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Carr Powers Penn State Past No. 8 Buckeyes

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When Penn State sophomore Tony Carr subbed out of the game with 1:27 left on the clock, an energized Bryce Jordan Center crowd stood up to roar. 

With the Nittany Lions inches from completing their second series sweep against Ohio State in the Patrick Chambers era, it's a moment Carr will never forget.

In front of nearly 11,000 clad in white, Carr powered Penn State past No. 8/9 Ohio State for a 79-56 victory. It's the fourth straight for Penn State, moving the Nittany Lions to 19-9 on the year and 9-6 in conference play.

"Life is all about memories and moments like that," Carr said following his fourth 30-point performance of the season. "I just want to cherish it."

Long before hordes of students stormed the court in a postgame frenzy, the buzz in the BJC was clearly palpable. Penn State students poured into their seats as early as an hour before the first whistle, quickly spilling into every available overflow section.

Even Chambers noticed. Something special was about to go down.

Trailing 4-2 early in the game, Penn State wasted little time getting fired up, using a 15-2 run capped off by Carr's second triple of the night to jump ahead by as many as 11, 17-6. 

The Nittany Lions then widened their advantage to as many as 14, holding Ohio State's Keita Bates-Diop without a single point until the clock ticked down to the 7:45 mark in the first half. 

The Buckeyes managed to trim the deficit to nine, 25-16, but Penn State confidently answered with a 7-0 run punctuated by back-to-back triples from Carr and junior Josh Reaves.

"It was important to keep our confidence that way," Chambers said. "We talked about one possession. Don't think about the end result, don't think about when the buzzer's going to go off. Think about the next possession. Take care of the possession that's in front of us and that's all you can control." 

The Nittany Lions would not be derailed, using a 13-2 run spanning nearly four minutes to close out the first half with a 24-point lead, 45-21. 

It was Carr who sent the crowd into pure pandemonium, snatching the ball from mid-air off a Reaves baseline heave before crashing to the ground in between a pair of fallen Buckeyes to see the ball fall through the hoop for the and-1. He nailed the free throw attempt with one second left on the clock. 

"We go over that play sometimes but it never ends like that," Carr said. "That was crazy. I heard coach yell so I knew Josh was going to throw it, but everything just worked out perfectly that play."

Penn State went 5-for-10 from 3-point range in the first half, with Ohio State headed into the locker room at 0-for-7.

"Everybody really contributed to really slowing down Ohio State," Chamber said. "I've seen them score in bunches and the game is over like that. For us to really draw that line in the sand and really defend and guard those guys is big for our confidence." 

The Nittany Lions held the Buckeyes to a season-low 56 points, keeping Bates-Diop to 10 points and Jae'Sean Tate to six.

The mark in the sand went from a line to a trench as The Nittany Lions quickly bolstered the lead to as many as 30 out of the break. Penn State would only strengthen its defensive grip, wihtout letting the lead dip below 16 for the remainder of the second half.

"When the pieces come together it's fun to be a part of, it's fun to watch," Chambers said.

There's no denying Penn State has endured its fair share of challenges throughout the year, but for Chambers, Thursday marks one more step.

"Early in the season we took some hits," Chambers said. "We learned from failure. We really did. We learned from those setbacks on how to respond to those situations, on how to respond to adversity. You can see it in our guys' body language and in our faces. They were just so determined tonight not to let them back in it in the second half."

Pregame Reading: Nittany Lions Ready for Ohio State Finale

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Since Penn State's stunning buzzer-beater victory on the road at Ohio State in late January, there's no doubting the Nittany Lions have perhaps the most momentum they've had all season. With wins in four of its next five games Penn State has won its last three straight, returning home to the Bryce Jordan Center fresh off a road win at Illinois.

The Illinois win moved Penn State to 8-5 in conference play, good for sixth in the standings, also marking the most league wins for the program since the 2010-11 season.

Now set to meet Ohio State Thursday in an 8 p.m. tipoff, Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers is calling for white out conditions.

"To be able to win the way we did just shows the growth of the program and the talent and buy in of the program," Chambers said. "Really, if that doesn't get you excited to come Thursday night - 8 p.m., whiteout. We need everybody to show these guys support because they play a fun style." 

