Penn State Dominates Nebraska in Offensive Battle
Penn State got off to a hot start against the Cornhuskers in this game, with four Nittany Lions scoring multiple field goals in the first half.
The Lions dominated on the offensive glass and on defense to score 13 second-chance points and 14 points off turnovers in the opening period.
Nebraska didn’t do themselves any favors on the offensive end, not making its first free throw until 1:56 left in the first half.
In a lopsided matchup that the Nittany Lions controlled from the start, Penn State scored a season-high 95 points and shot 56 percent from the field, including a jaw-dropping 50 percent from 3-point range.
The Lions also had an extremely efficient game at the free throw line, making 88 percent of their attempts.
Penn State had two players score 20 points or more, including Lamar Stevens with a season-best 29 and freshman guard Rasir Bolton with 21 on 8-of-12 shooting, a career high in Big Ten play.
Stevens drained two 3-pointers on the night, and head coach Patrick Chambers described the versatility of his team’s offense when Stevens is shooting well from deep.
“What it does for our team is it opens up the whole floor now. Because everybody’s loading up, there’s no space out there. Jamari’s not a great 3-point shooter, Johnny’s [Harrar] not shooting 3s, so you have three guys who are not making 3s. So when he’s making 3s, the floor just opens up,” Chambers said.
Bolton took notice of the chemistry he and fellow guard Jamari Wheeler are starting to develop.
“He’s fast, I’m fast. Whoever gets it, we push it and if he drives down the lane I’m either in the corner for a kick out or cutting with him. If I drive, everybody’s guarded, if I see five [Wheeler] drive down the lane so I drop it off, he gets a layup,” Bolton said.
Mike Watkins and Josh Reaves each tacked on 10 points, with Reaves earning 1000 points on his Penn State career.
Penn State’s red-hot shooting certainly helped them to victory, but their ability to create points off of Nebraska’s mistakes was also key. The Lions scored 18 points off of turnovers and 20 points on second attempts. They outrebounded the Cornhuskers 36-29, grabbing many extra opportunities.
Wheeler, known less for his scoring ability than his defensive prowess, has looked smoother on offense in recent games. Wheeler posted nine points on 4-of-7 shooting, including a handful of smooth layups.
As usual, Wheeler made what Chambers refers to as “attitude plays,” accounting for four steals and being his typical disruptive self defending on the perimeter.
“I think we give him the confidence to be more comfortable," Chambers said. "I told Jamari after that Purdue game, ‘you gotta shoot it, make somebody guard you,’ because we’re a good rebounding team, we’re gonna go get it. Play with confidence, play with a chip on your shoulder, and I thought he did that tonight."
Up Next: Penn State hits the road to take on Illinois on Saturday, Feb. 23 at the State Farm Center.
Jeremy Ganes is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.