Coming off their best performance of the season, Penn State needed to devour their first cupcake of the non-conference slate to feel good about themselves heading into the Big Ten. Mission accomplished. PSU made quick work of Morgan State going wire-to-wire in a comfortable 96-55 win.
The Nittany Lions didn't waste any time jumping on their overmatched opponents. They blitzed Morgan St with seven quick points in the first 62 seconds of the game. The 7-0 start was capped by a 3-point swish from Shep Garner, and the Lions were off to the races. They never slowed down after taking a 20-point lead at halftime and delivered their most consistent performance of the non-conference campaign.
Penn State's noticeable advantage in athleticism helped force eleven first-half turnovers (seven of which were steals) that allowed PSU to get out in transition. The Lions hot three-point shooting continued with Garner and Payton Banks sinking their first four attempts from the field. As the game progressed, the Lions' attack began feasting at the rim, and it became apparent the Bears were never going to be competitive.
It was the Lions' most complete performance of the season. Chambers will be pleased with their first 40-minute effort, but the lackluster opponent was cause for their blowout performance. Now the real season begins when Northwestern comes to the Bryce Jordan Center on Tuesday to tip-off league play.
This was true domination across the board. Penn State swept the four factors en route to their largest margin of victory ever under Pat Chambers. Morgan State simply couldn't compete in any area against the Nittany Lions. For PSU, the rebounding and turnover rates were great improvements over recent performances. It's hard to build off games against such weak competition but Penn State's domination was still encouraging nonetheless.
Another stat that we haven't written nearly enough about has been this team's passing. The Lions racked up another 23 assists, their fourth 20+ assist game of the young season. They only had two games before this year with that many assists in the five previous seasons under Pat Chambers. That's some tremendous improvement so far.
- Shep Garner - Easy day at the office for Shep. 10 points, 3 assists and 2 steals in a season-low 23 minutes.
- Mike Watkins - This wasn't Mike's best game, but it was great to limit his minutes after a season-high 32 on Sunday. He still chipped 10 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks. Dick Jerardi called him the non-conference MVP and that's not debatable.
- Lamar Stevens - The team's mission in this game was to break Lamar out of his recent slump. They were successful. Stevens was PSU's primary option all game long and finished with 20 points on 8-11 shooting and 8 rebounds. It should've been 22 if he didn't miss an easy dunk late.
- Tony Carr - Nearly had a triple double with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists in 34 minutes. He stayed on with the second unit late in the second half. He had another poor stretch of three quick turnovers, but you can tell the game is slowing down for him.
- Payton Banks - Banks continues to maintain his improved shooting thus far on the season. Another 3-8 performance from behind the stripe has him at 40.7% from three on the season. He's going to need to maintain a similar percentage in the Big Ten.
- Josh Reaves - Another prototypical Josh performance. His hands were everywhere in the passing lanes. While we can't confirm if he had a season-high in deflections, we can confirm he had 6 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals in just 21 minutes.
- Julian Moore - They really needed to get Julian going in this game. This was the perfect opportunity for Moore to regain some confidence. He delivered 10 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks in 18 minutes, by far his best game of the season. Anything he can provide will help to take the load of Watkins' shoulders.
- Terrence Samuel - He was nearly the sixth Lion to reach double-figures on the day after scoring nine points on five shots. He even made his fourth career three-pointer.
- Isaiah Washington - Isaiah got some burn, but he only made one free throw and missed all three of his shot attempts.
- Davis Zemgulis - There was also a brief Davis sighting. Zemgulis had been fighting some nagging injuries, so it was good to see him back on the floor. He got a garbage time putback.
- Naz Bostick - Everyone got some run today, including Bostick. He was able to slam down a pretty alley-oop late from his high school teammate Carr.
- Shoutouts to Grant Hazle for scoring his first points as a Nittany Lion and Alex Zhao for his two trillion.