Game Grades: Virginia Tech
Following a loss to Bradley in the Cancun Challenge, Penn State picked up a ranked win Tuesday night at home against the Virginia Tech Hokies. The Nittany Lions fed off their young backcourt along with another steady performance from Lamar Stevens to gain a victory in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
The Nittany Lions experienced a shaky offensive start to the game but soon got it in check due in part to the play of Myreon Jones off of the bench. The freshman had not scored more than four points in any of his previous five games to start the season but totaled 18 points against the Hokies.
Jones’ sharpshooting ability contributed to his scoring outburst. Jones shot 50 percent from 3-point land and made 7 of 11 total shots in the game. Fellow Freshman Rasir Bolton finished with eleven points also shooting 50 percent from 3-point range.
Senior center Mike Watkins returned to play after being suspended indefinitely to start the season. The former All-Big Ten Defense selection recorded just two points but snatched seven rebounds and two blocks. Watkins makes a clear impact on any game he is in and should look to continue to be a burden to opposing teams as the season moves forward.
One aspect of the game Penn State might need to focus a bit more on is turnovers. The Nittany Lions gave the ball away 16 times. Six of the 16 turnovers came from senior guard Josh Reaves. Penn State must reduce the number of turnovers they commit in the coming weeks.
Penn State tested the true offensive abilities of Virginia Tech Tuesday night by playing effective defense against playmakers such as Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Justin Robinson. The Nittany Lions held the Hokies to their lowest scoring total of the season at 62 points. In addition, Penn State allowed just four players on Virginia Tech to score.
The Hokies shot 44 percent from the field, which is also their worst on the season. Despite the fact that Penn State had 16 turnovers, Virginia Tech did not take care of the ball much better with 14 of them committed. While it created turnovers, Penn State managed to dwindle the fast break opportunities for Virginia Tech too only allowing the Hokies to score fast-break break points all game.
When it mattered most, the Nittany Lions defense stood its ground in the final five seconds of the game when it prevented Virginia Tech from scoring to take the lead. A missed 3-pointer from Justin Robinson resulted in a rebound by Virginia Tech’s Ahmed Hill, who missed a jumper off the side of the backboard with 4.8 seconds to go. The hold by the defense resulted in a win for the Nittany Lions.
Pat Chambers has always been capable of winning big games for the Nittany Lions. He beat Ohio State not once, not twice, but three times last season on the way to winning the NIT Championship. Chambers needed a win against a ranked team here after a disappointing loss to Bradley in Penn State’s last game.
Chambers did a great job spreading the floor and getting the ball to his hot shooters such as Jones. Second, Chambers made a game plan that limited the play of Virginia Tech’s leading scorer in Walker, who was held to just 13 points.
Lastly, the Nittany Lions held the Hokies to just 25 points in the second half after Chambers promoted physical and adequate defense. Chambers and Penn State aim to build off of this victory and improve their team as conference play begins this week.
Joseph Muscente is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.