Bench Development
Increased bench production has been a point of emphasis for Chambers throughout the season. With foul trouble nagging at the Nittany Lions, Chambers was pleased with what he saw from the bench against the Illini.

"I was super excited for our bench guys, Nazeer [Bostick], Johnny [John Harrar] and Jamari [Wheeler] and Julian [Moore]," Chambers said. "They were fantastic to hold down the fort while we were in foul trouble there. I thought they gave us great, great minutes and I let them know that during the game and I let them know that after the game."

Bostick finished one point shy of a Big Ten career-high mark with seven points against the Illini. Wheeler, who currently ranks second in the Big Ten with 42 steals on the year, also dished out three assists in addition to a pair of steals.

All About Us
Headed into a final regular season matchup against Ohio State, Chambers noted the focus still remains on the Nittany Lions.

"It's really about us and what we can control, what we do, what our principles are, what our foundation is and what our mental conditioning says and states," Chambers said. "It's really about us again, to keep taking steps and getting better."

That step-by-step approach to getting better has been a staple of Penn State's continued development throughout the season and something the Nittany Lions have started to see coming together. 

"That's a massive marginal gain at the end of it," Chambers said. "That means you're getting five or 10 and 20 percent better every time you step on the floor or in film sessions. That's the goal with the team right now. Stay present, stay right here, get a little bit better, get that one percent better and then God willing, get ready to compete against Ohio State."

Speaking of Ohio State ...
Penn State's win against the Buckeyes earlier this season was one to remember for sure as the Nittany Lions knocked off then-No. 13 Ohio State for a victory against its highest ranked opponent on the road since 2009. 

It was Carr's three at the buzzer the secured the win, as the Nittany Lions shot a school record 78.6 percent from the 3-point line. Marking its best performance of the year, Penn State went 11-for-14 from behind the arc and 5-for-5 in the second half.

As Chambers noted though, the Nittany Lions aren't exactly going into Thursday banking on another record-setting night from 3-point range.

"I would say if we can defend and rebound like we did in the second half at Illinois, holding them to 16 points, that was be pretty good," Chambers said. "It goes back to our foundation, our identity and who we are. If the shots aren't falling, well now we have to rely on our defense and our rebounding. If we can defend and rebound and get out in transition, well now you're getting easy baskets and you might not need 11 three's. Now you just need good quality shots."

A Bit on Bates-Diop
Chambers called Ohio State's Keita Bates-Diop one of the best in the Big Ten and the Nittany Lions will have to contend with his ability to make clutch plays when called upon. 

Just 10 days ago Bates-Diop reached the 1,100 career points mark following a 35-point outing against Illinois. Heading into the matchup he's currently ranked second in the conference with

11 double-doubles on the year. Ranked first in the Big Ten averaging 19.9 points per game, he's also ranked first in the conference and 15th nationally averaging 7.52 defensive boards per game.

Penn State Friday Five

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's basketball returns home from a heavy road stretch to host Iowa Saturday at 6 p.m. in the Bryce Jordan Center.

It's been two months to the day since the last time the Nittany Lions and the Hawkeyes met with Penn State opening the early part of the Big Ten schedule with a 77-73 win on the road in Iowa City.

Following a mid-week Big Ten road loss at Michigan State, Penn State's Tony Carr met with members of the media for an update ahead of the first of two consecutive home outings, with Maryland set to visit Wednesday, Feb. 7 for a 6:30 p.m. tip.

From the Spartans to budding confidence and belief, it's the Friday hoops five to kick off another stacked Penn State weekend in Happy Valley.

Home Sweet Home
On the heels of its largest home crowd since 2011, Penn State has settled into some home court advantage this year. On the season, 11 of Penn State's 15 total wins have come at home, with the Nittany Lions owning an 11-3 mark in the Bryce Jordan Center.

With seven games left in the regular season, including four at home, Penn State already has the most home wins since the 2010-11 season when the Nittany Lions went 13-5.

Recapping Michigan State
Penn State led by as many as 12, but came up short after the Spartans used a second-half surge to clip a two-game Nittany Lion winning streak.

