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Penn State Focused on Details

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As Penn State men's basketball preps for its final two nonconference games of the 2016-17 season, Nittany Lion head coach Patrick Chambers met with members of the media in a midweek check in to preview the final few outings before conference play.

As exam week is winding down, Penn State men's basketball had a bit of an earlier exam schedule as Chambers noted that he suspected it might be a cause for the slow start in last weekend's near comeback against Pitt at the Prudential Center.

"I don't want to defend - I don't want to give these guys excuses but its exam week, it's the first time these young guys are going through it and we have our academic advisor with us, they're taking tests, they're doing papers the night before you play a team at 2:30 p.m.," Chambers said. "You know, I think they were overwhelmed a little bit and once they cleared their head and we got after it at halftime, they came out and played really good basketball."

With exams out of the way, Chambers noted that the focus in practice would return to habit forming, getting back to a foundation of team toughness, keying in on defense and rebounding.

"We could be really good, now, if we can put two halves together," Chambers said. 

The Nittany Lions have struggled at times to sustain momentum in a cohesive showing, most recently entering the locker room down 42-22 to the Panthers at the half before battling within five with less than two minutes to play.

For Chambers, the ability to compete for the entirety of both halves is exactly what he's looking for from his Nittany Lions through the last two nonconference games, but he'll need to see progress in defending and rebounding too.  

"If you play hard, it will clean up some of your weaknesses and then if you defend and rebound, that means you can get out and score some easy baskets," Chambers said. "Sometimes it can become a grind-out game and I never wanted this team to be grinding out anything, I want to get up and down the court and move the ball as quickly up the floor as possible but you can't do that if you don't defend and rebound and play hard." 

At 6-5 on the year heading in to Saturday's Holiday Festival against St. John's at Madison Square Garden, Chambers noted that he hasn't seen a bit of bad morale despite some early growing pains. 

"Morale is good," Chambers said." If the morale wasn't good, you don't come back and compete and cut it to nearly four with two minutes to go with the chance to get a good stop with the shot clock going down. Morale is good but we can't keep doing that to ourselves. It's been a common theme with this group and again, they're young, they don't realize that they have to play hard for every possession that they are on the court."

Penn State and St. John's will tipoff at 11 a.m. Sunday in the opening game of the Holiday Festival, with Rutgers and Fordham meeting in the later game. The Nittany Lion matchup with broadcast live on FS1.   

Chambers on Strength of Schedule
Penn State has certainly experienced the grind of a challenging nonconference slate, which opened fast and furious with no shortage of tough opponents both at home and on the road. That's exactly what Chambers had in mind when piecing together the schedule that will ultimately prepare his young Nittany Lions for a different kind of grind come December 27, when the Nittany Lions open the Big Ten conference slate against Northwestern at home in the Bryce Jordan Center.

"For us, our strength of schedule right now is 43," Chambers said. "I think we were 9-1 or 10-1 a couple of years ago and our strength of schedule was like 180 or something. So this is legit, this is real deal stuff. I learned my lesson a couple of years ago that if we're going for wins we're not going to be prepared for the Big Ten."

A Quick Look at St. John's
The Red Storm enters the matchup at 5-6 on the year, having most recently dropped a close 74-73 decision against LIU Brooklyn to put an end to a three-game winning streak. Making their 50th appearance in the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden, St. John's  has posted wins in each of its last six games in the event.

Chambers was quick to point out that he was keenly aware every member of the team on the floor is capable of connecting on a 3-pointer. St. John's is averaging nearly 10.5 triples per game, led by Shamorie Ponds, who has 35 on the year shooting nearly 45 percent from behind the arc. Averaging 17.4 points per game, Ponds is the seventh-highest scoring freshman nationally.

St. John's Kassoum Yakwe and Tariq Owens are among the nation's best shot blockers, pacing the Red Storm to a total of 82 blocks on the year which ranks second nationally and fourth with 7.5 blocks per game. Yakwe leads the team with 33 blocks on the year while Owens is second with 30.

