They say good things come in threes and after last night, I’m a firm believer in that. Penn State basketball absolutely walloped the No. 17 ranked Maryland Terps in front of a BJC crowd. The 78-61 victory was their third in a row, fourth out of the last five, and you guessed it, third over a Top-20 opponent this season. A season that got too far away from them back in January.
It all started with a Myles Dread swoosh from behind the three-point arc and the Nittany Lions never looked back. They went into halftime sporting a 22-point lead, went up by as much as 29 in the second, and the Terps never got closer than 14 down the stretch; despite their best efforts. Unlike games in the past, Penn State never took their foot off the gas in this runaway romp. At one point, things got so bad for the visitors that head coach Mark Turgeon subbed out his entire starting five during a time out. It didn’t work, and the Nittany Lions feasted on Turtle Soup in the end.
Lamar Stevens once again led the way with 24 points to mark the fifth time in the past six games he’s reached the 20-point plateau and Dread had 15 by halftime before cooling off in the second, once the damage was already done. Myreon Jones came off the bench to score 10 and both Mike Watkins and Jon Harrar more than held their own in the paint. Jamari Wheeler and Josh Reaves led a stifling defense that held the Terps to one for 17 from behind the arc, forced 17 turnovers, and collected 23 defensive rebounds.
Last night’s victory did little to pull us out of the Big Ten basement but with three games remaining and a logjam below the top four of Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, and the same Maryland squad we just pummeled, anything is possible, including a first-round bye in the Big Ten Tournament two weeks from now in Chicago. Penn State is 12-16 overall and now 5-12 in conference play, but the heartache of being ‘winless’ is quickly disappearing in the rearview mirror. Up next, the Nittany Lions head to Madison for a rematch with Wisconsin on Saturday at 1 p.m. If the Badgers think this is the same squad they took advantage of last month in the BJC, they’ve got another thing coming. This team is breathing fire and brimstone, and dead-set on busting postseason dreams.