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Penn State Strikes From 3 to Top Binghamton

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's basketball used a balanced scoring effort to top Binghamton in an 80-65 nonconference win Tuesday evening at the Bryce Jordan Center.

The final score doesn't quite tell the whole story though, as Nittany Lion head coach Patrick Chambers noted he's proud of Penn State's second half effort.

Although the Nittany Lions shot out to a 10-2 lead early, Chambers knew Penn State wouldn't be able to sustain the momentum. As the Bearcats battled back to tie the score and momentarily jump ahead by three on the strength of a Tyler Stewart triple, 19-16, Penn State opted to regroup.

Moments later, Tony Carr connected on a 3-pointer to even the score before a Lamar Stevens dunk sent Penn State back on top. Although Penn State held on for a 39-36 lead at halftime, Chambers remained confident the Nittany Lions would find their footing.

Less than a minute into the second half, Shep Garner ignited a 9-5 scoring streak with a pair of triples that pushed the Nittany Lion advantage to double figures, 53-41 with 15:17 left to play. 

Binghamton wouldn't go quietly, narrowing the gap to eight with 5:20 remaining. Penn State continued to look toward its success from the 3-point line as Reaves and Garner connected on three consecutive treys to bolster the advantage back to as many as 15 with fewer than three minutes left in the game. 

On the night, Penn State shot 59 percent from behind the arc, marking its best outing since shooting 52 percent in the win at Iowa.

All five Nittany Lion starters finished in double figures, with Stevens leading the way with 16 points. Much to the pleasure of Chambers, the Nittany Lions dished out 17 assists, marking the most in a nonconference game this season, led by a career-high tying nine helpers from Carr. 

Perhaps more difficult than digging deep for the win against Binghamton or what's to come against Rider though, is maintaining focus.

"I'm proud of our guys for the second half," Chambers said. I didn't think we played as well, again, Binghamton give them credit, but we were finding ways. This is such a difficult time for our kids, our players, because you have Christmas, you want to go home, nobody's here, there's so many distractions on the outside with the holidays."

Reaves, who finished with 15 points, four assists and two steals, only echoed what Chambers said about the unique time of year. 

"It's difficult knowing that break is coming up and people are trying to go home for the holidays and finals are over and people are just so relieved of the stress and everything, so, I feel that it's time to lock in more," Reaves said. "I try to tell my teammates, I know that we're off of school and we have a break but basketball is not over. We still have games to play, practices to do, treatments to go to so, it's definitely difficult."

For Chambers, the remedy to locking in, comes in mindset.

"We just have to stay present," Chambers said. "We have to keep these guys here, spend time with them because we can. Tomorrow, bring them back in, do some cold tubs and some lifting and some stretching and doing some film work, maybe shoot some free throws because we've been going for seven straight days and that's including exams and we looked a little sluggish in the first half. We found a way to win but we have to be smart about these next couple of days and try to keep these guys on task."

That means relying on leadership too, with Chambers pointing to Garner, who made five 3-pointers for the first time since mid-November, with at least four in five of 13 games this year.

"He made big shots but I want him to lead too," Chambers said. "I'm looking for him to really emerge and not let us miss a step here, not let us stub our toe, to continue the process of getting better. Those are the shots that we've seen him make in the past and he'll continue to make them for us."

After a seven-day grind that included a dominant road win at George Mason, Chambers noted there will be a bit of time away from the court, as he'll host the team for a Christmas party at his house tomorrow evening.

It's back to work Thursday though, with practice scheduled before Friday's gameday routine. Penn State and Rider is set to tip at 7 p.m. from the Bryce Jordan Center, with live coverage on BTN. 

Watkins' Consistency Key in GW Win

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's basketball wrapped up the week with a dominant 74-54 win against George Washington to head into finals week on high note.

The Nittany Lions shot out to a hot start and never looked back, in control from start to finish.

For Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers, it was Josh Reaves who set the tone, pushing the lead to nearly 20 with a steal and dunk in the first half to stretch the momentum in an already surging opening frame.

"Josh has a lot of energy, he's long, he can jump high," Shep Garner said. "He's a great person to have at the top of the press. He puts a lot of pressure on the guards and we get the steals out of it and he can finish it. We get dunks and layups and and-1's and that gets our team going. We knew that we were going to use that press a lot tonight and we were prepared."

Five Nittany Lions reached double figures for the fourth time this season as Penn State settled in off of Reaves' momentum for a balanced offensive outing.

Penn State shot 59 percent from the field in the first half as Garner sent the Nittany Lions into the locker room leading 48-19 with a 3-pointer in the final seconds. GW's 19 first half points marked the second time this season the Nittany Lions have held an opponent to less than 20 points in the first half, also tying a season-low mark.

The offensive outing was hardly the highlight for Chambers and the rest of the team, as the focus all week in practice was centered around getting back to the basics, defense and rebounding.

"We had a long week of practice," Garner said. "Our main focus was defending and rebounding. we really harped on it in practice and it really showed tonight. We were ready to defend. We held a good team to 19 points in the first half."

Penn State commanded a 25-7 advantage on the boards in the first half, including a 9-1 mark on the offensive glass. On the night, Penn State out-rebounded GW 42-25, marking Penn State's third-highest mark on the glass this year and the most since grabbing 43 against NC State.

Mike Watkins led the way for the Nittany Lions, with a game-high 12 rebounds to along with 15 points for his second double-double of the season.

Watkins' consistency has been nothing short of key for the Nittany Lions and a welcome addition to his game for both coaches and teammates.

"He was great all week," Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers said. "He has just really matured and been really consistent and that is what we need from Mike. We need Mike dialed in on everything, and they are starting to throw him the ball a little bit."

In the last three games, Watkins is averaging nearly 19 points per game, coming off a career-high 22-point outing against Wisconsin on Monday.

His consistency though starts in practice, as Watkins spent the week wearing a weighted vest, testing his limits along the way.

"He's been wearing that vest, he was trying to get ready for the game," Garner said. "He thought he was going to be super light today. He's been dominating. dominating practice, dominating the games. That's one thing I've been mentioning to him over and over. Dominate, every possession, just dominate. He's been doing it, he's making our life that much easier." 

The Nittany Lions will take a few days off to turn the focus toward academics with finals week quickly approaching.

"We need to finish strong academically," Chambers said. "That is extremely important to me and to our administration. We are going to take a couple of days off here so our guys can focus on their academics. We will do something late on Tuesday but will come full force on Wednesday. But it is really important to give some time away to focus on what they need to do."

Pregame Reading: Lions Focused on Mental Conditioning

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It's been a fast and furious start to the season for Penn State men's basketball. Coming off a stretch that featured six games in 14 days, including a pair of December Big Ten tests.

At 7-3 on the year, for Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers, it's the last three games that have given the Nittany Lions a look at exactly where they're at upon returning to the nonconference slate for the remainder of the month. 

"I treated NC State, Iowa and Wisconsin -  that's going to be our schedule in the Big Ten," Chambers said. "There's going to be very similar setups and we have to be mentally tougher to say, 'we have to compete the same way every single night, no matter if you're making, missing shots or turning the ball over.' We want to see a consistent effort." 

Consistency and mental toughness are at the forefront of the Nittany Lion focus this week as Chambers stressed a desire for just a little more postgame following a bitter 64-63 loss to Wisconsin - something he's seen a little too common in the three-game stretch.

"The last six minutes, you see that we still have more to give," Chambers said. "That's really what I'm going to talk to them about. The mental conditioning aspect of it where we have to know next possession, next play, missed shot, made shot, turnover, great assist, whatever. We still have to play at a certain level to be in the upper echelon of the Big Ten." 

