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Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lions Roll Past Nebraska 95-71

by on February 19, 2019 10:45 PM

Penn State basketball's 95-71 rout of Nebraska wasn't exactly basketball calculus, nor needs to be treated as such after the fact.

The Nittany Lions were the better team heading into the game, they were healthier and more talented. Nebraska has not fared well away from home and Penn State has played its best basketball in the friendly confines of the Bryce Jordan Center.

By the half all of that showed as the Nittany Lions led 44-25 behind a well rounded effort on all fronts.

Lamar Stevens ended the night with 29-points, one off his career-high while Rasir Bolton added 21 and Jamar Wheeler poured in nine of his own. Josh Reaves joined the 1,000-point club with 10, reaching the mark with a late three. Mike Watkins added 10 points and six rebounds in 16 minutes of action. 

Nebraska would go on a 5-0 run to open the second half, but that was the only counterpunch the Huskers threw all night as Penn State scored 51 in the game's final 20 minutes.

All of that results in what you already know, a win.

So what does it mean?

By the numbers Penn State is 10-16 and now 3-12 in the Big Ten. It's not exactly a backdrop that brings with it untold levels of excitement, but it also stands to reason that anyone still following along is well aware how the season has unfolded. It has been a collection of "normal" losses, bad bounces, bad calls and bad luck. It doesn't excuse the record, but it is what it is.

In that light Tuesday night's win was important for Pat Chambers if for no other reason than it avoids the obvious conversations. Nebraska had been pretty bad most all of the year, whatever you might think of Penn State's performance this year, there is an inherent difference between never having a chance, and failing to win close games.

Penn State had spent most of the year being a part of the latter.

On the heels of a win over Michigan and two competitive games against Purdue, it was lowly Nebraska hobbling into the Bryce Jordan Center.

And there have been plenty of years when that has meant an ugly game, it has meant rock fights and more often than not, Penn State getting beat for seemingly no apparent reason.

For all of the reasons you could have avoided it before, losing on Tuesday night would have meant seriously unpacking conversations about Chambers' future. It's one thing to expect better results against the good teams, equally true, Penn State's margin of defeat this year has been 8.08 points. Over the 26 previous seasons in the Big Ten, that number has only been bettered by a Penn State team three other times and Chambers is responsible for one of them.

So if you're looking for competitive games, it's not as though you haven't been getting them. Competitive isn't winning, but it's something given the program's history.

Losing, and it might not have mattered.

Of course the argument for and against Pat Chambers has always been centered around the tolerance for losing and how long that is acceptable.

If the Nittany Lions manage to circle the wagons in the season's final few weeks and round up half a dozen wins in conference, can you be disappointed? That's always your right, and given the talent emerging on the roster, it's not unfair.

But if Penn State is figuring out how to beat Michigan and Nebraska in the same short span while being competitive against Purdue both home and away?

That's sort of the progress you've been asking for all along.

It's hard to know for sure what Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour, who took in the game on Tuesday, thinks of all of this.

But if she moves on from Chambers this offseason, Tuesday night won't have been the final straw.



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