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Reaves Energizing Nittany Lions

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GAME 2: vs. Fairleigh Dickinson

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Nodding along in the postgame media room press conference, Penn State's Tony Carr leaned forward and spoke into the microphone.

"Offseason grind leads to in-season shine," he said with a smile, drawing a laugh from Nittany Lion Josh Reaves, seated just beside him. 

Carr's comment was about Reaves, who finished second on the team with 17 points while leading the squad with nine rebounds and four steals in an 81-57 win against Fairleigh Dickinson.

Reaves' point total came second to Carr, who logged 20 points for his second straight game with at least 20 points, including a perfect 9-for-9 mark from the charity stripe. Carr also dished out seven assists, adding a career-high three steals.

"I thought Josh Reaves' energy was unbelievable, he was all over the place," Chambers said postgame.

The duo were just two of five double figure scorers and two of nine Nittany Lions who combined for a Bryce Jordan Center-record 18 steals.

Trailing early the first half, it was Reaves who sparked the Nittany Lions with his first 3-pointer of the day bringing Penn State within four, 14-10, with 13:15 left in the first half. 

Mike Watkins slammed in a dunk before Penn State triples from Davis Zemgulis and Reaves guided the Nittany Lions to their first lead of the game, 18-17. 

Fairleigh Dickinson used a 3-0 spurt to get back on top, but Reaves came through once again with a layup to even the score, igniting yet another run.

Penn State surged ahead with a 16-9 run, pulling ahead by three, 26-23, entering the media timeout with 8:03 left in the opening frame. Reaves accounted for 12 of the 16 points during the stretch as the Nittany Lions never looked back.

Behind another 19-6 scoring run, Penn State rolled into the locker room with its highest first-half point total since scoring 45 against Illinois on January 28, 2017, leading 45-29 as Carr heaved a shot from his back at the buzzer.

Reaves scored 12 of his 17 points in the first half, collecting six rebounds - just having fun as he put it postgame.

"When it comes to emotion, I'm just having fun honestly," Reaves said. "I find defense fun and I'm just having a great time. Our trainer says when I'm smiling, I'm having a good time out there, so I try to do that as much as possible."

For Chambers, Reaves' ability to fill the stat sheet in the scoring column comes as a byproduct of his defensive commitment.

"When you're thinking about it the other way, when you're thinking you have get 20 points today and 'I need to score,' guess what typically happens? Nothing good," Chambers said. "You don't defend, you don't rebound, and you don't get your points. So he flips the script, but he's our second-leading scorer right now because he defends, he rebounds, and he's having a great time doing it."

Evident in the observation from Carr, Reaves has put in significant work in the offseason, especially when it comes to his performance behind the arc.

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"My teammates have been doing a really good job of giving me the confidence to shoot the ball and just take advantage of my speed and my quickness," Reaves said. "Just using those abilities that I have God-given, so try to get a couple offensive rebounds, quick tip backs, steals, deflections, and run outs. I've been working a lot over the summer on my three. They just keep finding me when I'm open, and I'm just going to keep shooting the ball."

Reaves and the rest of the Nittany Lions return to action next Wednesday, Nov. 15, hosting Montana in the first game of the Legends Classic set for 7 p.m. in the Bryce Jordan Center. 

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