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Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lions Take Care Of Jacksonville State 76-61

by on November 12, 2018 9:07 PM

For the most part the vast majority of non conference games offer little in the way of significant results. Teams win games they should, have toss-up meetings against like opponents and then everyone moves on to conference play.

So in the case of Penn State basketball, a 76-61 victory over Jacksonville State didn't do much in the way of informing you about the Nittany Lions beyond what is already known. 

Lamar Stevens is good, very good in fact. His 25 points and nine rebounds nearly gave him a double-double in back-to-back games after having just two entering the season. Even that wasn't news, but it continues to be confirmed.

Josh Reaves is also very good - at just about everything. His 11 points, two steals and two rebounds was a quintessential Reaves' boxscore as he roared around the court causing problems.

The freshmen, they too are as advertised. Myles Dread had an off night shooting but was solid on the defensive end while Rasir Bolton bounced back from his cold season-opener with 25 points of his own, scoring from all over the floor.

John Harrar will make Mike Watkins earn his spot back on the floor, it will not be given. Harrar is the kind of big man that knows what he's out there to do and how to do it. His six rebounds were about the hardest working rebounds you will find, his three points a product of even more work. Harrar will never be Watkins, but he will never be an easy out for an offensive player either. The motor doesn't quit.

None of that is really news though, the game just showcased it all again as Penn State overcame a slow start to take a 37-32 lead into the half. In the final 20 minutes the Nittany Lions just made more plays, made more shots and played better defense. Jacksonville State was never in the game and never out of it. The clock ran and the outcome seemed obvious even if it wasn't final.

For all of the knowns on display Monday night, one new thread has slowly become apparent just two games into Penn State's season. The Nittany Lions know their roles, from speedy point-guard Jamari Wheeler to Bolton off the bench, everyone appears to have a grasp of what they should be doing and what they're being asked to do.

The source of that, a team meeting prior to the season to discuss those very roles. There would be no fuzziness when it came to expectations or goals. No ambiguity or interpretation, every player has a role and the objective to execute it to the best of their ability.

And while these games might bring little in the way of large storylines and season-altering results, seeing young players embracing their role is the difference between a good team and a great one. It is obviously more nuanced than that, but when it comes to the nitty gritty, how Penn State went about winning on Monday was as important in the long run as the win itself.

"I think everybody understands their value to the team and their value to the program," Coach Pat Chambers said after the game. "Lamar and Josh are going to do what they do. Johnny is going to be tough and physical, Myles does exactly what he's supposed to do."

The result of that equation. 

2-0.



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