"They made shots," Carr said. "We were dealing with some foul trouble, some guys were out for an extended period of time but they made a great run that we couldn't withstand that led them to a win."

Although the Spartans were ultimately boosted by a 52-point second half, Penn State will have to find a way to halt a big second half Saturday. Iowa enters the matchup having scored at least 50 points or more in the final frame five times this year, including each of the last two games - most notably with a 57-point second half in its most recent win against Minnesota. 

The Hardest Days
Earlier this week, Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers noted that the hardest days are January to February. Much like he said prior to the trip to East Lansing, things can still go a lot of different directions for the Nittany Lions. If there's anything from his pre-Michigan State presser though, it's that staying present and making small steps toward getting better have to be the focus down the stretch.

"I think our 'why' is to keep getting better, to be the best team that we can be by the end of the year," Chambers said. "These kids came here and they took a chance on us and they wanted to come here together to do something special."

Building Belief
Chambers also noted early this week that there's a clear belief among the Nittany Lions when it comes to truly believing in one another on any given night. It's something Carr has also seen develop since he arrived on campus for his freshman year last season. 

"I've definitely seen the belief develop," Carr said. "We all go through the trials and tribulations together and we all know what it feels like to be down and we know what it feels like to be up and we know what it takes to win these games now. Coach is just on us every day about being consistent and having that same energy and effort and hopefully that leads us to winning games." 

Finishing it Out
With seven games remaining in the regular season, Carr noted the mentality right now is right where it needs to be, knowing that the ability to compete with anybody no matter the location is engrained in the mindset.

To close it though, for Carr, it's going to take some mental toughness. 

"I would say, we just have to be mentally strong," Carr said. "We go on the road and we're here and some night shots might not be falling, some nights the whistle may be against us. We just have to stay mentally strong through it all. The crowds get loud on the road, teams make runs, so I would just say that mental part of it."

Nittany Lions Move One Step Closer

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - From an emotional beginning to an emphatic ending, Penn State hoops entertained an energized crowd at the Bryce Jordan Center Saturday afternoon. In front of a season-high crowd clad in bright colors, Penn State defeated Rutgers marking its first back-to-back Big Ten win this year.

Coming off a thrilling road win at No. 13 Ohio State Thursday, even Chambers noted there was concern on his mind.

"Usually a win like that in that type of fashion against a top 15 team, especially Ohio State, You're worried about how we would respond," Chambers said. "You're worried about all the tweets and text messages, all that, getting in their head." 

In the tale of two halves Saturday, what might have looked like Chambers' worst fear, turned out to be another step in the process.  

Penn State and Rutgers kept it close in the first half until Tony Carr sent the Nittany Lions into the locker room with each of last five points in a 7-0 run for a 28-23 advantage. Despite foul trouble and shooting slumps, Penn State upgraded its defense to spark its second half offense.

"We really drew that line in the sand - and we were going get stops and I challenged this team the last two days about rebounding," Chambers said. "This is one of the best rebounding teams in the Big Ten, this is one of the best defensive teams in the Big Ten."

Penn State dominated the Scarlet Knights on the boards, out-rebounding Rutgers 42-27, with just two offensive grabs.

After holding Rutgers to 28.6 percent shooting in the first half, the Nittany Lions came out of the break with a 7-0 run to build a double figure lead that they would hardly relinquish before closing out the 60-43 win. 

Bolstered once again by the energy of Josh Reaves' return, for him, the adjustment came down to communication.

"We were just communicating, talking, pointing, doing everything we could to help each other out," Reaves said. "They're a very good team, very physical team and we managed to get a win. They're a very big team with 7-footers coming off the bench and they play very well together."

Reaves was just one of three double figure scorers for the Nittany lions, finishing tied for second on the team with 15 points, adding four steals and a block. Carr led the way offensively for the Nittany Lions, scoring 16 points to go along with four assists. 

Mike Watkins powered the defense with 15 points and 19 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the season. With 19 boards, Watkins grabbed the most rebounds for a Nittany Lion since Aaron Johnson had 21 against Northwestern on Jan. 15, 2005.

Postgame, while reflecting on the emotion of a successful THON game, Chambers was of course passionate about the cause, but it perhaps all became a little bit brighter in the outcome on the court.

