Jalen Pickett’s historic day lifts Nittany Lions over Butler

Story posted November 15, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Grant Sheets

From shattering the program three-point record to Drexel transfer Camren Wynter’s entrance into the 1500/500/500 club, Penn State’s first two outings of the season were nothing short of unforgettable.

In Monday’s 68-62 victory over Butler, yet another Nittany Lion got the opportunity to etch his name in history.

With a 2-for-10 shooting mark going into the second half with a seven-point lead, it seemed as if senior guard Jalen Pickett was in for another surprisingly cold night from the field; that was, until assistant coach Mike Green helped jump-start the blue and white’s leading scorer.

“He pulled me aside and told me what I needed to do better,” Pickett said. “He instilled that confidence in me.”

Green was seen coaching up his star point guard on several occasions; whatever he advised Pickett to do seemingly panned out, as the former MAAC Player of the Year blazed his way into the record books during the final 20 minutes of action.

With a final statline of 15 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, a red-hot Pickett became just the second Nittany Lion ever to record a triple-double, and the first to do so in the 21st century.

Pickett has some pretty incredible company on that short list, joining the legendary Calvin Booth, who recorded the first triple-double in Penn State history back in March of 1998.

“It’s a great accomplishment, for sure,” Pickett said. “But I’m just more happy with the win, of course.”

In a contest full of exchanged blows and scoring runs, Butler gave the Nittany Lions a run for their money until the very last buzzer sounded off at the Bryce Jordan Center.

After a game-defining 17-2 run to increase the lead to 16 with 5:11 remaining in the second half, the Nittany Lions seemed to be entering cruise control. Butler had other plans, responding with an offensive explosion of its own.

A 13-2 Butler scoring run cut the deficit to just five points with less than a minute to go, but all comeback efforts were silenced after a Seth Lundy dunk and a pair of insurance free throws from Wynter sealed the deal.

“It got a little close there at the end,” Pickett said with a smirk across his face. “It was a great test for us.”

Butler provided the first true challenge for a red-hot Penn State team, especially looking at the potential paint mismatch that the Bulldogs presented.

Heading into the contest, many were curious to see how Penn State’s limited room of big men would deal with 6-foot-11 center Manny Bates, specifically on the defensive end and in the rebound game.

With the help of a guard who isn’t afraid to jump with the giants in order to give his team more offensive opportunities, the Nittany Lions successfully out-rebounded Butler 40-36, and even held an edge in paint points by a margin of six.

“If I can grab as many rebounds as I can to make the offense go faster, I think that will help us wear teams down,” Pickett said.

This selfless, gritty approach from Pickett  helped the Nittany Lions advance to their first 3-0 start since the 2019-2020 season, all while making some individual history in the process.

Grant Sheets is a sophomore majoring in public relations. To contact him, please email gcs5231@psu.edu.