By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Josh Reaves isn't exactly a 3-point shooter.
In his freshman season Reaves took 39 three pointers and made just three. He hadn't made one this season coming into Tuesday night's bout with Georgia Tech.
He couldn't have picked a better time to make his first.
After the Yellow Jackets pulled within two points with 2:07 to play, head coach Patrick Chambers called a timeout for Penn State to quell Georgia Tech's momentum.
On the possession following the stoppage, Reaves received a pass in the corner from Shep Garner with the shot clock winding down. Without hesitation Reaves fired from beyond the arc, and hit nothing but net to stretch the lead to five with 1:40 remaining.
"We give them the confidence to make that three at the end," Chambers said. "He made a good read and the play was a little bit broken and he shot it with confidence, which is terrific for him and his confidence moving forward."
"We congratulated him in the locker room because that was a huge shot," Garner said. "It is great to have him back because he brings a lot for us. I'm proud of him."
On Georgia Tech's next possession, Reaves made a steal on a tipped pass and finished a layup on the other end to essentially seal the game for the Nittany Lions. Penn State went on to win 67-60.
Reaves finished with nine points on 4-for-7 shooting and added five rebounds and four steals in 25 minutes off the bench. The sophomore guard missed the first five games this season due to injury but is starting to make an impact with his athleticism and length.
While he may not always fill up the scoring sheet, Reaves' presence is heavily felt on both sides of the court in a bevy of ways.
"Josh's length really hurt them," Chambers said. "We held Quinton Stephens to two points in the second half and for us to hold down Josh Okogie, he is a big part of that."
Okogie was coming off a stellar 38-point performance against Tulane, a Georgia Tech freshman record. With Reaves limiting him most of the night, Okogie shot just 5-for-21 from the floor and managed 13 points. He was averaging 19 points per game before Tuesday, which was the third highest mark in the ACC.
Ben Lammers, Georgia Tech's second-leading scorer, was also held in check in the game. Lammers averaged 17.6 before Tuesday but mustered just 12 points against Mike Watkins, who recorded a team-high five blocks in the game. Watkins also recorded his first career double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
"I go out there and act like no one will score more points than me," Watkins said. "It was just great that I stopped him and I brought my team up with some blocked shots."
Penn State held the Yellow Jackets to 36.4 percent shooting from the floor. The Lions tallied 11 steals and forced Georgia Tech into a season-high 17 turnovers on the night. They scored 24 points off those turnovers.
"We're doing a nice job of turning teams over," Chambers said. "We took those turnovers and put them into points and we produced, which is really important for us especially when we're not shooting well."
Garner led the Nittany Lions in scoring with 17 points on 6-for-14 shooting. Freshman Lamar Stevens added 12 points, nine rebounds and a few emphatic dunks.
It was a closely-contested game from start to finish, as neither team ever led by more than eight points. There were nine lead changes and the score was tied six times in the game.
The key deciders of the contest were Penn State's 12-point advantage in points off turnovers and Reaves' first 3-pointer of the young season in a clutch spot.
"I'm really proud of our guys," Chambers said. "We did not shoot the ball particularly well and we still found a way. That's really encouraging."