Penn State moved to 4-0 on the young 2019-2020 season with a dominant win over visiting Bucknell, fueled by a ridiculous second-half push by Pat Chambers' team. After allowing the Bison to shrink the gap on the scoreboard to just three at halftime, the Lions played the second half like their hair was on fire, obliterating any hopes the Bison may have had of pulling the upset.
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The win not only kept Penn State undefeated but also made history, as it is the first time in school history that the program has opened the season with four consecutive 80+ point outputs.
Bucknell jumped out to early 6-2 and 8-7 leads in this one, but the Nittany Lions took back control of the scoreboard with 16:31 to go in the first half and never looked back. They led by as many as 11 in the first half but allowed the Bison way too much space to shoot as the opening period wound down. Bucknell was getting open look after open look with some simple head fakes, and the Penn State defense wasn't creating as many turnovers as it had been accustomed to.
BOY did things change when the second half began.
The Lions went on a 26-9 run in the first seven minutes of the second half, and that was the ballgame. The Penn State defense that we know and love reappeared and stole the souls out of the hearts of all the Bucknell players. Before they even had a chance to breathe and assess what was going wrong, the Lions had opened up a 71-51 lead. The final score would be even more lopsided.
It's hard to point to just one star of this game, as the entire Penn State roster seemed to be on its A-game on Tuesday night. Mike Watkins dictated the pace of the game early on and finished with 18 points on 9-12 shooting, 5 rebounds, and 4 blocks. The Bison had no answer for him.
Jamari Wheeler, who hopped off of the court late but was seen smiling on the bench afterward was his usual spark plug self, accounting for 10 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals. Myles Dread also had a nice game, hitting on four of nine shots from deep, good for 12 points.
Then there was Lamar Stevens. The star forward picked up just 6 points in the first half but took flight in the second frame. The senior finished with a game-high 27 points (11-16 shooting), 8 rebounds (3 offensive), an assist, a block, 3 steals, and no turnovers. And he did so while creating highlights like this one.
WE HAVE LAMAR STEVENS AND OTHER SCHOOLS DO NOT pic.twitter.com/rzKNrXJVap— Roar Lions Roar (@RLRblog) November 20, 2019
All in all, it was everything Pat Chambers could have hoped for from his team, outside of the aforementioned defensive lull toward the end of the first half. But with the type of response they had out of the break, it's hard to be too upset.
They haven't been facing world-beaters, but the Lions are now 4-0 with a quartet dominant performances. It's a long season and the always-difficult Big Ten slate still looms, but it's hard not to be encouraged by what we've seen from this team to this point.
Penn State will be back in action on Saturday against Yale, continuing the NIT Season Tip-Off. The game is set to start at 4:00 p.m. ET in State College. Unfortunately, the game will only be available via BTN Plus, but should you not have a subscription, you can still follow along on our Twitter account and on the site.