Survive and Advance: Nittany Lions Complete 15-Point Comeback over Nebraska
INDIANAPOLIS — One down, four to go. Penn State defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers 72-66 on Wednesday night in the first round of the 2021 Big Ten tournament, hosted by Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Things weren’t easy for the Nittany Lions, as this was the second straight game in which they needed a double-digit comeback to win. The Cornhuskers got hot early, firing on all cylinders from deep despite the absence of Teddy Allen, who declared his intent to transfer two weeks ago.
Thorir Thorbjarnarson hit three from deep in the first half while Kobe Webster and Trey McGowens kept the pressure on the Nittany Lions. The Cornhuskers chiseled a lead that was as large as 15 points, though it would end up being a 14-point lead at halftime.
Both Myreon Jones and Izaiah Brockington were quiet in the first half; neither recorded a single point. It was instead senior Jamari Wheeler who kept the team afloat offensively. Wheeler would finish the game with a career high 19 points to go with six rebounds. His previous career high came at the start of the season against VMI when he recorded 18 points.
Penn State head coach Jim Ferry spoke highly of Wheeler, who is playing in his final Big Ten tournament.
“He’s a warrior,” Ferry said. “He looked like he was going to will us to win this game today. He was all over the place, and when Jamari plays like that, we’re hard to stop."
Once the second half started, it was all Nittany Lions. They attacked early with the first two buckets coming from Jones and Brockington. The Cornhuskers wouldn’t make a shot until 16:52 to go in the half.
What made things worse for Nebraska was that the Nittany Lions got into the bonus early on. The Nittany Lions took 29 free throws compared to the Cornhuskers’ 11. Penn State only missed six of those free throws in their efforts to claw back into the game.
With his team up by one with about three minutes to go, a quiet Myles Dread tallied his first points of the game on a dagger 3 that ultimately secured the victory.
Although Penn State is just the No. 11 seed in the conference tournament, this group of guys feels that it has the potential to shock the world. After the game, Ferry revealed that he saw one word written on the board by one of the team’s seniors when he entered the locker room.
“When I came into the locker room, Jamari was talking to the team,” Ferry said. “Someone wrote ‘believe’ on the board; I found out it was Trent [Buttrick].”
With all this Nittany Lions team has had to fight through this season, they certainly aren’t a team that should be counted out, even in a league like the Big Ten.
The Nittany Lions will look to continue their run in the Big Ten tournament as they take on No. 6 seed Wisconsin. The Badgers were another team whom the Nittany Lions split their season series with. The game will be the last of the second-round matchups. Tipoff is set for Thursday at 8:55 p.m.
Logan Bourandas is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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