"There's plenty of examples about a good win and then coming back and not being sharp, not having that mental toughness to be able to come back and play the same 40 minutes or I've been saying the full 200 minutes, collectively," Chambers said. "I'm not going to say it's a breakthrough, this is a process. We have to buy into this process, take it one day at a time, one step at a time."

A win-win THON game

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By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - While Penn State knocked off Rutgers, 60-43, Saturday night in front of a packed Bryce Jordan Center, the night was about more than just basketball.

 

Saturday's game between the Nittany Lions and the Scarlet Knights marked Penn State's annual THON game. It's a night for giving back and helping the fight against childhood cancer, with every $5 student ticket sale going directly to THON. It also doesn't hurt to come out with a win, too.

 

"I thought it was a win-win today," head coach Patrick Chambers said postgame. "With THON, the THON game and what THON means to me personally and to our program and our players and our staff. I'm blessed I have four healthy children that are running around the halls right now and I won't forget that."

 

For junior guard Josh Reaves, Penn State played for more than just the team Saturday night.

 

"We were able to show kids with that type of illness that we're going to get it done for them," Reaves said. "I hope they had a really good time at the game with everybody. I'm just really happy that we could put on a show for them."

 

Penn State students were gifted exclusive "dance with us" shirts in various bright colors as they entered the game. The giveaway lit up the Bryce Jordan Center in a colorful sea of 13,677 fans, the largest crowd since 2011.

 

"I've never seen it like that before," Reaves said. "All those people were here for a cause and like coach said in the locker room it's a win-win."

 

Pregame, the concourse filled with THON families and children visiting various stations for games and prizes. Joined by her mother, McKenna Speed, a THON child, sang the national anthem brining along the crowd in unison.


 

"I started singing," Chambers said. "Unfortunately, and I'm embarrassed to say this, sometimes I don't and I sang today. I think a lot of people in the Bryce Jordan Center started to sing. For me, that was everything. It was an emotional beginning for sure. To know that she had the courage and the guts to get in front of 13,000 and change, get up there and sing and do the best she can, and then everybody joined in to help her along. That's what Penn Staters are all about."

 

As is customary with the annual THON game, the team hosted a postgame festival in the south gym for THON families after the game.

 

The festival was full of food, music and games of all sorts. There was corn hole, hoola hoop competitions and basketball games all happening at once. Even the Nittany Lion got in on the action, challenging children to games of one-on-one and taking pictures with fans.


 

The team set up a massive blow-up obstacle course that had kids entertained from start to finish. Seven-footer Satchel Pierce joined in, and struggled to get through, but eventually found his way to the end.

 

The team joined the party to sign autographs for the families and take fan photos as well.

 

Chambers entered the gym prior to his postgame press conference to a loud applause following his team's victory. He was quickly introduced and grabbed the microphone to address the crowd.

 

The raspy-voiced Chambers, with his vocal chords clearly tired from yelling over the raucous crowd all night, applauded the fans for their passion during the game and spoke on how proud he was to be a part of an event like this.

 

"It was because of you," Chambers said. "You brought the energy. You brought the noise."


 

The music blared once again and the party was on.

 

Not just a party to celebrate the win. A party to celebrate life.

 

As important as wins are at this point in the season to the Nittany Lions, Chambers said there's more important things in this world than the game of basketball. That's what Saturday night's THON game was all about.

 

"Whenever I can do anything for THON I'm going to do it, and the fact that we got a win is nice too. It was definitely a great day for Penn Staters," Chambers said.    

Penn State Friday Five

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's basketball stunned the crowd at Value City Arena Thursday night, topping No. 13 Ohio State 82-79 with a game-winner from Tony Carr at the buzzer. With less 48 hours until the Nittany Lions return to the court, Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers noted it only took about an hour until he was moving on to Rutgers.

From last night to what's ahead, take a closer look at few storylines in the Friday hoops five before starting another packed Penn State sports weekend.

Channeling the Mental Conditioning
Mental conditioning is of course a familiar phrase for Chambers this year, but coming off a thrilling win with a tight turnaround on deck is just the type of scenario for it to really shine through - or punch through as he might say.