In a matchup that features two of the youngest teams in the nation, Penn State and St. John's will meet for just the third time in program history and the first since the 2013 Barclays Center Classic in Brooklyn.

Watkins Powers Penn State Comeback Attempt

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NEWARK, N.J. - Penn State men's basketball nearly completed a sizable comeback Saturday afternoon at the Prudential Center, rallying from behind by more than 20 points before Pitt clipped the attempt short.

Postgame Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers called it a tale of two halves.

"I'm not sure where we were in the first half, maybe the bus was late, but we showed up in the second half and competed, Chambers said. "We competed like a Penn State basketball team and it was great to see."

The first half was perhaps the complete opposite of Penn State basketball, as the Nittany Lions entered the locker room trailing 42-22, with Shep Garner and Payton Banks the lone players with at least five points, led by eight from Banks.

The early part of the second half didn't look much better as back-to-back Pitt triples sent the Panthers ahead by as many as 24, 50-26 with 16:50 remaining.

Point-by-point the Nittany Lions chipped away at the Pittsburgh advantage, dialing up the tempo and finding ways to finish in the paint.

With less than five minutes remaining, a pair of free throws from freshman Tony Carr trimmed the once double figure deficit down to single digits at 67-58. A Josh Reaves steal on the ensuing Pittsburgh possession sent a driving Banks to line for another pair of free throw with Pitt redshirt senior Chris Jones picking up his fourth foul of the day for the Panthers.   

Helped out by a 3-pointer from Garner, Penn State stretched its scoring streak into a 10-5 run, slashing the Pittsburgh advantage to as few as five, 71-66 with 1:50 left to play.

Nearly 20 seconds later, Pittsburgh senior Sheldon Jeter delivered for the Panthers, netting the team's 10th 3-pointer of the day to give the Panthers an eight-point advantage, 74-66.

Penn State went 4-4 from the free throw line in the next 1:10 but the Panthers went 6-8 during the stretch to build their lead back to double figures, 80-79. A late 3-pointer from Banks narrowed the margin to seven, 80-73, but time expired before the Nittany Lions could sustain any more momentum.

"I give Pitt a lot of credit their seniors made the big plays when they had to, especially late in the second half," Chambers said.

Penn State more than doubled its rebounds in the second half, collecting 28 boards, while also putting up 16 second chance points to finish with 28 points in the paint compared to six points in the paint in the opening half.

"Our energy changed in the second half," redshirt freshman Mike Watkins said. "We came out and we changed our energy, so we came out not worrying about the first half and just worrying about every possession."

Watkins made all the difference for the Nittany Lions in the second half, helping to engineer the comeback attempt with 13 points and 13 rebounds to finish the game with a team-high 17 points and 15 boards. With his second double-double of the season, Watkins' 15-rebound performance marks the first time a Nittany Lion has recorded 15 or more rebounds since Geary Claxton in 2006 against Purdue.

Carr also heated up in the second half, logging 12 points including a 4-4 showing from the free throw line. Carr tied for second on the team with 13 points, as Banks went 4-8 from the field and 3-6 from behind the arc to match the tally.

That's just what Chambers said he needed to see from his Nittany Lions heading into exams week though, as the Nittany Lions will have a full seven days to prepare for the Madison Square Garden Holiday Hoops Festival, where Penn State will take on St. John's Sunday, Dec. 18 in New York.  

"It has been like that all year long, we've played a really good half and somehow we have to get consistency from everybody to compete like that on every possession," Chambers said. 

Calling it a breakthrough for his younger Nittany Lions, Chambers is ready to get to work in practice looking ahead to the future.  

"We're going to learn from it," Chambers said. "Our younger guys are going to learn from this and we're going to get better for sure."

Men's Hoops Gameday Live - vs. Pitt (12/10/16)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's basketball (6-4) is back in action, traveling to Newark, New Jersey to take on Pitt (7-2) in the Never Forget Tribute Classic. The Nittany Lions and the Panthers will tipoff at 2:30 p.m. from the Prudential Center with live TV coverage on CBS Sports Network.

