A storm sweeps its way into Penn State

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A storm sweeps its way into Penn State


STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- A mob of white-clad fans stormed the court at Bryce Jordan Center and Tony Carr disappeared among them.

Carr was the most noticeable player on the court until then, scoring 30 points to lead Penn State to a 79-56 rout of No. 8 Ohio State on Thursday night.

"They threw a bunch of (defenders) at him," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. "Tony was super-efficient tonight. I think his teammates knew he had it going a little bit."

C.J. Jackson led Ohio State (22-6, 13-2 Big Ten) with 13 points and Keita Bates-Diop added 10 for the Buckeyes, who had their four-game winning streak snapped.

Now, the Nittany Lions (19-9, 9-6) are cruising, winners of six of their last seven since Carr lifted them over Ohio State with a buzzer-beater on Jan. 25. Thursday's win marked Penn State's first four-game conference winning streak since 2008-09 and the Nittany Lions have a chance to beat ranked teams in back-to-back games for the first time since 2011, when they travel to No. 6 Purdue.

They'll bring a defense that frustrated the Buckeyes (22-6, 13-2) in their lowest scoring performance of the 2017-18 season.

Mike Watkins added 11 points and 10 rebounds for his tenth double-double of the season. Shep Garner and Josh Reaves added 13 and 10 points apiece for the Nittany Lions, who led 45-21 at halftime and by as many as 30 early in the second.

The Nittany Lions took control in the first half with a 12-0 run.

Carr tossed an alley-oop Watkins' way and the forward jammed home the run's second basket to give Penn State the lead for good just 3:20 in.

Penn State added a pair of 7-0 runs and a 6-0 spurt later in the half and Carr beat two defenders and buried an awkward layup off a full-court inbounds pass and an ensuing free throw to close the first half.

"We really have a hard time guarding him," Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. "We've tried almost everybody on our perimeter on him. We have ran through the gamut."

Garner nailed one of his four 3-pointers to put Penn State up by 30 early in the second. But the Buckeyes used an 18-4 run to cut Penn State's lead to 16 with 10:32 to play. Bates-Diop hit a 3-pointer to pull the Buckeyes to 58-42, but they wouldn't get any closer.

"If we continue with this effort, it's going to be a long couple of weeks," Holtmann said.

The big picture
Ohio State: The Buckeyes entered a half game up on No. 2 Michigan State in the Big Ten standings and a 1 ahead of No. 6 Purdue with the head-to-head tiebreaker over both. The Boilermakers fell to Wisconsin on Thursday, so they didn't gain any ground. But the Buckeyes' lead isn't safe with three games left, especially if they shoot as poorly as they did inside the Bryce Jordan Center where they made just 28 percent of their field goals over the first 20 minutes.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions controlled this game from the opening tip thanks to stingy defense that turned into opportunistic offense. They improved to 2-2 against ranked teams this season.

Try them all
Holtmann tried Jae'Sean Tate, Andre Wesson and even forward Bates-Diop to slow Carr. None were very effective as Carr made 9 of 15 shots from the floor and 8 of 12 free throws.

Afterward, Carr grinned when asked if he draws any personal satisfaction from the fact opponents are running through their playbooks and personnel on account of him.

"It's kind of something I'm used to, teams throw one or two defenders at me during the game," Carr said. "It's definitely a confidence booster when they can't really stop you."

One-sided stats
Penn State won the rebounding battle 38-30 and racked up defensive stats all night. The Nittany Lions finished with eight steals, seven blocks and scored 15 points off 10 Ohio State turnovers.

Jackson cramping
Jackson wasn't available all evening and had to go to the locker room with cramps in the second. It's been an issue for most of the season for the junior guard.

"I think obviously our guard depth is a bit of a concern, particularly at that position," Holtmann said. "I think we all understand how important he is to us. I don't think he would've been able to go back in the game if we wanted to put him in."

Up next
Ohio State travels to No. 22 Michigan on Sunday.

Penn State visits No. 6 Purdue on Sunday.

Villanova, Penn with polar opposite NCAA Tournament draws

Villanova, Penn with polar opposite NCAA Tournament draws

No surprises on the Main Line and well, the Quakers have quite the hill to climb to advance.

Villanova on Sunday night was awarded the 1-seed in the East Region and will face the winner of the LIU Brooklyn/Radford game Thursday in Pittsburgh. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:50 p.m. on TNT.

The Wildcats have been a top-two seed since 2014 and it's the second straight year they're a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Villanova was the No. 1 overall seed in last year's tournament.