"We've been here before, so let's look back at those experiences and see what we did right and what we did wrong and learn from those experiences," Chambers said.

Penn State will go short today, with Chambers listing scout review and film on the schedule, not changing up the routine too much though.

Carr's Best Game Yet
Chambers called Carr's defensive performance against the Buckeyes his best all year.

"I thought he was in stances, I thought his energy was great, I thought his body language was fantastic," Chambers said. "That goes into leadership. I don't think it was because he was making shots. I saw that in walk through. I saw that in practice the prior three days."

Carr was certainly making shots though, at 10-for-14 from the field and 4-for-5 from behind the arc totaling 28 points in addition to five assists and five rebounds. When asked if he'd go further to say it was Carr's best game since he arrived, Chambers confirmed. 

"I think everybody maybe wants to think Texas A&M but I would say no, we lost," Chambers said. "I think across the board, 10 out of 14, five rebounds, five assists and a win, I think we would all say - I think he would say, I'd rather not score 30, I'd rather score 28 and win but be efficient."

Reaves Returns
Chambers noted he and director of basketball operations Ross Condon met the day prior to the team's trip to Columbus, where Condon opted to remain home in Happy Valley should Josh Reaves finish addressing an academic matter. By mid-afternoon, it was Condon who hopped in the car with Reaves to embark on the nearly 330-mile drive. They arrived around 6:45 p.m. ahead of the 8 p.m. tipoff.

"The beauty of it was the entire team was on the floor," Chambers said. "He [Reaves] came in, saw me, we went over some things, scouting report, things of that nature basketball wise. I told him to have some fun because you know he was going to be shot out of a cannon just going crazy. I thought he kept his emotions in check. When he walked out on to that court, the team erupted. It was a big mosh pit in the middle of the court, which was pretty amazing. Pretty fantastic to have that kind of energy and love for each other." 

For Chambers, the energy was palpable form the moment Reaves rejoined his teammates, only adding a whole different level of confidence and belief for the Nittany Lions, who went 1-3 in the four games he missed.

"They played very loose, played with great confidence and let's give Josh a little credit," Chambers said. 

Zemgulis into the Starting Lineup
Penn State saw junior Deivis Zemgulis enter the starting lineup for his first career start against the Buckeyes. Averaging just six minutes per game in conference play, Zemgulis went 5-for-5 from the field with one triple and a key rebound in a Big Ten season-high 14 minutes on the court.

"Davis has been bought in," Chambers said. "I know he's had a crazy career, up and down and everybody wants to critique his shooting. Davis, as you can see, his body has changed, he has gotten stronger, he has gotten tougher. The buy in factor for me was huge. When he's in practice, he's a junior, he knows the rotations, he knows the slides, he communicates. We were struggling rebounding, he's going to find a body." 

THON Hoops
Saturday's game also marks Penn State's THON hoops game, featuring $5 proceeds from student ticket sales directed toward the organization. Penn State will also have free t-shirts available to the first 3,000 Penn State students with special activities located throughout the Bryce Jordan Center concourse ahead of the tipoff. Doors will open early Saturday, with fans allowed to enter at 2:30 p.m.

"Anytime I'm with Four Diamonds or working with THON, there's something that touches your heart that you want to help these families," Chambers said. "The kids are so resilient. Sometimes it's about the parents really, supporting them and helping them. Anytime we help lock arms or chain up with THON the organization and just be a little bit a part of them, is a win for Penn State basketball."

Penn State Ready to Punch Through

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For Penn State men's basketball, there's still plenty of hoops to be played. With Monday's unfavorable result now well in the past, the Nittany Lions have had time to rest up and recover ahead of Saturday's mid-afternoon road game at Northwestern.

Embarking on its first road trip since a close 4-point loss at Indiana 10 days ago, the Nittany Lions will play three of their next four games away from Happy Valley. Despite splitting back-to-back overtime games since the trip to Bloomington, the subsequent ups and downs are all part of the process for Penn State head coach Chambers.

"I know nobody wants to hear about the process but it's getting a little bit more consistent, it's growing up a little bit more each game, each possession, each set back," Chambers said. 