Follow along with our live blog for in-game updates and notes all in one place as well as exclusive content live from Newark. 


Live Blog Men's Hoops Gameday 2016-17 vs. Pitt (12/10/16)
 

Nittany Lions Looking Toward Pitt

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As he does with every game, Nittany Lion head coach Patrick Chambers watched the tape of the Penn State's Wednesday evening loss to George Mason. Upon breaking down the film and taking some notes, he and the rest of the Nittany Lions were back at it early Thursday morning.

Beginning practice at 7:30 a.m. due to University Park exam schedules, Chambers brought his message back to attitude when addressing the team.

"I talked to them about attitude, I talked to them about how sometimes calls go against you, sometimes turnovers, missed rotations and missed shots - we just have to remember the word attitude, which is our foundation," Chambers said. "You're in control of your energy and your effort and just continue to play hard, that's what we talked about this morning."

All part of a season-long journey that had no promises of ease from the start, Chambers noted that he expressed no reason for panic. Rather, the Nittany Lions would simply regroup, and leading up to Saturday's Never Forget Tribute Classic matchup against Pitt, the focus would be rebounding. 

In Wednesday's loss to the Patriots, Penn State was out-rebounded 44-29, led by eight rebounds from freshman Lamar Stevens. Leading rebounder Mike Watkins had just four boards to finish second on the team, with no other Nittany Lion grabbing more than three boards. 

"It has got to become a habit right now, because you have young guys who are very talented and very gifted and they were never asked to do that during their high school careers because of their talent and how tall they are and their athleticism," Chambers said. 

More than defense and rebounding though, Chambers highlighted that the Nittany Lions were letting miscues and missed shots get in their way in Wednesday's loss. 

"Obviously we have to do a better job of cleaning up the glass, but I think you saw a team that was jogging back after a missed shot or a poor turnover and getting down on themselves and that's youth and inexperience," Chambers said. 

Heading into Saturday's outing, the Panthers have a narrow edge in rebounding against the Nittany Lions at 38.4-35.5 on the year. Pitt's Michael Young is atop the team standings with 7.9 rebounds per game, which ranks ninth in the ACC standings. He's also leading the league in scoring with 22.3 points per game.

Along with Young, fellow Panther seniors Jamel Artis, Sheldon Jeter and Chris Jones are currently responsible for nearly 70 percent of Pitt's scoring in their last five games.

"I'm only about a half a game in, but they're very big and they're a little bit older which is our Achilles heel right now," Chambers said Thursday. "They are long at a lot of different spots and we're going to have to play great team defense."

As a tough nonconference slate rolls on, the Nittany Lions will have to embrace the challenge and channel their mindsets to be both relentless in their rebounding pursuit and aggressive in driving the ball into the paint when the shots aren't falling. 

"This is a tough nonconference scheduled for a very youthful group," Chambers said. "So keep getting better, and we just have to get that consistency."

Although the Nittany Lion loss to George Mason snapped a four-game winning streak, Penn State was still out-scoring its opponents by an average of 12 points per game and holding them to 35.6 percent shooting.

Including the loss to the Patriots, Penn State has had at least three in double figures in each of the last five games, including a 21-point performance against George Mason from junior Payton Banks, who also matched a career-high mark with five triples.

"We have to get a little bit tougher and we have to rebound the basketball," Chambers said. "I look forward to us recovering and bouncing back." 

Pittsburgh has won four of its last five headed into Saturday, having most recently bounced back from a 64-55 loss to Duquesne with a win against Buffalo Wednesday night. Although the Panthers went up by as many as 26 early on, Pitt held on to top the Bulls, 84-79. Young and Johnson led the way with 17 points each, marking the eight straight game Young has led the team in scoring. Pitt also won its ACC/Big Ten Challenge outing, taking down Maryland 73-59 on the road.

