Junior Myles Dread nailed a buzzer-beating three-pointer as Penn State (2-0) won its second game of the men's basketball season on Wednesday evening, knocking off Virginia Commonwealth by a score of 72-69.
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For the first 39 minutes of the game, it was a forgettable night for Dread, who had four fouls in his first eight minutes and started 0-4 from the field. But when it mattered most, then junior came through, burying a three from the right wing on a feed from Jamari Wheeler, released with 0.4 seconds left on the clock.
The Nittany Lions were led from start to finish by sophomore forward Seth Lundy, who is looking to succeed Tony Carr and Lamar Stevens as the next star from the Roman Catholic-to-Penn State pipeline. Lundy scored a career-high 32 points, including a 5-of-10 performance from beyond the arc.
Transfer guard Sam Sessoms also appears ready to be a key player this season. He provided a steadying presence at key moments as he was able to create his own shot and shots for others. Sessoms finished with 17 points, 2 assists, and 2 steals.
Junior guard Myreon Jones struggled from the field but managed to add six assists and four steals, most of them in the first half. Forward John Harrar and guard Jamari Wheeler led the team with eight rebounds each, while Wheeler also added six assists.
Unsurprisingly, it was a bit of a chaotic game, with 31 combined turnovers between two teams that defend aggressively and push the pace. VCU also has a young team with plenty of depth, going 11 deep in this game with every reserve playing 10 or more minutes. There were some nervous moments where it looked like Penn State might unravel, but a dynamic effort from Lundy and the steady, intelligent play of Sessoms kept them in front most of the way.
Fouls were a problem at times for Penn State, which has an unbalanced roster with limited options in the frontcourt. While no one fouled out, foul trouble limited Dread and Harrar's playing time.
- Seth Lundy is not afraid to be The Guy on this team. He may not be able to get to the rim consistently the way Lamar Stevens or DJ Newbill could, but his confidence in his three-point shot and mid-range game means that he is going to be comfortable taking plenty of shots when he needs to. Lundy likely won't take 19 shots every game, as he is the only player on the roster who can plausibly play the 4-spot. He'll likely be logging heavy minutes, but his early confidence is a good sign.
- Sam Sessoms is a true point guard, which is something Penn State has lacked since Tony Carr left. His handle is strong and his instincts are good, a combination that brings a playmaking dynamic this offense has lacked at times in recent years. Despite being five inches shorter than Carr, Sessoms may be a better finisher around the rim due to his better vertical and his body control. He's also an active defender who should be quick enough to face off against the opponent's smallest guard each game. Sessoms forced things in the second half of this game and had some turnovers as a result, but that is likely an early adjustment as he adapts to playing high major basketball. The overall signs are good.
- Head coach Jim Ferry is going to have headaches all season in trying to deal with this roster. Sessoms is a point guard and Harrar is the 5, but the rest of the team is made up of wing players, and many are having to play out of position to put together a competent rotation. The most notable is the 4 position. Lundy is a logical choice due to his game, though he's slightly undersized at 6-foot-6. They're trying to have Myles Dread play there as well, but it's not working well, at least not yet. Dread was picked on in this one and picked up four fouls in his first eight minutes of play. There is no help on the way here, so the team is going to have to patch it together seemingly every night the rest of the way.
Penn State's final non-conference home game (unless the Drexel game is rescheduled) will be this Sunday against Seton Hall. After that, they will travel to Virginia Tech before kicking off Big Ten play. That game will tip off at 8:00 p.m. EST on the Big Ten Network.