Penn State recovered from its Wednesday collapse against Ole Miss with an 85-64 victory over Syracuse Friday night. The Nittany Lions never trailed, and took control of the game midway through the second half. The win moves Penn State to 6-1 on the season, and qualifies as their second quality victory of the non-conference schedule, along with the 81-66 road win over Georgetown.
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Neither team shot the ball particularly well, but there was one place where Penn State had a clear advantage: rebounding. Penn State destroyed Syracuse on the glass 57-28, and crushed them on the offensive boards as well with a 23-7 advantage. Those 23 offensive boards led to 17 second chance points.
Lamar Stevens led the way with 20 points, despite only playing 27 minutes due to foul trouble. Curtis Jones was the team's top three-point shooter on the night, going 3-7 from deep en route to 14 points. Stevens and Jones were also the team's leaders in assists, with four each.
Mike Watkins and Myreon Jones both contributed double-doubles. Jones had 16 points and 10 rebounds, adding three from deep on a 3-9 shooting night beyond the arc. Watkins had 15 points and 16 rebounds, including 11 offensive boards against Syracuse's zone. Watkins also had four blocked shots.
A notable performance on the night was that of freshman forward Seth Lundy, who played the best game of his young Penn State career. In 15 minutes, he chipped in with 10 points, 4 rebounds, and a steal, and played some solid defense. There were freshman mistakes, but it was an encouraging step from Lundy.
As Penn State began to extend the lead in the second half, Syracuse deployed a full court press, a strategy that has given Penn State fits at times. This time, however, the Nittany Lions were largely able to avoid the turnover concerns that have plagued them in the past.
Penn State returns to action Wednesday, Dec. 4 with a home game against Wake Forest. Then, they will play their two December Big Ten games at Ohio State and at home against Maryland.