Penn State and Pittsburgh will tipoff in the inaugural Never Forget Tribute Classic Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in Newark, New Jersey at the Prudential Center with live TV coverage on CBS Sports Network.  Notre Dame and Villanova will meet in the earlier matchup of the event, which pairs with the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund to help support the education of children of the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

BLOG: Penn State Upended By George Mason

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "This can't happen again," Penn State's Payton Banks said to a quiet media room following an 85-66 loss to George Mason Wednesday evening at the Bryce Jordan Center.

The Nittany Lions looked primed for success early on, opening the game with a 10-5 run in less than five minutes. Sparked by a dunk from Mike Watkins just seven seconds in, Penn State saw its early scoring streak boosted by back-to-back triples from Tony Carr and Payton Banks.

As quickly as Penn State went up, George Mason responded, surging back to build the Patriot lead to as many as seven, 22-15 with 11:35 remaining as Carr picked up his second foul of the night.

The Nittany Lions regrouped though, as a triple from Garner sparked a 13-4 run, capped off by Banks' third triple of the night, which lifted Penn State ahead, 28-26. George Mason came storming right back, using a pair of buckets to pull ahead by two, 30-28.

It was a back-and-forth battle right down to the buzzer at the half, as the score tied for a sixth time before 3-pointers from Banks and Terrence Samuel followed up by a pair of free throws from Lamar Stevens sent Penn State into the locker room leading by just a point, 38-37.

Out of the break, Penn State followed a George Mason layup with a pair of free throws from Stevens to pull back ahead, 40-39 with 19:14 left to play. 

That's the last lead the Nittany Lions would hold for the rest of the night as the shots seemingly stopped falling and Patriots ran off with the lead, outscoring Penn State by 20 points to finish off an 85-66 win. 

"We have to learn from this and come back tomorrow and try to look better," Chambers said. "When you have a youthful team you have to do that to make sure they stay engaged and it has been a while since I've seen missing shots dictate our effort but they'll learn."

While the Nittany Lions struggled to put together a sustained offensive rhythm, the Patriots owned the advantage on the glass, outrebounding Penn State 44-29 and 27-17 in the second half.

"I think it wasn't so much rebounding," Banks said. "It was when they got the rebound what they did with it. They just kind of drove it down the lane every single time in transition, and we were just not ready for that type of pace and that's frustrating, because that's what we pride ourselves on. Being quick, fast, and being able to defend that."

Although disappointed with his defensive effort, Banks did pace the team offensively, registering his fourth career 20-point scoring outing with a team-high 21 points. In his second 20-point game of the season, Banks also logged a career-high five 3-pointers, heading into the half at 4-for-6 from the field. 

As a team, Penn State posted 10 triples, marking the second time this season the Nittany Lions have registered double digit 3-pointers. 

"We took good open threes," Chambers said. "I thought Shep [Garner] got some really good looks, Josh got some really good looks, Payton got some good looks - they didn't drop."

As the Nittany Lions now turn their focus toward Pittsburgh on Saturday at the Prudential Center, Chambers remains optimistic.

"I can give you a ton of coaching talk up here but the bottom line is you have to come out, play hard, play together and you can't let turnovers and missed shots affect you," Chambers said. "That's on us and you can correct it, which is why I am not freaking out because it is correctable. These are all fixable things we can get better at, that we can control. As long as we do that tomorrow, Friday and Saturday...I still like the direction we are headed in."

The Nittany Lions (6-4) and the Panthers (7-4) are set for a neutral site meeting at 2:30 p.m. in the Never Forget Tribute Classic Saturday. Pittsburgh took down Buffalo 84-79 this evening to capture their fifth consecutive win at home.

Men's Hoops Gameday Live - vs. George Mason (12/7/16)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After just three days off, Penn State men's basketball is set to return to the court, hosting George Mason Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. in the Bryce Jordan Center. The Nittany Lions will look to extend a four-game winning streak coming off of a dominant win against Wright State last weekend. 

