|Follow PSU Men's Basketball:||Follow @PennStateMBB|
November 20, 2017
BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- The Penn State men's basketball team took a double-digit lead less than four minutes into its game against Pittsburgh in its Legends Classic game at Barclays Center Monday night and never looked back en route to an 85-54 victory. The Nittany Lions are 5-0 on the season and will face Texas A&M in the Legends Classic championship game Tuesday at 6 p.m. Tickets are available for the game at ticketmaster.com. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
Sophomore guard Tony Carr set the tone, leading six Nittany Lions in double-figure scoring with 16 points from a perfect 4-4 from beyond the arc. Penn State shot 52.9 percent in the first half (18-34) and only got better in the second period at 64 percent (16-25).
The Nittany Lions also held the advantage on the boards 42-32 and had only one turnover in the first half while forcing eight Panther miscues in the first 20 minutes and 14 for the game.
"I'm proud of my team," said coach Patrick Chambers. "We were really dialed in and focused. Our approach was win every possession. Every possession matters and I'm really happy for those players, because I'm sure they remember last year we competed in the second half, not the first half. I'm happy for the program and the staff; they've worked really hard to get to this point where we are 5-0."
Not only was nearly every shot falling for Penn State early on, but the Nittany Lions had hot hands for the rest of the half with 61 percent shooting after the first eight minutes. Defensively, Penn State kept the Panthers at sub-30 percent shooting for the first 12 minutes of the game, including a 1-11 start.
The Nittany Lions scored their most points in a first half so far this season with 47, while Pittsburgh had the lowest total for a Penn State opponent in a half with 21 in part coming on a 15-1 run over the final 5:30 of the period. That stretch included dunks by Mike Watkins and Reaves and two of Carr's four triples. Overall, the 57.6 percent shooting from the field was the highest for Penn State this season with season-best numbers in three-point field goals (9) and turnovers (11).
Carr hit four three-pointers, a career best for the sophomore, and had six rebounds, five assists and a steal. Sophomore forward Lamar Stevens collected a team-best eight rebounds and had 10 points along with Josh Reaves and Nazeer Bostick. Both Mike Watkins and Shep Garner had 13 points each. Bostick set career marks in assists (4) and steals (4) as well.
"I think it was just our focus coming into the game," said Tony Carr when asked about the Lions' sharp shooting. "We were pretty amped up to play today. We had a great walk-through earlier, we had great focus, we got shots up as you guys can see. I just think it was our approach, and we were just nicely prepared for this game and that showed the first four minutes."
Panther junior Jared Wilson-Frame had 17 points and Ryan Luther had nine rebounds to lead Pittsburgh.
For the Nittany Lions, the 5-0 start is the first since the 2008-09 season and only the third 5-0 mark in 18 years. Penn State defeated Pittsburgh for the first time in eight meetings, last winning 88-74 on December 6, 2000, with the 85 points in Monday's win the most since that contest. Penn State's 31-point margin of victory over Pittsburgh is the largest in the series since an 84-44 win in 1967.
Keep up to date with the latest information from Coach Patrick Chambers and the Nittany Lions on Twitter by following @Coach_Chambers and @PennStateMBB, liking the team's page on Facebook and following the team Instagram account at @PennStateMBB.
Keep up to date with the latest information from Coach Chambers and the Nittany Lions on Twitter by following @Coach_Chambers and @PennStateMBB, on Facebook and Instagram at @PennStateMBB.