"Watching film, breaking it down, getting back to work today, getting back to practice, these guys are going to come in with great energy."

Energy is exactly the way to define the last time Penn State and Northwestern met, with the Nittany Lions sending an enthusiastic crowd at the Bryce Jordan Center home buzzing from a 78-63 win against the Wildcats.

That victory also kicked off a blazing scoring stretch for sophomore Lamar Stevens, who totaled a career-high 30 points in the victory. In the month of January alone, Stevens is averaging nearly 21 points per game, shooting 57.1 percent from the field.

Although Chambers noted Stevens was a bit on the mend this week, he mentioned the staff would opt to be smart about his practice schedule leading up to gameday.

Penn State will hardly have the luxury of rinse and repeat game plan though, as Chambers noted Northwestern has made some significant changes to what the Nittany Lions will see come Saturday at Allstate Arena.

"Northwestern has changed the way they play," Chambers said. "They're playing zone now. They played some one-three-one, some zone, some two-two-one, so since our game they had played all man-to-man all year long, since that game, they have completely changed, offensively, they style of play."

As Chambers also noted, Penn State has seen success against zone this year, pointing to a 77-73 win on the road at Iowa in the conference opener in early December.

Penn State never trailed in the victory against the Hawkeyes, with double-digit scoring from different Nittany Lions, led by a 22-point performance from Stevens.

Including the win against the Wildcats Penn State is 2-2 in its last games, all part of some necessary adversity in the overall growing process. Among those games, two were decided by four points or less. If tough times don't last and tough people do though, that's exactly what the Nittany Lions are embracing headed into a road-heavy January finale.

"I just think we need to go through the tough times to be able to come out on the other side," Chambers said. "We're still in control of our destiny. We control it still. There's plenty of basketball left and we believe that we're in great position. We're in every game."

For Chambers and the team, it's clear success is well within reach, but the learning lessons are meant for the Nittany Lions to endure together.

"We're close. We're right there. We're growing, we're learning, we're right there, we're right where we need to be," Chambers said. "We just need to get guys healthy and we have to punch through."

Penn State Breaks Through in OT Victory

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's basketball saw some much-needed toughness on display Friday evening. In its first overtime game of the season, sophomore Tony Carr had nine of Penn State's 11 points in extra time, including a deciding jumper to guide the Nittany Lions a 76-74 win against Nebraska.

On what would be considered an off night for Carr, he finished with 17 points and eight assists. Carr's heroics though, came at perhaps just the right time, as he struggled for most of the evening before nailing his first two-point shot from the field with fewer than two minutes remaining in overtime. 

Seated in the media room postgame after recording his 100th win at the helm of the program, it was his team's ability to breakthrough and finish that Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers led off with. 

"We were talking about toughness, getting over this hump or breaking through and being physical," Chambers said. "I feel Nebraska is one of the toughest teams in this league. One of the more physical teams in this league, and I felt like we were a little bit tougher today." 

Penn State had Nebraska right where it needed at halftime, entering the locker room leading 33-24, holding the Huskers below 30 percent shooting from both the field and the 3-point line.

With a new starting lineup featuring true freshman Jamari Wheeler, things were seemingly sailing along smoothly.

"It's great to have him out there starting with us now," Carr said reflecting on Wheeler's performance. "He makes everybody better, mainly me. Helping me get easier shots, getting me off the ball. His changing of the tempo of the game is great for everybody."

Trailing only by one in the opening half, 15-14, sophomore Lamar Stevens connected on a triple before Wheeler stripped the ball for a steal to set Stevens up for a breakaway slam in between a Husker free throw to spark a 14-8 stretch that carried the Nittany Lions to halftime.

"I feel like when Lamar has three-point shot's falling, he is unstoppable because he's bigger and stronger than most guards are supposed to be," Carr said. "When his threes are falling, it's kind of like pick your poison."

Stevens closed out yet another consistent performance, totaling 26 points and seven rebounds for his third consecutive 20-plus scoring outing.