Follow along with our live blog for in-game updates and exclusive content. 


Live Blog Men's Hoops Gameday vs. George Mason (12/7/16)
 

Watkins Steps Up as Penn State Preps for Patriots

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After just three days off, Penn State men's basketball is set to return to the court, hosting George Mason Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. in the Bryce Jordan Center.

Monday afternoon, head coach Patrick Chambers met with members of the media to preview the matchup, while also wrapping up Saturday's win against Wright State.

Among positives from veteran leaders and newcomers, Chambers made a quick note regarding contributions from Mike Watkins, especially surrounding his surging shot blocking ability.

Entering the week, Penn State is ranked fourth nationally and first in the conference with 57 blocks, with Watkins accounting for 33 of the team's total. With at least two blocks in every game this season, Watkins logged a career-high eight blocks in the win against Wright State. The sixth-highest total in single game in program history, Watkins' eight blocks are the most since Calvin Booth had nine in 1999.

"He's doing a really good job protecting the rim," Chambers said. "We're pressuring the ball a little bit more and he's doing a good job of waiting and waiting - and he gets off the floor really quick. He has great hands and I think that really helps him."

Individually, Watkins is ranked fourth nationally and atop the Big Ten standings with 3.67 blocks per game.

Watkins' timelessness has made all the difference, giving those around him an added confidence boost.

"You might miss an assignment or get blown by but you know Mike is behind you covering the basket," Tony Carr said.

Not surprised by his impressive total this year, Carr can recall some uneasiness heading into high school matchups against Watkins. 

"Even back in high school I used to hate playing against Mike just knowing that he's a great shot blocker and that always messes with the guard," Carr said. 

On the other side of things, Chambers noted that turnovers have become a point of emphasis for the Nittany Lions.

"Live ball turnovers are a killer right now and offensive rebounding, we've got to do a better job," Chambers said. "Even though there's dead ball rebounding, I still feel like we're giving them another possession that we can't afford."

In the early part of a season where the framework surrounds a more up-tempo pace offensively, the key to limiting turnovers simply involves keeping true to simple, solid and efficient play, not trying to make everything on the highlight reel as Chambers puts it. 

It's all part of the growing process for the Nittany Lions though, as they prepare to play their 10th game in nearly a month on a 4-0 winning streak for the first time since the early part of last year's nonconference slate (Nov. 24-Dec. 5). 

"This is such an amazing process," Chambers said. "Where we started that first game on a Friday to where we are now. It has flown by, but we've definitely gotten better."

Quick Look at the Patriots
Both Penn State and George Mason will put a pair of winning streaks on the line Wednesday. The Nittany Lions have won their last four straight, while the Patriots have each of their last five, most recently taking down Mercer, 79-68 at home.

Three reached double digits for the Patriots in the win against Mercer led by 21 points from leading scorer Marquise Moore, who's averaging 17.3 points per game. Moore added 12 rebounds for his fifth double-double through 10 games. Otis Livingston II finished second on the team with 17 points, including a 4-for-4 showing from the free throw line. Livingston II boasts a .958 clip from the charity stripe, at 23-for-24 on the year, which ranks seventh nationally.

Looking Ahead
Following Wednesday's game, Penn State will hit the road, traveling to Newark, New Jersey to take on Pittsburgh in the inaugural Never Forget Tribute Classic Saturday, Dec. 10 at the Prudential Center. The double header event will feature Notre Dame and 2016 NCAA national champion Villanova in the first matchup of the day. The Nittany Lions and the Panthers will meet for the 146th time in program history in the first outing between the two teams since 2013. Pitt is out to a 6-2 start this season, set to host Buffalo Wednesday, Dec. 7.

On The Quote Board
Carr said that a major adjustment in his transition from high school to Penn State has been the addition of strength training, noting that he wasn't really one for weight training in high school. When asked to compare the strength training of Roman Catholic teammate Lamar Stevens, Carr was all smiles.
 