While the mental conditioning aspect of the game might seem a bit more individual, Chambers noted there are many different situations he'll draw up in hopes of inspiring the next-level toughness.

"I'm always trying to challenge them and push their buttons a little bit to get them to get more out of them to see where we can get these team," Chambers said. "We see where we need to go now, I think it was a great litmus test for us." 

Among other areas, Chambers pointed to an increase in production from the bench. More than just stuffing stat sheets though, it's the bench's energy that's crucial to team success.

"It's the energy level, the juice and the fire that we need off of our bench," Chambers said. "I just don't want to drop off in intensity in what we're trying to do. Jamari [Wheeler] has been fantastic. He works so hard, the ball's going to fall for him and he's got to shoot. I already told him, you have to shoot the ball, you're open, you've been shooting beautifully."

Although limited against the Badgers, Wheeler was a key contributor off the bench against both Iowa and NC State, finishing with a career-high four assists to only one turnover against the Hawkeyes in his collegiate Big Ten debut.

"These practices are going to be critical for our young guys and guys coming off the bench," Chambers said. "Obviously GW is going to be a great test, they just beat Temple. We're going to have a great challenge."

George Washington heads to Happy Valley with momentum, having won its last three straight in an 8-day stretch. Among the streak, GW's Jair Bolden is averaging 18.3 points per game, alongside Yuta Watanabe, who's leading the way with 18.7 points per outing in the span.

Regardless of momentum though, for Chambers, the remainder of this week has been all about Penn State and of course, the details.

"We had a great opportunity and they didn't seize it and they understand that we have to do simple better and take care of the details," Chambers said. "I think offensively, we can cut harder, run harder, screen harder. Defensively, we can be in stances more, although our defense is still one of the top 20 defenses in the country, it can be better." 

Nittany Lions Resilient among Adversity

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GAME 10: Wisconsin

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It came down to the final seconds of play, but Penn State men's basketball couldn't complete its comeback attempt, falling short against Wisconsin in the Big Ten home opener.

For Nittany Lion head coach Patrick Chambers, Penn State did all could, climbing back from a nearly 20-point second-half deficit to arrive within one in the final seconds of regulation. 

"I'm proud of my guys competing to the end," Chambers said. "They put us in a position to be successful. I thought we executed our end of game stuff as good as you can. To come back from that deficit, we dug a little deeper because we looked a little sluggish in the first half."

Trailing 31-25 at halftime, Penn State struggled out of the locker room as the Badgers went up by as many as 17 points with 9:40 remaining.

Signature to a Chambers-led team though, the Nittany Lions weren't going to go quietly.

"We're a team that never gives up, no matter the deficit," Shep Garner said. "We're a team that never gives up and we always preach one possession at a time. We focus on the possession that we're on, whether it's offense or defense, we try to compete the best we can on each possession and try to get back in the game."

With fewer than nine minutes left in the game, Garner sparked a 23-9 scoring streak, bringing Penn State within three, 60-57, with a clutch triple forcing Wisconsin to call a timeout with 1:53 left to play.

"I thought we needed it at that time, I thought it was perfect for the time," Garner said. "I knew once we got going, once the crowd got into it a little bit, we would go on a run. I just knew I had to start something to get us going." 

A pair of Garner free throws out of the break drew the Nittany Lions within one, 60-59, as Penn State continued to trade foul shots with the Badgers. 

Trailing by one with 15 seconds on the clock, Penn State collected a board off a missed free throw attempt to send the ball the other direction, but a missed Tony Carr 3-point attempt clipped the comeback attempt.

"I thought we had the right matchup and Tony made that decision," Chambers said. "Whatever Tony thought. I am not in his vision, I am on the sideline. I don't know what he saw. But he is a heck of a player and he makes really good decisions, so I am going to trust that decision."

The Nittany Lions certainly won't spend time dwelling on the final possession or the outcome though.

