Penn State men’s basketball (6-6, 0-2 Big Ten) took on Alabama (8-3) on Friday night. Despite a hot start from the field for the Nittany Lions, Penn State couldn’t keep pace with a strong Alabama offense.
Lamar Stevens struggled throughout the night. The junior forward finished with 12 points but shot 6-19 from the field and 0-6 from beyond the three-point line. The Nittany Lions got off to a 20-9 lead early, but Alabama quickly went on an 18-0 run that gave them the lead going into the half. Penn State battled throughout the second half, ultimately failing to solidify a lead in the final minutes.
How It Happened
Mike Watkins got the scoring going for the Nittany Lions with a pretty fadeaway jump shot followed by a Rasir Bolton three pointer from the corner. The first five minutes of the game consisted of some quick back and forth scoring between both sides, but Penn State held a 10-7 lead when the game entered the first media timeout.
Penn State was hot from the three point line within the first eight minutes of the game, shooting four for seven from deep. A three pointer from Trent Buttrick gave Penn State a 20-9 lead with 11:31 remaining and forced the Crimson Tide to call a timeout.
Myles Dread led the Nittany Lions with six points in the first ten minutes of the first half; the freshman guard hit two of four three pointers early. The Crimson Tide didn’t have any specific scoring leaders early on, as no player had more than two points heading into the second media timeout.
The Crimson Tide clawed their way back quickly, going on an 18-0 run marked by a three from Riley Norris. Alabama was able to retake the lead with about five minutes remaining in the half by a score of 24-23.
Penn State’s scoring drought went on for more than seven minutes, but was finally ended by a Mike Watkins tip in, his fourth point of the night. The Nittany Lions had seven turnovers in the first half and Lamar Stevens shot two of nine from the field — yet, they were only down by a score of 33-27 at halftime.
Josh Reaves and Myles Dread both had fast break dunks to get Penn State going on offense to start the second half. The Crimson Tide stayed hot on offense, though, as Tevin Mack hit back to back three pointers that gave Alabama a 41-31 lead heading into the first media timeout of the half.
The Nittany Lions were able to battle back and shrink Alabama’s lead to 48-42 going into another media timeout with about 12 minutes remaining.
Freshman guard (and Birmingham native) Myreon Jones hit a lay up through a foul and converted on the free throw, cutting the Alabama lead to 49-47. The two teams continued to go back and forth, but a Lamar Stevens layup gave the Nittany Lions a 54-53 lead with 7:46 remaining.
Alabama stormed back quickly, taking a 65-60 lead with about three minutes remaining. Penn State struggled on offense down the stretch, as Josh Reaves and Myreon Jones both missed open threes that would have brought the Nittany Lions back within one possession of Alabama.
The Crimson Tide held a 70-64 lead with 30 seconds remaining. Penn State sent the Crimson Tide to the line a few times down the stretch and Alabama won by a final score of 73-64.
- The Nittany Lions lacked any sort of consistent scoring option. Lamar Stevens struggled mightily from the field while Mike Watkins finished with just nine points. Trent Buttrick led Penn State in scoring with 13 points thanks to his strong three-point shooting, but the Nittany Lions didn’t have anyone else step up on a night where their usual scorers could’ve used some help.
- Penn State’s best defenders got into foul trouble early. Mike Watkins picked up two fouls early and played limited time in the first half, eventually picking up four with meaningful minutes left to play in the game. Jamari Wheeler picked up three fouls with about ten minutes remaining in the second. Foul trouble clearly limited these two scrappy defenders’ effectiveness throughout the night.
- The Nittany Lions have struggled from the free throw line in previous games, but tonight they didn’t even get a chance to do that. Penn State didn’t even take a foul shot until there was 12:16 remaining in the second half.
The Nittany Lions will travel back to State College to take on the UMBC Retrievers on Saturday, December 29th at 1 p.m. You can watch the game on the Big Ten Network.