STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Campbell coach Kevin McGeehan exhausted all his options trying to defend Penn State's Tony Carr on Friday.
By the time McGeehan sent big man Shane Whitfield out to shadow Penn State's do-it-all point guard, it was too late.
Carr scored 24 of his career-high 33 points in the second half and Penn State beat Campbell 86-75 in the first game for both teams.
"We put our power forward on him at the end of the game," McGeehan said. "He's a tremendous player, his length and his pace is just really, really good. He has a great sense for the game."
Josh Reaves chipped in 15 points while Julian Moore and Shep Garner added eight apiece for the Nittany Lions, who won their sixth straight season opener.
But Carr almost single-handedly kept it out of reach for the Camels. He scored 18 points in the final five minutes and made two big shots to halt Campbell runs.
With a 16-8 run to start the second, Penn State led by 17 midway through the half. The Camels cut it to a six-point deficit with a run of their own but Carr buried one of his two 3-pointers to break it up.
Minutes later, he drilled a midrange jumper that stopped another Campbell run and gave Penn State a 75-65 lead with 1:42 left.
"I'm going to take a lot of positives away from this game," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said.
Chris Clemons led Campbell with 39 points, and Andrew Eudy added 11 points and nine rebounds for the Camels.
The Nittany Lions went without a field goal for almost the final four minutes of the first half. But Carr backed his way to the hoop for a layup with three seconds left to give Penn State a 36-28 halftime lead. Penn State led for over 33 minutes.
Carr wants more
Carr can be tough on himself and he opted to call himself out, focusing on his misses, even after a career night.
The sophomore made 9 of 23 field goals and 13 of his points came at the free-throw line.
"I feel like I definitely could've played better," Carr said. "I had some bad misses."
Watkins to return
Penn State forward Mike Watkins, who missed the team's two exhibition games and was left at home when the team traveled to the Bahamas in August, was again missing from the lineup.
Watkins did warm up with the team and Chambers confirmed he will start on Sunday when Penn State hosts Fairleigh Dickinson.
The 6-foot-9 Watkins, who led the team in rebounds (267) and was second in the Big Ten with 90 blocks, sat out early in his career with academic issues and Chambers had declined to say why he's been out other than to describe it as an "in-house" issue.
"I wanted him to warm up, I wanted him to be in the uniform," Chambers said. "He's done everything we asked him to do and I just wanted him to feel that juice and I wanted him to be engaged and prepare like he was going to play."
Campbell: The Camels return a wealth of experience from a team that made the program's first postseason appearance since 1992. With seven of their top eight scorers back from last year, the Camels have the pieces to make a run at a bigger tournament.
Penn State: Chambers' teams have usually made measurable improvements during the non-conference slate where Penn State's coach is 58-31 in six seasons but it's the January-February stretch that's been brutal. The Nittany Lions are two seasons removed from their best Big Ten finish under Chambers where they won seven games and have never had the returning talent they have now. Five of their conference losses last season were by five points or less.
Campbell hosts Columbia International on Monday.
Penn State hosts Fairleigh Dickinson on Sunday.