"We're a team that sticks together through thick and thin and we didn't lose the game on that shot," Garner said. "It's a long game, a lot of mistakes from start to finish. We're confident in him [Carr] to make those shots. He didn't make it tonight, but we didn't lose the game on that play. He's fine."

While Chambers noted there's plenty to learn from, Penn State can also take pride in a few positives.

Mike Watkins led all scorers with a career-high 22 points for his second career 20-point outing. He grabbed eight blocks and totaled a Big Ten career-best seven blocks, helping to limit Wisconsin All-American Ethan Happ to a 3-for-12 outing from the field.

"Even though we kept him to nine points, the three assists he made were critical," Chambers said. "He's was in a little bit of foul trouble and again I thought Mike did a really good job on him, but it was our team for the most part that did a really good job on him."

Watkins was one of three Nittany Lions in double figures, alongside Carr (16) and Garner (13). Carr led the team on the boards, setting a Big Ten career mark with nine rebounds against the Badgers.

With Penn State's next Big Ten game scheduled nearly a month from now, the Nittany Lions will get back to work, spending the next three weeks wrapping up the nonconference slate.

"We are going to watch this film," Chambers said. "We are going to dive into Iowa a little bit more and we will have a good film session on Wednesday and try to get better. I didn't think we played our best basketball, and we still gave ourselves a chance to win. Let's give Wisconsin some credit though, but we still gave ourselves a chance. We had the ball, down one with 10 seconds and the ball was in our best player's hands. That is all we can ask for at that stage."

Pregame Reading: Penn State Then and Now

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State basketball is out to a 6-1 start on the year, coming off a dominant 86-48 win against Oral Roberts last weekend.

In a change in scheduling though, Big Ten play comes quicker than usual with the Nittany Lions traveling to NC State Wednesday night for a Big Ten-ACC Challenge matchup before heading to Iowa to open conference action Saturday in Iowa City.

Things hardly get easier for the Nittany Lions, with Wisconsin traveling to Happy Valley for a 7 p.m. outing Monday in the Bryce Jordan Center before resuming nonconference play for the remainder of December with four of five games at home.

Regardless of the schedule though, Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers is pleased with what he's seen so far, calling this year's Nittany Lions a confident bunch.

Through seven games last year, the Nittany Lions were 4-3 headed into last year's Big Ten-ACC Challenge meeting against Georgia Tech. A year later though, Penn State won its first five straight, including a dominant 85-54 win against Pittsburgh in the Legends Classic at the Barclays Center in New York before falling short in battle against then-No.16/19 Texas A&M.

"I think the way we competed against Pitt was great," Chambers said. "It shows all our hard work over the last seven years. To go out against A&M, I thought we all believed we were going to win the game."

Looking back from a statistical standpoint, Penn State was shooting 42 percent from the field, averaging 73 points per game and 34.4 rebounds per game.

This year?

Scoring at least 80 in all but two games this year, the Nittany Lions are averaging 82 points per game, shooting 48 percent from the field, averaging nearly 38 rebounds per game.

Individually, juice-man Josh Reaves was averaging less than four points per game with three steals. Through seven games this year, he's the third leading scorer on the team, averaging 11.8 points per game with a team-high 18 steals per game.

Penn State spent the earlier part of this week working on Penn State, or as Chambers noted, getting better at doing simple great. Spending some time to self scout over the weekend, his takeaways revealed the simplest of things as the Nittany Lions gear up for a pivotal stretch of the schedule before diving into the heart of Big Ten play.

"A block out on a free throw line situation, a rotation," Chambers said. "Sprinting back in convert defense, transition defense. Just communication. It always goes back to the simplest of things."

Among a more big picture look at what he's learned from his 6-1 Nittany Lions this year though, comes down to speed.

Alongside Reaves, true freshman Jamari Wheeler has brought serious quickness off the bench this year for the Nittany Lions. Coming off a career-high outing against Oral Roberts with 14 points, seven rebounds, five steals and four assists, he's a vital piece of making those around him better too.

