Talk about a heavyweight battle last night in East Lansing, Michigan! Blow-for-blow and toe-to-toe, if anything was needed to validate Penn State basketball’s climb up the mountain, last night was it! The Nittany Lions rolled into one of college basketball’s most hallowed arenas and walked away with a victory. Down goes Sparty indeed, 75-70 in a thriller that came down to the wire.
What makes this one even more special is the fact that this wasn’t some fluke or just a case of Penn State catching the Spartans on a bad night, not by any means. What this was instead, was two of college basketball’s best trading blows and counterpunches for 40 straight minutes and the Nittany Lions came out on top. On Sparty’s court no less. After months of speculation and wishful thinking, we may as well say it now, go ahead and polish up those dancing shoes and get ready for Madness because this squad just won’t be denied!
Outside of the masterful performance, Pat Chambers dialed up from the sideline, it all begins and ends with the senior from Philly, Lamar Stevens. Just recently announced as a finalist for the Wooden Award as the nation’s best player, if he wasn’t stepping back to drain a much-needed three, he was busy bulldozing his way inside to find the perfect shot. Stevens finished with 24 points, seven rebounds and is well on his way to overtaking not only Jesse Arnelle for second on the all-time scorers’ list but is on a quest to overtake Taylor Battle as well after last night’s performance.
Myreon Jones was a perfect four-for-four from behind the arc at one point and finished with 20 points and five assists. Mike Watkins had 10 hard-fought points to go along with eight rebounds, and Myles Dread continued to bounce back from his January shooting woes to hit two key three-pointers. Defensively, the Nittany Lions collected nine steals, forced 15 turnovers, and I am now convinced that just the mere shadow of speed demon Jamari Wheeler has become enough to alter shots. Overall, No. 22-ranked (subject to climb of course) Penn State is 17-5 and 7-4 in the jumbled up Big Ten with plenty of opportunities ahead to keep rising to the top of the conference. The Nittany Lions are on a five-game winning streak and are the only team in conference play to record three road wins, something the tournament committee simply cannot deny when it comes time to make their at-large bids and seedings next month.
Up next, of course, is a Saturday afternoon rematch inside the Bryce Jordan Center with Minnesota, who coincidently was the last team to beat the Nittany Lions back in January, 75-69. Tip-off is at 4pm and a sellout is fully expected. Last night we defeated a giant and now payback stares us in the face against a school that’s been a thorn in our side going back to last November. Be loud and bring the ROAR Nittany Nation, it’s time we show those Gophers who the king really is!