Claxton's Fifth Double-double Leads Penn State Past Cold Shooting Princeton, 61-38
Dec. 12, 2007
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA., DEC. 12, 2007 - Behind 21 points and 10 rebounds from senior Geary Claxton (West Haven, Conn.) Penn State defeated a frigid Princeton team, 61-38, Wednesday in the Bryce Jordan Center.
The win improved Penn State to 5-0 on the year at home and 5-4 on the season while the Tigers fell to 2-7.
Penn State used a half court man-to-man and 1-2-1-1 full-court press to limit a Princeton team that began the game shooting 1-9 from the field and 0-6 from three and never really warmed up. The Tigers managed just 11 first half points, the lowest for a Penn State opponent since Juniata posted 11 in the opening game of 1989, and shot just 5-of-25 (20%) from the floor in the first 20 minutes.
The Tigers finished the game shooting 31 percent (16-51) overall and just 4-of-25 from three. Their 38-point total was the lowest by a Penn State opponent since holding Southwest Texas State to 37 in 1989.
"Overall, I thought we did not give them many back-door lay ups, which was good," Penn State coach Ed DeChellis said. "For the first time playing against (the Princeton offense), I was pleasantly surprised.
Claxton posted his fifth double-double of the season and seventh 20-point game while adding a career high tying five assists.
"I thought he played really under control and really mature basketball," DeChellis said of Claxton. "He had five assists and rebounded the ball extremely well. I thought he was very solid. I thought the last two games, his shot selection has been very good, letting things come and not trying to force the issue."
Jamelle Cornley (Columbus, Ohio) added 10 points for Penn State, which shot 47 percent from the field for the third time in the last four games. The Nittany Lions were a sizzling 61 percent from the floor in the second half going 15-of-17 from inside the arc as they worked the ball inside the zone. Zack Finley led Princeton with 14 points on 7-of-12 shooting mostly on pretty hook shots in the paint. Lincoln Gunn chipped in 13.
"We had 15 out of 17 I think inside in the second half - that is a pretty good offense," DeChellis said. "We talked about scoring off the glass as a way to score. We got the ball inside in the second half. We tried to do that the first half and were not as successful as we wanted to be. The second half, we got the ball in the high post a little more and in the paint area and were able to convert."
Both teams struggled from the field early as Princeton slowed the game with a deliberate offense and held the Lions in check with a 2-3 zone. Penn State shot 11-of-31 (35.5%) from the field in the first half.
The Lions jumped out to an early 7-2 lead following a three by Danny Morrissey (Cleveland, Ohio). A Lincoln Gunn three tied the game at 9-9 with 10:35 to play in the half. Claxton came out of the timeout with a dunk that triggered a 14-0 Penn State run. Princeton went scoreless over the next 10 minutes missing their next nine field goal attempts and turning the ball over seven times.
Penn State extended its lead to 23-9 over the span despite a pair of two-minute scoring droughts of its own. Nick Lake finally ended Princeton's scoring drought with a lay-up with 36 seconds remaining in the half. Mike Walker hit a three with the three seconds to play to give the Lions a 26-11 halftime lead.
Claxton gave Penn State its first points of the second half with a three from the corner. Cornley hit a jumper to cap a 7-0 run to start the half and put Penn State up 33-13. A Claxton dunk followed by an Andrew Jones (Philadelphia, Pa.) jumper gave Penn State a 37-18 lead. Jones scored six points in the first eight minutes of the second half.
Penn State pushed its lead to as many as 28, 59-31, with 3:41 to play following a 10-0 run and a four-minute Princeton scoring drought. Claxton and freshman Jeff Brooks (Louisville, Ky.) both had four points in the run.
"It builds our confidence," Claxton said of the 23-point win. "This is no easy team. Anybody can be beat. We were ready to play and we knew what we were coming into. I think everyone did a good job tonight. It was a good team effort."
Penn State will get another look at the Princeton offense on Saturday when they take on Denver in the Bryce Jordan Center at 1:00 p.m. The Pioneers are coached by former Princeton head coach and player Joe Scott.