It was ugly, but Penn State was able to come out on the right side of the scoreboard against Maryland on Friday night in State College, grabbing the 55-50 win over the Terrapins. It may have conjured memories of the 36-33 game, but Jim Ferry and his team will happily take the win and move on.
The Lions were led offensively by Izaiah Brockington (13 points) and Jamari Wheeler (11). The contributions of those two were massive in a game in which neither Seth Lundy (2 points, 1-8 shooting) nor Myreon Jones (2 points, 1-9 shooting) was able to provide much of anything on that end of the floor. Brockington and Trent Buttrick led the team with two assists apiece, and John Harrar was a monster on the boards with a game-leading 12 rebounds, four of which came on the offensive end. Harrar just narrowly missed another double-double, finishing with nine points.
This game won't be one that either team is very pleased with looking back, as both teams spent the night turning the ball over. Ultimately, the Terps ended with 16 turnovers to the Lions' 13. Still, despite a number of turnovers that would typically sink them, this Nittany Lions team dug in and provided just enough resistance to keep Maryland at bay, earning them their fifth-straight win over the Terrapins in the friendly confines of the Bryce Jordan Center.
Both teams struggled mightily to shoot the basketball, with Maryland shooting 35.4% from the floor and Penn State 31.5%, which led to the type of game that Ferry's squad is not accustomed to winning. When things click for this team, it's usually a result of turning turnovers into points and pouring in shots from deep. Instead, we saw this team win on Friday night thanks to stout defense (something that has been in short supply this season), rebounding (shout out Harrar), and free-throw shooting (88.9% on the night!). Yeah, it was weird.
But a win is a win, and with it, Penn State should firmly enter the bubble conversation as it relates to the NCAA Tournament. The record may read just 7-8, but this team has not only played the toughest schedule in the country so far, but according to stats guru Ken Pomeroy, THE TOUGHEST SCHEDULE OF ALL TIME.
*toughest schedule of all time— Ken Pomeroy (@kenpomeroy) February 6, 2021
The Lions will next hit the floor in East Lansing against Michigan State on Tuesday, February 9, where they will attempt to move to an even .500 on the season.