Penn State 95, Nebraska 71: Record Setting Night for Nittany Lions

By Matt Simco on February 19, 2019 at 11:27 pm
Feb 19, 2019; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions head coach Patrick Chambers signals from the bench during the second half against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Bryce Jordan Center. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew O'Haren - USA Today Sports

The unstoppable force that is Penn State basketball wearing black and pink uniforms continued their dominance at the BJC on Tuesday night, as the hosts (10-16, 3-12) destroyed a helpless Nebraska team in a 95-71 blowout victory. The Nittany Lions move to 8-0 all-time in their alternate throwback uniforms, and the 95 points are the most Penn State has ever scored against a Big Ten opponent in regulation. The 24-point victory is also the largest winning margin of the 2018-2019 season, led by Lamar Stevens' 29 points on 18 shots and 21 for Rasir Bolton on 8-12 shooting.

Penn State came out firing with their best half of the conference season, starting from the first possession when the Nittany Lions forced Nebraska to a contested, deep three after a scrambled possession. After missing their first 4 shots, Penn State answered hitting five of their next six, three of which came from downtown. A 10-0 run gave the Nits an early 13-4 lead, and they never looked back. Stevens was having a lot of success in the early goings. His 6-11 shooting performance in the first half gave him 16 points as Penn State’s best player took control of the game, and his team gladly followed suit.  

The Nittany Lions played a great all-around half to build a commanding 44-25 at the break. Pat Chambers team shot 50% from the field while making six three-pointers to Nebraska’s zero. Everyone shot the ball with confidence in the half, and Penn State enjoyed their largest halftime lead of 2019.

There was no slowing down in the second half tonight, as the Nittany Lions came out of the break with the same intensity as we saw in the first half, pouring in 51 second-half points. Jamari Wheeler has been playing great as of late and was excellent for the black and pink. He had 9 points on 4-7 shooting with four rebounds, four steals, and five assists on a very efficient night. With 15:47 left in the second half, Wheeler snatched an offensive rebound, faked a pass out to the perimeter, and put it back plus the foul. This was part of an 11-1 run where Penn State ballooned their lead to 61-36.  

Cold stretches have been very characteristic of this Penn State team, but there were no such stretches tonight. It was really a fantastic offensive performance from the Nittany Lions, who shot 56% from the field (35-63), 50% from three (11-22), and 88% from the line (14-17).  

Bolton had himself a night, scoring from all over the floor and draining some impressively deep three-pointers. Just like the first half, Stevens was magnificent for the Nittany Lions in the second frame. The star junior finished the game with 29 points on a very efficient 11-18 shooting, and Penn State was +25 with him on the court.

With 2:46 to go, Josh Reaves converted for three, giving Penn State their largest lead of the game at 90-62 and the senior his 1,000th career point. The closing minutes saw the starters out of the game as we even got to see Daniil Kasatkin get his first Big Ten minutes as a Nittany Lion. He badly missed his only shot despite the crowd cheering him on to shoot. Nonetheless, the Nittany Lions closed out the game, earning a decisive 95-71 home victory.

The Cornhuskers have struggled in absence of star forward Issac Copeland, who tore his ACL January 26th against Ohio State. Nebraska lost their first four games without him but had won their last two prior to Tuesday. Unfortunately for Tim Miles and co., they ran into a red-hot Nittany Lions squad and have now lost 7 of their last 8 away from Lincoln.

Something we’ve always seen from PSU under Pat Chambers is a great effort, and that was present in tonight's affair. The Nittany Lions won all of the hustle stats tonight, beating the Cornhuskers in rebounds, steals, blocks, and points off turnovers. The most impressive feat the Nittany Lions achieved was 36 bench points. It really didn’t matter who was on the court for Penn State today, who played a spectacular game tonight from start to finish. 

The Nittany Lions will travel to Champaign on Saturday to face Brad Underwood’s Fighting Illini, who have won four out of their last five games. This game will feature two teams who struggled for much of the year but have been playing much better as of late. The Nittany Lions have won two out of their last three and three of their last five and will look to continue playing well in what will be a tough road matchup against Ayo Dosunmu and Giorgi Bezhanishvili.

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