Penn was named the 16th seed in the Midwest Region and will face the No. 1-seeded Kansas Jayhawks on Thursday at 2 p.m. on TBS in Wichita, Kansas.

Steve Donahue has the Quakers back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007 in his third season as Penn's head coach.

The Quakers are 24-8 and this will be their 24th-ever appearance in the tournament.

'Nova survived a scare from Providence on Saturday night to win its second straight Big East title and its third in the past four years.

If the Wildcats beat LIU Brooklyn/Radford, they'll face the winner of the No. 8-seeded Virginia Tech and No. 9 seed Alabama. Purdue is the No. 2 seed in the East.

Also in the East are No. 3 Texas Tech and No. 4 Wichita State.

Penn aims to end 11-year drought this weekend

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Penn aims to end 11-year drought this weekend

NBC Sports Philadelphia anchor/reporter Amy Fadool and senior producer Sean Kane get you set for all the weekend's local college basketball games with Fastbreak Friday. With the regular season ending this weekend, this will be the final Fastbreak Friday column of the season.

Temple (16-13, 8-9 AAC) at Tulsa (18-11, 11-6 AAC), Sunday at 3 p.m.
 It’s been a rough season for the Temple Owls. Yes, there was that win over ranked Wichita State in the middle of a 5-game win streak. But after the stumbles down the stretch, that seems like a distant memory. 

Of course, the bad can be washed away with an AAC tournament run, but first, the Owls need to close out on the road against Tulsa. 

Given their track record on the road, things don’t line up well for Fran Dunphy’s crew. Plus, it’s dollar dog, dollar soda and dollar popcorn night at Tulsa. That’s a delicious trifecta. 

But there is still some fight in this team. Quintin Rose and Shizz Alston have been everything the Owls have needed, and throw in Nate Pierre-Louis and you have a nice core back for next season.

Temple 71,  Tulsa 70

Pennsylvania (21-7, 11-1 Ivy) at Yale (14-14, 7-5 Ivy), Friday at 7 p.m.
Pennsylvania (21-7, 11-1 Ivy) at Brown (11-14, 4-8 Ivy), Saturday at 6 p.m.
Penn enters the final weekend of the regular season in control of its own destiny. If the Quakers beat Yale and Brown on the road they'll win their first Ivy League championship since 2007 and earn the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament, which will be played at the Palestra next weekend. It all adds up to Penn having the inside track to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 11 years.

This seems like an appropriate time to salute the job done by head coach Steve Donahue. In just his third season at Penn, he has the Quakers poised to reclaim top billing in the Ivy League. He inherited a team that finished 9-19 in the 2014-2015 season and promptly began a swift rebuilding project. Penn went 11-17 in Donahue's first season, 13-14 in his second year, and now stand at 21-7 overall and 11-1 in conference play. Look for those winning ways to continue this weekend and for Donahue and company to do some celebrating.

Penn 73, Yale 66
Penn 69, Brown 60

La Salle (13-17, 7-10 A-10) at St. Joseph's (14-15, 9-8 A-10), Saturday at 2 p.m.
La Salle and St. Joe's will each try to keep the good times rolling heading into next week's A-10 Tournament. La Salle has won three of its last four games, including a convincing 18-point win over Dayton earlier this week. St. Joseph's meanwhile has a 5-1 record in its last six games and just recorded arguably one of the most stunning victories of this college basketball season.

The Hawks went on the road and beat No. 18 Rhode Island, 78-48, on Tuesday, spoiling the Rams' senior night in the process. It was the first road win over a ranked team for St. Joseph's since 1979 and it came in shockingly easy fashion. I expect the Hawks to build on that momentum this weekend and avenge a three-point loss to La Salle earlier this season.

St. Joseph's 74, La Salle 68 

Drexel (12-19, 6-12 CAA) at James Madison (10-21, 6-12 CAA), Saturday at 4 p.m. in first round of CAA Tournament
The Dragons' season has been marked with highs and lows. While it may seem like a marginal improvement — with 12 wins to their credit compared to nine last season — they did double their conference win total. 

Also, Drexel beat the top two teams in the CAA this season as well as set an NCAA Division-I record for the largest comeback ever when they erased a 34-point deficit against Delaware. 

But the Dragons did have two separate losing streaks that would cause any coach to lose sleep, one of five straight and the other of four straight losses. 

Drexel begins the quest for its first-ever CAA tournament title against JMU, then Charleston awaits on basically home turf. Go ahead and make it a baker’s dozen, Dragons. 

Drexel 76, JMU 74

Prediction Records
Sean Kane: 30-11
Amy Fadool: 22-21