"He loves to get after it and it doesn't matter who it is either," Chambers said. "I think that's why Tony's playing at such a high level because Jamari pushes Tony every day in practice. I think you're starting to see Tony reap the rewards of that because of it." 

Although he's a key piece for the Nittany Lions, Chambers is pleased with what the entire bench has contributed this year, including something a little more intangible, raising the level of competition in the gym.

"Jamari brings a competitiveness to practice that's unmatched," Chamber said. "He wants to win every drill, every possession and I think that filters through that scout team where, we're battling."

Looking at the Matchup
Penn State and NC State meet in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge for the first time since 2000, although the most recent meeting between the two teams came in mid-November 2012. At 5-2 on the year, NC State has lost its last two games, but highlighted the Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis with a 90-84 win against then-No. 2 Arizona last week.

With Penn State ranked fifth nationally in steals per game (11.0) led by Reaves and Wheeler, NC State also enters the matchup close behind, ranked 26th averaging 9.3 per game. Reaves' 3.0 steals per game is first in the Big Ten and eighth nationally while Markell Johnson is leading the Pack with 2.29 steals per outing.

Graduate transfer guard Allerik Freeman is leading the team with 15.9 points per game, while senior forward Abdul-Malik Abu is leading the way on the boards grabbing 6.7 rebounds per game.

Penn State Confident in Columbia Win

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GAME 4: Columbia

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The word respond has been perhaps a little too frequent for Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers this early in the season. Much to the contrast of last year though, the response from the Nittany Lions has been reason to be excited.

Friday evening, Penn State topped Columbia 79-65 inside the Bryce Jordan Center, having to do so without the help of two major contributors in Tony Carr and Josh Reaves. In its fourth game in the last eight days, conditions were prime for things to go awry. 

"With all the obstacles and challenges that we have faced in the last 48 hours, with injuries and illness and the way those kids came out and competed after the Montana game with a quick turn-around was just fun to watch," Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers said. "It was fun to be a part of."

To Chambers, Penn State has been rising to the call long before Friday's tipoff. Take the Montana game, where Carr departed mid-game with an injury. Montana came as close as three late in the second half, but the Nittany Lions regrouped to finish with a 70-57 win Wednesday night. 

Friday's circumstances grew even trickier as a freak-like injury sidelined both Carr and Reaves.


"Today we were like, `Tony is not going to play,' but did they respond," Chambers said. "Even when Josh went down I didn't see anybody poor-mouthing about it, heads down, no deflation at all. We came out and we competed, and they competed really hard that first eight to 10 minutes. Those to me are critical because that is what is going to shape us the rest of the season. That they have faith and confidence in the bench now and they are earning trust with me. So I have faith and confidence to put them in in critical times."

Freshman Jamari Wheeler sparked the Nittany Lion offense early off the bench, muscling his way inside before dishing to Nazeer Bostick for a one-handed slam, brining Penn State within one, 5-3.

Shep Garner opened up the scoring with his first triple of the night to give the Nittany Lions their first lead of the game, 7-5. Penn State quickly took off on a 15-0 run, holding Columbia scoreless for nearly seven minutes, building the advantage to as many as 14, 22-8, with 8:10 remaining in the first half.

As foul trouble plagued the Nittany Lions, Columbia came battling back, cutting the lead with a pair of triples, 27-17, to arrive within 10. A pair of free throws from Satchel Pierce brought the Nittany Lions back up by 12, 29-17, but Columbia was hardly finished, responding with an 18-9 run, including a 10-0 run in the final 2:22 to enter halftime trailing by only three, 38-35.

"We had a couple guys in foul trouble early in the first half, so we knew that we would get them back in the second half and we would turn it up a little in the second half, just because we knew we would play better defense and concentrate more on defense in the second half. We came out and played more confidently, applied more pressure, and let the chips fall where they may," Garner said.

