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Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lions Beat Kent State 75-69

by on December 24, 2015 6:00 AM
Las Vegas, NV

When the season started there were more questions than answer about the course of Penn State basketball's season.

And as the Nittany Lions finished strong and completed the non conference schedule at 9-4 on the year those questions still remain.

But there are far more answers to go with them.

To be sure, how Penn State truly is in Big Ten play this year is a mystery only time will answer. Even so, the Nittany Lions are a vasty improved team from where they were a month or two ago. Rarely down and out, rarely losing without a fight, this team has learned that anyone can lead the way in the box score and anyone can show up in crunch time.

That proved to be the case again on Wednesday just a day after a late loss to Colorado the night before. Penn State started slow but scored 42 first half points en route to a 42-37 lead over Kent State at the break. The Nittany Lions erasing an early 12-5 deficit and going down by as many as 10 midway through the first half.  Penn State used an 11-2 run to cut the gap to just a single point with 6:25 to go in the half.

From there Penn State used a 9-2 run to gain the eventual halftime lead and make amends for its early half struggles.

Both teams traded baskets for much of the second half and Kent State used a run midway through the frame to take a 57-51 lead.

Once again though a charge by the Nittany Lions erased a hole and turned it into a lead as a 10-2 run turned a five point deficit into a two point lead with 4:29 to go in regulation.

Penn State never looked back and Kent State managed just two baskets in the final 2:39 of regulation while the Nittany Lions made timely free throws and baskets to keep the Golden Flash at a distance. A Taylor drive and finish pushed Penn State out to a five point margin with 29 seconds to play. Just 10 seconds later a Josh Reaves steal and dunk all but finished off the game and two Shep Garner free throws put the finishing touches on the win.

The Nittany Lions got 29 points from Taylor who made 12-of-21 shots from the floor to go with 6 rebounds and two steals. Reaves added 10 points, 6 rebounds and three steals to his career totals as well while freshman forward Deividas Zemgulis chipped in 11 points off the bench including a key rebound and basket in the final minute of play.

All told Penn State finishes the non conference schedule at 9-4 and a much improved team from where the Nittany Lions began just weeks ago.

The road won't get any easier though, Penn State travels to College Park to take on No. 4 ranked Maryland on Dec 30 to open Big Ten play.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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