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Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lions Beat Maryland 74-70

by on February 07, 2018 9:40 PM

It probably speaks to the general impatience of life and the realities of sports that just a month ago it would not have been unreasonable to say Penn State should part ways with Pat Chambers at the end of the season.

The grand improvements that would allegedly send Penn State to the postseason didn't appear to be happening. The last second losses and close defeats of the past had not turned into wins. The Nittany Lions looked good, but sometimes confused, talented but occasionally disjointed. Worst of all, often at the wrong moments.

A month later that all feels like a season ago. Penn State has won four of its last five in the Big Ten including a 74-70 victory over Maryland on Wednesday night where the Nittany Lions were the better team most of the way. A sentence that if you really read, is one not often said of the two programs.

In the first half Lamar Stevens started out 5-for-5 as Penn State found its way into the locker room leading 41-35 in a somewhat defense-optional 20 minutes that was redeemed by both teams shooting over 60-percent from the field for the majority of that span.

This was Penn State at its best offensively. Athleticism, good shooting and even better passing. The Nittany Lions nearly had 10 assists in the first half, a number that in previous years may not have been topped over the span of the entire game.

It was more of the same in the second, Penn State never relented, and if not for some "of course" three-pointers by Maryland to keep the game within reach, (for example, a blocked shot late turning into a contested three that fell) it was hard to picture the Terps really stealing this one.

And they didn't.

Stevens would end the night with 25 points, Tony Carr with 16, Reaves and Watkins with 14 and 11. Whatever Maryland did, Penn State had an answer.

As a result the Nittany Lions are 7-6 in Big Ten play, sixth in the conference all alone just below the elite of the bunch. It didn't seem possible not long ago, and yet Penn State sits facing a final five games that could open the door to a late bubble conversation for the NCAA Tournament.

Which really brings Penn State to a larger increasingly obvious truth, short of a complete collapse it's hard to imagine a compelling reason not to let Chambers play out the final year of his contract. The Nittany Lions are not a bad team, and if the apparent improvements of the last month stick, they will probably only get better.

Time will tell how true that is though, because a lot can change in month. 

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