Garner came out of the break in the second half with a pair of jumpers before a Lamar Stevens 3-ball widened the margin to nine, 49-40. With nearly 13 minutes remaining, it was Watkins who brought it home for the Nittany Lions, as Penn State ran away with the score on a 14-0 run.

"I thought our team did a really good job picking him up at halftime," Chambers said. "Our staff did as well. We were pumping him up and saying `let's go, you are rested, you are fresh, let's go dominate this second half,' and it's a maturity level. He has to keep getting better at it because it is going to happen again. He is going to pick up two and he is going to learn how to play with them."

Watkins scored 11 points and grabbed nine boards, blocking four shots in just the second half alone to pace the Nittany Lions to the win. Watkins also reached a milestone block with career block No. 100 coming midway through the second half. 

Leading the team effort though was Garner, who combined for a season-high 26 points, nailing five triples, alongside taking command of the court. 

"We have a lot of confidence in all of our players, so when someone goes down, we just talk about next man up," Stevens said. "Shep [Garner] being a leader, I knew he would have a big game, so I'm happy for him."

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.


"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. 

Carr Powers Penn State Past Campbell

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GAME 1: vs. Campbell

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers, the Nittany Lions are 1-0 following an 86-75 win against Campbell in the 2017-18 season opener.

"We had some unusual lineups out there, but for the most part, we're 1-0," Chambers said. "We're 1-0 and I'm going to take a lot of positives from it."

Among the positives, Chambers was most pleased with the defensive effort, noting the Nittany Lions were able to execute defensively for 30 minutes, needing just 10 more minutes in the future.

Although Campbell's Chris Clemons finished with 39 points, his shooting ability wasn't anything the Nittany Lions weren't prepared for.

"I knew it was going to be a hard game and I knew the way they played at the end of last year," Chambers said. "I knew all about Clemons. He reminds me a lot of Allen Iverson, just a guy that can score and get to the free throw line. I knew he would be able to try and keep his team in it."

While Penn State committed just three turnovers in the first half, it struggled to build its lead to more than five points for most of the opening frame.

With 5:24 remaining in the first half, Lamar Stevens drained his first 3-pointer of the game to spark some momentum. Less than two minutes later, Shep Garner connected on his first triple to give Penn State its then-largest lead of the opening half, 28-22. 

Campbell cut the advantage to four before Jamari Wheeler drove through traffic for layup to bring the Nittany Lions back up by six, 30-24, with fewer than four minutes in the first half.  

Building on the advantage, Julian Moore dropped in a pair of free throws to send Penn State ahead by as many as eight before a Tony Carr jumper sent the Nittany Lions into the locker room leading 36-28.

Penn State shot out to the second half and built on the advantage to as many as 17 points.

Campbell quickly responded with a 14-4 run, but Carr broke it up with a 3-pointer, before completing the and-1 to bring Penn State ahead, 67-5, with less than 5:30 remaining in the game.

"He made big buckets, and he made some great passes too that put us in position to be successful, which is great," Chambers said. "He showed some leadership. You could see he was disappointed they had made a run on us, and he wasn't going to let us lose this game. He was going to come out and compete, and he did that. He took it on his shoulders."

Campbell arrived no closer than five as Carr finished just shy of a triple double with a career-high 33 points in addition to nine rebounds and seven assists.

"I just try to make the best plays for my team, whether that's shooting or passing or diving on the floor, doing anything," Carr said. "I just try to do what my team needs of me, and at that point in time, it was just to score the basketball. I just wanted to have a scoring mindset down the stretch and lead us to the win." 

Penn State saw a few new faces on the court with true freshmen Jamari Wheeler and John Harrar both contributing.

"That's a freshman playing his 15 minutes," Chamber said reflecting on Wheeler's performance.  "He had some excellent finishes. I mean he went up that guy's chest, he walled up, and he still finished. That's what he's capable of doing. He took a really good opening three. Jamari definitely brings that spark off the bench, that toughness that we need. He's going to really bring pace to our team.