Watkins was equally as consistent, scoring 20 points and grabbing 15 boards for his fourth straight double-double. Watkins is the first Nittany Lion since Geary Claxton in 2007-08 to record four consecutive double-doubles (Lehigh, 12/31/07, Northwestern, 1/2/08, Illinois, 1/6/08, Minnesota, 1/12/08).

With roughly six minutes remaining in regulation and Penn State up by nine, 59-50, Nebraska moved to a one-three-one, opening up on a 10-2 scoring streak across the next three minutes to arrive within one. 

Mike Watkins answered with a pair of free throws but Nebraska went 3-for-4 from the charity stripe to tie the score at 63-63. Penn State couldn't pull ahead for good as a late Husker jumper forced overtime. 

"We have to give Tim [Miles] credit," Chambers said. "He is a really good coach. That took a lot of guts, with six minutes to go that is not your staple defense and he did it for the next six and five for the next eleven or twelve minutes." 

Cue Carr in the overtime period, as his coaches and teammates continued to give him the confidence to keep going for it.

"When you're telling a kid that, he tends not to think about what's happening as a negative, he tends to think, alright, these guys really support me, I'm going to go get the next one," Chambers said. "He hits a big three, he hits a couple of floaters, it's big time."

It's all part of the game for Carr, who noted that even though is last game winner might not have gone in, it's this one that matters. 

"There's going to be nights like that when your shot isn't falling and defense is keying on you," Carr said. "You just have to keep attacking and keep taking those shots. I've been working so hard, and I'm going to keep taking them as the season goes on."

Penn State Looking Toward BJC Return

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State basketball is back in a bit of a familiar place, preparing to return home from a bitter road loss to regroup. Although pleased with the progress and the high points along the way, it's clear to Nittany Lion head coach Patrick Chambers that it's once again, time to respond. 

"It's a new day, we've got to get better today," Chambers said. "We were a little out of sync and that's okay. We'll watch film, we'll come back to work, get in practice with those different lineups that we now have and try to get those lineups better."

On the heels of its third Big Ten loss by six points or less, Chambers hasn't lost sight of the path, opting to take small steps forward instead of casting focus too far ahead.

"I always feel like we're right there and then we always get a little shot of adversity and then you've got to punch right back, you've got to come back and handle it, make your tweaks and adjustments," Chambers said. "We are thisclose to being able to handle the next obstacle, the next adversity and getting on a run. I really believe that." 

Since resuming conference play, the Nittany Lions bounced back from a road loss at Maryland with a defining 78-63 win against Northwestern last weekend in front of an energized crowd at the Bryce Jordan Center. Looking to build off the momentum, the Nittany Lions entered a notoriously hostile environment on the road Tuesday night at Indiana, falling short in a comeback attempt. 

"Our offense did not look anything like it did on Friday," Chambers said reflecting on the loss to the Hoosiers. "We need to play more consistent on the road and if we can bottle up that energy and that effort that we played with last Friday night, we'll find success."

Road-woes aside, for Chambers it all comes back to a familiar phrase - mental conditioning. It's all encompassing too, from desire and energy to discipline and focus, it's something that Chambers has yet to consistently see from the Nittany Lions.

"It's fighting through when you're tired, it's fighting through when you're not shooting well, it's fighting through when the team's going on a run," Chambers said. "It's fighting through, handling obstacles and adversity and sticking together, especially on the road when their fans are going crazy. That's when you've got to fight and stick together the most."

There's still nearly 10 days before Penn State heads back on the road, providing back-to-back opportunities for the Nittany Lions to get back on track in front of a growing home crowd. With students returning to their usual spots in the stands led by the Legion of Blue, there's plenty to look forward to.

"The Legion of Blue has been awesome," Chambers said. "I've actually gotten to know them really well and that's been a great relationship for me. When they get here and when the students come it's awesome and we have a great atmosphere." 

In Penn State's last Bryce Jordan Center outing, the Nittany Lions were confident in the win against the Wildcats, powered by a career-high 30-point outing from sophomore Lamar Stevens. With at least 20 points in the last two games, consistency from Stevens is key for the Nittany Lions. 

"When he's fresh, he's in stances, he's doing a good job," Chambers said. "I'd like to see him rebound a little bit more but just the mental conditioning. It's that aspect of the game when he's hitting that 34-35-minute mark, he's got to really punch through for us."

