Penn State Falls Late to Ole Miss

Story posted December 6, 2011 in Sports, CommRadio by Dan Smith

A late second half run by Mississippi (7-1, 0-0 SEC) secured a comeback victory as the Rebels defeated Penn State (6-3, 0-0 Big Ten) 72-70 Sunday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Ole Miss came into the game known for their ability to drive to the basket, but not as a perimeter team. Despite this trend, the Rebels shot brilliantly from beyond the arc, to the amazement of even their own head coach.

“Tonight was the best we’ve shot all year,” said Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy. “It was an aberration. We have not shot the ball well.”

The team was led by freshman guard Jarvus Summers, who hit big shots throughout the game, especially from beyond the arc. Summers finished with 27 points, shooting an impressive 4-5 on three-pointers.

“Jarvus Summers was tremendous,” Kennedy said. “He’s only had a couple of starts, but he played great and hit a big one down the stretch.”

Summers was aided by forward Murphy Holloway, who controlled the lane while adding 10 points, 11 rebounds and five steals. Guard Nick Williams chipped in with 10 points and five assists.

Kennedy was quick to credit Penn State with giving his team a tough game.

“I give Pat’s team credit, that was all being tenacious,” he said. “We were getting outrebounded and had to come up with some big rebounds to escape.”

The Nittany Lions led by as many as eight in the second half, and held a five point lead with less than four minutes to play. The Rebels roared back and took a two point lead with 35 seconds remaining. After an Ole Miss timeout, Penn State guard Tim Frazier was entrusted with finding a shot, but badly missed a three point attempt with 21 seconds left.

“You’ve got to put the ball in his hands and tell him to go make a decision,” said Penn State head coach Pat Chambers. “He’s the best player. He’s got to learn how to make a play at the end of a game.”

The final minutes of the game marred what had been up to that point an encouraging performance by Chambers’ team. Frazier led the way for Penn State, scoring 17 points and earning nine assists and six rebounds.  Guard Jermaine Marshall got his first career start, scoring 10 points in 30 minutes.

Penn State’s bench, which included Borovnjak, contributed 25 points, outscoring the Mississippi bench by 11 points. Forward Sasa Borovnjak, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, played well off the bench in place of a sick Jon Graham, scoring a career high 15 points without missing a shot.

“I feel like the game slowed down for him tonight,” Chambers said. “He played at his pace.”

Borovnjak will be called upon to continue contributing, with Graham out at least two weeks with mononucleosis. Borovnjak said he understands his place at the moment.

“We work hard every day,” Borovnjak said. “Jon Graham got sick and I had to step up and play more minutes.”

The emphasis for Chambers this season has been defense and rebounding. While the Nittany Lions outrebounded Ole Miss 34-30, they only had two steals and one block in the game, and gave up a few too many points for Chambers’ liking.

“We have to defend and rebound, and 72 points is too much,” Chambers said. “We have to keep them in the low 60s to win.”

While he noted his team’s strengths in challenging the Rebels, Chambers said the team will not be satisfied with simply competing with opponents.

“I think we surprised them with how hard we played and how physical we are,” Chambers said. “But there are no moral victories. We have to execute better down the stretch, it’s that simple.”

Moving forward, Chambers’ players emphasized the need to use the game as a learning experience.

“We have to get better each day and learn from our mistakes,” Frazier said. “We watch film and focus on things we need to do to get better.”

Penn State plays host to Lafayette Wednesday at the Bryce Jordan Center at 7 p.m. Tune into ComRadio for complete coverage, beginning with the Basketball Pregame Show at 6:30 p.m.

Dan Smith is a junior majoring in Broadcast Journalism and is ComRadio’s Executive Editor. To contact him, email des5249@psu.edu.