Penn State has a quick turnaround, returning to action Sunday against Fairleigh Dickinson at 5 p.m. in the Bryce Jordan Center.

Nittany Lions Set for 2017-18

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's basketball is less than two days out from its official regular season opener. Nittany Lion head coach Patrick Chambers met with members of the media Wednesday afternoon for the first time since media day to preview Saturday's 4 p.m. opener against Campbell.

For Chambers, the Nittany Lions are better connected as a team than they've ever been, with a pair of exhibitions providing an early look at how the increased chemistry has translated to the court.

In his seventh year at the helm of the program, Chambers noted the Nittany Lions are right where they should be, but the emphasis Friday will all come down to playing hard and competing.

Echoing what he said postgame following an exhibition win against Bloomsburg, the dress rehearsal is over, and the focus has shifted toward stringing together promising spurts to shape a cohesive 40 minutes of Penn State basketball, all beginning with the 122nd season of Nittany Lion hoops, which starts Friday at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Scheduling Notes
Chambers noted that the original plan was to open the 2017-18 campaign on the road, but one thing after another brought the Nittany Lions back to the Bryce Jordan Center for their opener, opting for a 4 p.m. tip time due to Lady Lion game at 7 p.m. in addition to Penn State's annual homecoming parade.

"I think it's going to be awesome, I'm hoping people get up here early," Chambers said. "Hoping there's going to be excitement on this campus - I know there will be, especially with homecoming and the game." 

The Nittany Lions kick start the season with four games across an eight-day stretch, but all four games are at home with Penn State also hosting Montana and Columbia in the University Park Regional of the Legends Classic, which wraps up at the Barclays Center in New York the following Monday and Tuesday. 

Following the opener, Penn State will also host Farleigh Dickinson at 5 p.m. Sunday.

By Design
The fast and furious start to the season is by design for Chambers, who said consistency is the top priority when it comes to challenges facing the Nittany Lions this year.

"We're the same team that beat Michigan State and we're the same team that beat Maryland and the same team that beat Minnesota, the same team that beat Georgia Tech," Chambers said. "We had some really great wins, but can we be consistent the next night? That's what I'm looking for."

Outside of the tight turnaround scheduling, there's also something called mental conditioning playing into the consistency, two words the Nittany Lions have been hearing and maybe even feeling, a lot from Chambers.

"They think practice is over and we'll do one more drill," Chambers said. "In practice, doing a shooting drill and it's got to be crisp and clean. I keep talking about mental conditioning, mental conditioning. The charity event came at a great time, to do that for hurricane relief was awesome and Lafayette did a wonderful job of welcoming us down there but it turned out to be mental conditioning for us too because we're able to play back-to-back."

A Great Day to be a Nittany Lion
Earlier today, Penn State announced new roster additions in Rasir Bolton and Myles Dread, who have both signed a National Letter of Intent during the early signing period.

Chambers couldn't be more thrilled with the early signees, noting both check all the boxes when it comes to a pair that checks all the boxes from winning experience to competitive drive.

"Myles can play one through four, he's that tough," Chambers said. "When we first started recruiting him, he was playing small forward - lost some weight, got in shape, changed his body. He was always a very good shooter, that was always the case." 

He also noted Bolton's shooting skills and high IQ as strengths

"He [Bolton] played for a really, really good AAU program in Team Loaded and he's playing down in Massanutten right now and they're playing at a really high level," Chambers said. "It's a different stage and he's got to go against the best. The one thing I've asked him to do is really work on being more vocal and leading, and he's done that. He's been the loudest guy in the gym, positive or negative."

A Quick Glance at Campbell
Campbell will also open its 2017-18 campaign Friday afternoon, coming off a 19-18 season that included an appearance in the Big South final and an appearance in the CIT quarterfinal round.