"To be honest I don't know how his body got like that," Carr said. "I feel like he just woke up one day and he just looked like the Hulk or somebody, he definitely touched more weights than me in high school."

More from Carr below.

Reaves' Triple Propels Lions to Victory

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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."

Men's Hoops Gameday Live - vs. Georgia Tech (11/29/16)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's basketball is back in action returning to the Bryce Jordan Center to square off against Georgia Tech in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Nittany Lions will don their black and pink throwback uniforms for the ESPNU matchup which tips at 7 p.m. 

Follow along with our live blog for all your in-game updates in one place and exclusive content.
Live Blog Men's Hoops Gameday 2016-17 vs. Georgia Tech
 

Veterans Guide Penn State Past Colgate

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
Earlier this week, Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers noted that he expected more veteran leaders to emerge for the Nittany Lions as the season continues, calling upon both Terrence Samuel and Payton Banks, in the wake of a few standout performances from Shep Garner.

Wednesday against Colgate, it was Banks and Garner who came out to set the tone early for the Nittany Lions, scoring all nine of the team's points in the first six minutes of the game off of 3-pointers. Banks went 2-for-2 during the opening stretch with back-to-back triples. 

Penn State struggled to build on the advantage though, as Colgate took advantage of the stalling offense to go up by as many as six, 21-15, with 5:26 remaining in the first half.

Regrouping, it was freshman Tony Carr who provided the spark with a layup followed by the and-1 to kick off a 15-2 run that sent the Nittany Lions into the locker room with a seven-point lead, 30-23, at halftime. Banks added his fourth triple of the half down the stretch to match a career-high mark.

By the second half, junior Terrence Samuel emerged, as the UConn transfer came off the bench with six of the team's 14 points in the early part of the frame, as Penn State grew its lead to double figures, 44-33. 

Colgate managed to trim the gap to four twice more, but Carr and Garner continued to shift the momentum with a pair timely treys. With the Nittany Lions leading by five, 56-51 with 5:23 remaining, another 3-pointer from Garner followed by a bucket from Samuel pushed Penn State back into double digits, 61-51, as the Nittany Lions did not let the lead dip below nine for the remainder of the game.

Banks, Samuel, Carr and Garner all finished with double figures, led by Banks' second career 20-point outing. Banks shot 6-for-12 from the field while also shooting 4-for-9 from behind the arc. Samuel scored all 16 of his career-high points in the second half, while also grabbing five rebounds. 

For Chambers, it was the confident performances from both Banks and Samuel that made all the difference in spelling the relatively quiet offensive output from the freshmen class as a whole.

"That is huge for us when the freshmen are playing like freshmen," Chambers said. "So you are able to go to some veteran guys, two redshirt juniors that you trust. Payton has been in the program four years and Terrence is still new to it, but he has been on the big stage. The freshmen need to rely on those guys."

All together, starters Banks, Carr and Garner finished with 44 of the team's 72 points, but add in Samuel and that's nearly 85 percent of the total scoring.

The four also accounted for 10 of Penn State's season-high 11 triples, which are the most since the Nittany Lions had 11 in a 56-55 win against Nebraska last year. 

HE'S BACK
Sophomore Josh Reaves came off the bench for the Nittany Lions after missing five games due to an injury. With give points, four rebounds and steal, Reaves' presence was maximized by the energy he brought to the court - which didn't go unnoticed by his teammates and Chambers.

"That just shows you the leadership he has and the energy he came off the bench with," Banks said. "I feel like that really sparked us. I feel like we came out a little dull and when he came in the game it was automatic life. That is what we need from him."

WHAT'S NEXT?
Penn State hits the road next, traveling to Washington D.C. to square off against George Washington Saturday, Nov. 26 at 4 p.m. in the Smith Center. The Colonials are 3-2 on the year, coming off of back-to-back losses against Georgia and UAB earlier this week in the CBE Classic.

Check out more from Banks and Samuel postgame below.

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