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Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lions Top Temple In Rock Fight 63-57

by on March 14, 2018 11:03 PM

In the end, Penn State won, which in the grand scheme of things is the most important part for the Nittany Lions. They do not give out style points, in particular when your season is on the line.

And boy is that good news for Penn State.

At face value a 63-57 final score sounds like the kind of game you might like to watch. Defense, scoring, and not too much of either. All of this coming within the backdrop of postseason basketball. Not a bad way to spend a Wednesday night.

It really wasn't that kind of game, and that's the polite way to put.

Neither Temple or Penn State looked up for a late starting NIT game, or maybe the NIT itself. Add in early clock issues and stoppages, missed shots, turnovers and everything in between. The result, a 16-12 first quarter (yes that was also a thing thanks to experimental NIT rules) by Temple that looked little like the best Penn State has had to offer this season.

A 29-24 halftime lead by the Owls only added to a somewhat overwhelming feeling of indifference by both teams. For the Nittany Lions it was Josh Reaves proving that someone in fact wanted to play a game of basketball. Reaves at one moment in time had 10 of the Nittany Lions 16 points and six of their 14 rebounds. Tony Carr was held scoreless in the opening 20 minutes.

The second half was more of the same, the Nittany Lions hanging around if only because of Temple's own bout of struggles. This wasn't a game to write home about, hardly a game to write about at all. But nevertheless as the clock ticked down and Penn State's talent and increasing interest in not losing overtook the Owls. With 6:20 to go Carr made his first basket and only basket, sending the crowd into a frenzy as if the Nittany Lions had won. He finished the night 1-of-12 but with six rebounds and five assists.

From there the Nittany Lions looked the part they had so many times this year. Lamar Stevens ran down an easy basket for a thunderous block, Shep Garner drilled a deep three, Carr found a man wide open for an easy basket. The score was close, but suddenly the talent and the skill between these two teams was clear, it just took nearly the entire game to show up. Free throws and rebounds did the rest.

All told it was a balanced night for the Nittany Lions in the box score, just not from the places you would expect it. Reaves led the way with 19 points, and 11 rebounds while Lamar Stevens added 10 points of his own. The saving grace for Penn State, an unexpected offensive outburst from Nazeer Bostick and Julian Moore who combined for 22 points. The irony of course, that can of scoring from either or both players may have changed the tournament Penn State was playing in.

Regardless, trapped in this particular reality, the Nittany Lions will head to South Bend to face No.1 seed Notre Dame in the second round. Tip is scheduled for Noon on ESPN.

And not to be forgotten, the last time Penn State made the NIT, that first game too was a difficult watch, saved only by a Talor Battle buzzer beater to send it into overtime. From there a historic title run began.

So perhaps Wednesday night will be forgotten if the Nittany Lions make a run of their own.

Because nobody is going to want to watch that game again. 

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