Led by fifth-year head coach Kevin McGeehan, the Camels return the core pieces from last year's team, including All-Big South guard Chris Clemons, who finished the year ranked second nationally with 25.1 points per game with a school-record 904 points last season. Clemons also recorded six 30-point games, scoring at least 29 on three other occasions last year.

"From what I'm hearing, he's averaging 40 in his exhibition and scrimmages," Chambers said. "I've watched some tape already on them and he's dynamic, he's like an Allen Iverson except probably a better outside shooter. He can really score the basketball."

Nittany Lions Looking Toward 2017-18

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Media members packed the Bryce Jordan Center green room Thursday afternoon as Penn State men's basketball hosted its annual media day. Officially kicking off the 2017-18 season, Nittany Lion head coach Patrick Chambers opened the event, before moving into the practice facility for one-on-one interviews with the team.

"I'm really looking forward to this season. I want to see the development of these players," Chambers said. "I feel like we've really bonded and come together as a group. The connection and the love in the locker room is very strong and powerful and I'm noticing that through preseason and now through practice."

For senior Shep Garner, the close bond that the Nittany Lions have created this year is something unique and different from any other team.

"With that being said, it makes you just ready for the season, we want to play," Garner said. "We can't wait to play against somebody else because it's more fun that way."

Penn State opens its 2017-18 campaign hosting Campbell Friday, Nov. 10 before wrapping up opening weekend at home with a matchup against Fairleigh Dickinson Sunday, Nov. 12 at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Garner's Last Lap
Garner also noted that this year marks the last lap, as he prepares to head into his final season with the Nittany Lions. When it comes to the legacy he wants to leave behind though, Garner's looking to go out on top.

"Just a guy who went out there and gave it his all, and a winner," Garner said. "I want to go out a winner. I want to leave Penn State in a better place than when I came into it."

Bostick Poised for a Breakout Year
Both Chambers and Garner noted that sophomore guard Nazeer Bostick has been impressive from the offseason into preseason, with great potential ahead of him in 2017-18. 

"He's one of the guys that might have a breakout year for us," Chambers said. "He got hurt, he was just starting to earn his minutes, playing critical minutes, especially in that Maryland game, he gave us some really good minutes late and I think he's going to be right there with Josh (Reaves) as those guys who are going to do it all for us and going to be stat sheet stuffers."

Sophomores Step Up
Chambers shared details on Penn State's leadership council, which includes Penn State sophomores Lamar Stevens and Tony Carr. For Chambers, with a year of crucial experience, he and the staff will look for sophomores to step forward into increased leadership roles this year.

"We're going to ask them to lead as sophomores and that's a great challenge, but we've worked on that all summer long," Chambers said. "We've had small group meetings, one-on-one meetings, discussing how to lead and sometime as coaches we're like, 'will you start leading?' But what does that really mean? We have to break it down on what leadership means and maybe share a story on how would you handle this, how would you handle that. It's definitely a process. It's not going to happen overnight, but they're so open-minded and willing that it's only going to bode well for them and our team."

Skills Academy Experience
Carr was selected as one of fewer than 21 players from across the country to attend the Nike Skills Academy this summer. Among a variety of diverse experiences, there were many takeaways he's look to carry over in the season, especially as it relates to leadership. 

"I took a whole lot from that experience," Carr said. "Just learning from all those NBA guys and coaches out there, and just playing against the best players in college right now. It was great on a day-to-day basis just competing and learning little tips here and there from those guys." 

Stevens' Offseason Approach
Returning as Penn State's second-highest scorer this year behind Carr, Stevens spent a significant amount of time this offseason working on his 3-point shot and shaping his body to prepare for the challenges that come with the Big Ten Conference schedule. 

"Mainly, I was just trying to get in shape," Stevens said. "I saw how much that can play into the game and there were times where if I was in better shape, I felt like I could have performed better last year so I wanted to make sure that wasn't going to happen this year. I really focused in on that over the summer, really worked on it and I feel like I was really successful." 


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