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Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lions Looking For Best Start Since 2008-09 Season On Sunday

by on December 20, 2013 12:15 PM

Every team loses. And every team loses a close game or two. What is the mark of a good team though is the ability to bounce back from a loss and learn from what caused it. 

In Penn State's case, a defeat last week to Princeton at Rec Hall was about has hard as they come. A once 20-point lead evaporating in the final stages of the game in front of a packed house and during a special event. Couple that will a last-second miss in overtime to tie the game and you've got a recipe for a lot of unhappiness.

So what happened?

"What I will tell you is they tried to play perfect," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said on Thursday. "And when you try and play perfect you try and play not to lose. We just got a little too jumpy a little too anxious. That's what I saw and that's what I saw on film."

"I'm glad it happened because it's going to teach us a lesson."

But even if you learn something, you have to be able to apply it and move past the loss. So how did the team respond after a few days to rest and take finals?

"We had a team meeting," Chambers said. "I felt like we had to get it out of our system. We had a beautiful three-hour practice yesterday. We got back to our roots, back to our habits. We had a good day and today was even better. We're back on the tracks so to speak and our leadership has a better idea of what they need to do. These last couple of days were sorely needed and we got a lot out of them."

Penn State will get its chance on Sunday to prove that it has learned its lesson as it takes on Mount Saint Mary's in the final non conference game of the year. The Mountaineers are 3-7 on the year and should provide the Nittany Lions with a perfect chance to bounce back.

The Nittany Lions will also get their first look at guard John Johnson who is finally eligible to play after sitting out a year due to NCAA transfer rules. Chambers has high expectations for the guard, but he isn't going to just throw him into the fire.

"I'm going to stick with the top 6 guys, I don't want to mess their chemistry. But he will play because he has earned it. He comes every day and plays hard."

With Johnson joining the ranks and over a week behind them, Chambers is just looking for one thing this Sunday.

"I'm looking for us to bounce back after a difficult and emotional loss. Last year it would take four or five games. But with the leadership and talent that we have that just can't happen."

A win would end Penn State's out of conference schedule at 9-4, Penn State's best record over that span under Chambers and best start as a program since the 2008-09 season when the Nittany Lions went 11-2.

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