BLOG: Johnson Sparks Nittany Lions in Debut
Dec. 22, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Having been forced to wait 632 days since his last regular season outing on March 30, 2012, John Johnson was hungry to make in impact for the Nittany Lions on Sunday.
Since he arrived on the Penn State campus, head coach Patrick Chambers said time and time again that Johnson had the tools to be a dynamic offensive player off the bench for the Lions.
Johnson impressed in his Nittany Lion debut on Sunday, scoring 20 points on a tidy 8-for-11 shooting performance. The Philly native did a little bit of everything on offense in his first outing. Johnson scored off the dribble, on fastbreak plays, nailed two 3-pointers and sank both of his free throws.
"It just felt good to be back out on the court after sitting out almost a year and a half," Johnson said.
Chambers has said that Johnson has a little bit of Vinnie "The Microwave" Johnson, longtime Detroit Pistons sixth man, in him. The Lion guard creates another difficult matchup for opponents to defend. He is a tough guard on offense because of his quickness off the dribble and ability to score from just about anywhere on the floor when he is on.
"I expected double-figures. He's been doing it for a year...It wasn't just his offense," Chambers said. "I thought he did some good things defensively and helped us get some steals."
"I think John did a great job providing a spark off the bench," junior guard D.J. Newbill said. "That's exactly what we need him to do."
Johnson was key for the Nittany Lions in the final 20 minutes when they rallied from nine down at the halftime break to surge past Mount St. Mary's, 92-82, for their ninth non-conference win of the season. Johnson scored eight points in a span of 1:31 to help knot the game at 65-65 with 12:14 to play.
He scored 15 of his team-high 20 points in just 14 minutes of action in the second half.
"I don't really go into a game expecting to play good or bad in a game," Johnson said. "My teammates were looking for me, and I was able to knock down some shots."
Johnson led five Nittany Lion players in double-figures. Newbill added 18 tallies, while Tim Frazier had 15, Ross Travis had 14 and Brandon Taylor had 10. The Nittany Lions shot 59 percent from the field in the second. And despite The Mount converting 12 3-pointers to just two from the Lions, Chambers was pleased with the final 10-point outcome on Sunday.
Collectively, the Nittany Lions made the plays they needed to down the stretch to finish off Sunday's victory. It could not have come at a better time with the Mount St. Mary's game being the final game of the non-conference slate, in addition to it coming after long layoff following a tough loss to Princeton.
"I'm glad we got this win before Big Ten play starts," Chambers said.
Penn State's second season begins on New Year's Eve when Michigan State travels to the BJC for the conference opener at 5 p.m. The Nittany Lions will be off during the holiday week until practice resumes on Thursday.