Penn State 81, Fairleigh Dickinson 57: Carr Shines, Watkins Returns in Blowout Win

By Matthew Filipovits on November 12, 2017 at 7:23 pm
Nov 12, 2017; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions guard Josh Reaves (23) drives to the basket past Fairleigh Dickinson Knights guard Jahlil Jenkins (3) during the first half at the Bryce Jordan Center. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

© Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

  1st half 2nd half Final
Penn state 45 36 81
Fairleigh DIckinson 29 28 57

Tony Carr put up 20 points again, Mike Watkins made his season debut, and a dunk contest just about broke out in the second period. Penn State's 81-57 win over Fairleigh Dickinson wasn't the prettiest of games - the teams combined for 54 turnovers - but the Nittany Lions' tenacious defending was plenty to secure their second win in two games in the opening weekend of the season. 

Similarly to Friday’s game against Campbell, Penn State got off to a slow start, missing six of their first seven shots from the floor. On the counter, Fairleigh Dickinson came sprinting out of the gate, going four of seven from the floor including a pair of threes. Pat Chambers’ squad quickly righted the ship though, making seven of their next nine shots as they turned up the defensive intensity.

Even after finding their rhythm, Penn State let FDU hang around for a good chunk of the first half mostly due to some sloppy turnovers. Penn State went on a 23-6 run to end the half, going up 45-29 at the break and they did not look back. The Lions ended up needing just 13 more points to secure victory, as the Knights were held to just 0.69 points per possession on the day in a fast-paced affair.

Tony Carr led the charge yet again, putting up 20 points while dishing out seven assists and committing just two turnovers.. Carr had a fantastic day shooting the ball, especially from the free throw line (9-9). He hit all the open ones as well as his fair share of circus shots, including this one to beat the buzzer.

Not to be outdone, Josh Reaves also turned out a stellar performance. He put up 17 points and pulled down nine boards. He also made his presence felt defensively, coming away with four steals and creating havoc that didn't show up in the box score. Reaves has said he worked on his shooting a lot during the offseason and it showed today, shooting 70% from the floor and going two of three from deep. Of course, there were easier looks too:

With the backcourt playing at such a high level, Penn State’s frontcourt got a much-needed shot in the arm with the return of Watkins from "day-to-day" suspension. The sophomore played better than expected, considering this was his first game action since March 9th. In the end, he put up 15 points and pulled down five boards. He was his usual, disruptive self on defense - he got his standard three blocks and even recorded two steals.

After only outrebounding a Campbell team whose tallest player is 6’8, by two, Penn State dominated the glass to the tune of 41-26. With Watkins' getting back in the swing of things, expect that to be a constant occurrence. 

With Watkins' return to the lineup, Satchel Pierce and Julian Moore predictably saw decreased minutes. Pierce played 11 minutes in relief and Moore logged just two minutes of game time today, likely due to his continued recovery from offseason microfracture surgery.

Pat Chambers, Josh Reaves, and Tony Carr spoke to the media about today's win:

Chambers on Josh Reaves: "It's funny. If you play defense and you rebound, the points follow. It's kind of ironic how that comes. But when you think the other way, you think "oh I have to get 20 today", guess what typically happens? Nothing good. He flips the script. He's our second leading scorer because he defends, he rebounds, and he has fun doing it."

Tony Carr on his offensive efficiency: "My teammates were just getting to the proper spot so that made it easier to pass them the ball for open shots. My teammates just had to catch the ball and finish. I don't really turn the ball over that much, John and Shep did a great job meeting passes so the defenders couldn't shoot the passing lanes."

Chambers on his team's depth: "We're big, we're strong, we're physical, we're tough and we can just keep coming at you with different guys like Satchel (Pierce) and Naz (Bostick) and Jamari (Wheeler) who are up for the task. That's the type of team I want to coach, that's the type of team that wins big in the Big Ten."

Reaves on the return of Mike Watkins: "Having Mike back there, it created steals I could go for with more confidence. Knowing that I have the big fella back there, he's someone who has my back, has Tony's back its just a confidence booster."