you are going to make shots in the game. It's really that simple. He has earned the right to take 16 shots because he works that hard now."
Averaging 14.8 points per game, Taylor has reached 15 or more points in three of the last four games.
"His confidence is sky high. It is great to see," Chambers said. "I think it also validates that if you work hard, this could happen. If you don't work hard and you don't put the hours in, you don't put the time in, well, your shooting is not going to be as good. It's that simple."
An athletic forward with great range on the floor, Taylor is a dynamic player for the Nittany Lions. Although he guards bigger forwards on the defensive end of the floor, Taylor can stretch a defense with his ability to knock down perimeter shots on offense. In doing so, it creates matchup problems for opposing teams.
With guards like Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill looking to distribute the basketball, Taylor knows he will have opportunities to score.
"I've definitely been getting into the gym more," said Taylor. "You know, after practice, late nights, just taking shots for this team. For this team to be good, I'm going to have to knock out those shots. For D.J [Newbill] and Tim [Frazier] to penetrate and get into gaps, my job is to knock out all of those shots."
Taylor played in all 31 games last season, making starts in 18. He led the team in 3-point shooting percentage during the non-conference slate last season at 37.8 percent (17-45). Through five games, Taylor already has made 13 threes and is shooting 11 percentage points higher than last season's clip in during the non-conference schedule.
As a team, the Nittany Lions head into the Monmouth game shooting 48.6 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from beyond the arc. Taylor's offensive output has played a central role in helping the Nittany Lions average 81.8 points per game in the first five contests of the season.
The Lions host Monmouth on Tuesday (6 p.m.) before traveling to Barclays Center in Brooklyn for a two-game set on Friday (vs. St. John's) and Saturday (vs. Ole Miss or Georgia Tech).
The Monmouth Hawks enter Tuesday's game with a 1-3 record following a 64-54 setback at St. John's on Sunday. The Hawks have lost three-straight contests, including a 79-73 loss to Penn and an 82-66 setback to Seton Hall. Monmouth joined the Metro Athletic Conference prior to the 2013-'14 season after spending 26 seasons in the Northeast Conference. The Hawks do not have a senior on their roster this season. Additionally, Monmouth has 14 first or second-year players in its program. Junior Deon Jones is the team's leading scorer, averaging 18.0 ppg while shooting 52.3 percent from the field. Monmouth has shot 37.9 percent from the field through the first four games of the season.
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