The Nittany Lions host Nebraska Friday, Jan. 12 at 7 p.m. in the Bryce Jordan Center. At 12-6 on the year, the Huskers are 3-2 in the Big Ten coming off of a 63-59 win against Wisconsin on Tuesday.

Stevens Powers Penn State in Bounce Back Win

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -  Penn State sophomore Lamar Stevens said it's his head coaches' favorite word - respond.

That's exactly what the Nittany Lions did Friday evening, bouncing back from a tough road loss at Maryland just days earlier with energy and enthusiasm. 

"Sometimes after a loss like that, where you're winning for 36 minutes and you come up short, it can fracture a young team, and that's something we talked about for two days, about toughness, about will and about just taking little steps," Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers said. "We don't have to take a big, giant step. That's not how this works. Take small steps and continue to fight and compete on every possession."

Dialed in from Wednesday film session to the first whistle on Friday, Chambers had a good feeling heading into the matchup.

"You have to have a short memory when you're playing this game and that's something our team is really developing," Stevens said. "We got back to work the next day and worked even harder and for the next two days, we worked hard, so I think it was able to really show tonight."

Although leading early, Penn State found itself with a one-point advantage, 7-6, before a bucket from Stevens and a steal and score on a breakaway from freshman Jamari Wheeler sparked some momentum. Wheeler then forced a Wildcat turnover to send the Nittany Lions into the first break leading by five, 11-6.

"Jamari is just an unbelievable leader and energy guy, juice guy, competitive fire, I can't say enough about what he does for our team," Chambers said. "He's a selfless teammate and he wants to play great." 

Wheeler came off the bench to dish out a season-high five assists, leading the team with three steals.

Penn State grew its advantage as high as 16 before closing out the first half with a seven-point lead, 41-34, despite a late Northwestern triple at the buzzer.

The Nittany Lions though, shot a blazing 71 percent from the floor in the first half, led by 16 points from Stevens and 11 from Mike Watkins, marking the best shooting clip in a half in 11 seasons.

"Breaking down the film from last year, I thought we were a little too stagnant on the offensive end and we made sure that wasn't going to happen," Chambers said. "We had great movement, great flow. I think Lamar [Stevens] did a great job of picking and choosing his spots. I think his teammates did a really good job of finding him."

Stevens continued to roll out of the half, opening the second frame with an alley-oop slam before a pair of Watkins free throws.

The Nittany Lions quickly fell into a three-minute scoring drought as the Wildcats chipped away at the advantage. Northwestern narrowed the gap to as few as three, 47-44, helped out by back-to-back 3-pointers with 15:08 left to play. 

It was a 9-0 Nittany Lion run though that Northwestern head coach Chris Collins called the backbreaker. 

Penn State's scoring streak featured a pair of Stevens dunks, capped off by a Tony Carr free throw to send the advantage back into double figures.

"Again, that 'r' word, responding with adversity," Chambers said. "Some of these kids have never truly faced adversity. Adversity is losing that game in the last four minutes at Maryland. How are you going to respond? They responded great. They cut it to three, I saw positive body language. Maryland at four minutes, I didn't see positive body language when they tied it up. This was a 3-point game, a one possession game and I saw them play with a little chip on their shoulder and that's what we're going to need now for the rest of the season."

The Wildcats answered with two consecutive treys once again but the Nittany Lions wouldn't let Northwestern any closer than six- responding to each challenge to close out the win, improving to 2-2 in conference play.

"Responding to him, it's responding to all the adversity," Stevens said when asked about his head coaches' thoughts on the word. "I think we're really starting to take shape and I think it's a credit to our leaders, Josh [Reaves] and Shep [Garner], because they control the locker room, they really help the young guys, and we're young, so they help us too, so credit to them."

Stevens would hardly take any credit for his career performance, registering his first 30-point performance, shooting 14-for-19 from the field. 

Watkins also put on another consistent display with 18 points and 17 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season. Watkins stuffed his stat sheet with four blocks, shooting an impressive 5-for-6 from the field and 8-for-11 from the free throw line, also a career mark from the charity stripe.

@GOPSUSPORTS

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