Lamar Stevens fires darts in Penn State victory

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Lamar Stevens fires darts in Penn State victory

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Lamar Stevens feels like he's playing his most consistent basketball right now, a bad omen for upcoming opponents considering Penn State expects its hybrid forward to do a little bit of everything.

Just like he did on Wednesday.

Stevens scored 25 points on 10-of-12 shooting with 14 in the second half to lift Penn State over Maryland 74-70.

"Lamar really stepped up for us," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. "We needed every one of those points that he had tonight."

Tony Carr added 16 points, Josh Reaves scored 14, and Mike Watkins added 11 for the Nittany Lions (17-9, 7-6 Big Ten Conference), who equaled their previous best mark for conference victories under Chambers.

"The best teams always find ways to win," Stevens said. "We locked down when we had to, got huge stops, huge rebounds and I think that's a huge step for this team."

With Maryland (16-10, 5-8) up 20-14 midway through the first half, Stevens nailed his first of two 3-pointers to spark a quick 9-0 run that helped Penn State take control.

He rolled layups off his fingers and sank midrange jumpers on multiple back-to-back possessions in the second half, where he scored 11 of his team's first 20 points.

"He made some incredible, incredible shots," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. "He was terrific, he was so efficient."

Stevens added four rebounds, two assists and was 3-for-4 on free throws with all three makes coming in the final 5:48 as Maryland threatened.

Anthony Cowan Jr. led Maryland with 15 points while Kevin Huerter and Bruno Fernando added 13 apiece.

Darryl Morsell had 10 points for the Terrapins, who cut a 10-point deficit with 8:11 to play to just three with 1:13 left.

"I didn't think we competed in the first half defensively," Turgeon said. "I thought in the second half, we were really trying hard."

Big picture
Maryland: The Terrapins' disappointing season continues and they have dropped to 7-7 since stalwart forward Justin Jackson's season was ended by a torn shoulder ligament in late December. Although they shot better than their season average, the Terrapins were badly outplayed in the paint, getting outscored 32-22 and outrebounded 27-23.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions are playing an exciting brand of basketball as of late. They have a combined 22 dunks over their last three home games and opponents are finding it hard to play fast against a team that thrives on speed.

Well-guarded
While Stevens led the offense, guards Reaves, Shep Garner and Jamari Wheeler helped keep Cowan Jr. and Huerter from doing major damage.

The Terrapin duo entered the Bryce Jordan Center averaging a combined 30 points per game. And while they got close with 28, they combined for six of their team's 14 turnovers as Penn State dialed up the pressure.

"They really pressured us," Turgeon said. "I thought (Reaves and Wheeler) had a lot to do with it."

Speedy D
Stevens called Reaves the "heart and soul" of the team and there's no question Penn State looks like a different squad with the stingy, opportunistic defender in the lineup.

Penn State is 4-1 since his return from an academic-related suspension.

"He's going to defend and rebound," Chambers said. "He'll guard the best player on the other team, and when he has opportunities to score and make plays, which he usually does, he's that guy that does it for us."

Reaves led the team with nine rebounds with six in the defensive end.

While Penn State has leaned on Reaves since his return, his presence hasn't prevented Chambers from keeping the speedy Wheeler in the rotation. Wheeler played 11 minutes and chipped in three assists.

Up next
Maryland hosts Northwestern on Saturday.

Penn State visits Illinois on Sunday.

Penn State cruises past Iowa

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Penn State cruises past Iowa

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Mike Watkins scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his 11th double-double of the season and Penn State beat Iowa 82-58 on Saturday.

Lamar Stevens added 17 points and Tony Carr 16 for the Nittany Lions (16-9, 6-6 Big Ten Conference), who've won three of their last four.

Tyler Cook led Iowa (12-13, 3-9) with 19 points and Luka Garza had 13 for the Hawkeyes, who have dropped seven of their last 10.

Penn State seized control early when a dunk from Watkins with 12:39 left in the first half turned a 14-all tie into a 33-14 run. Carr fueled it with 12 points while Watkins had eight during the stretch to give Penn State a 47-28 halftime lead.

Shep Garner hit his third 3-pointer to open the second half and Iowa trailed by as many as 25 and got no closer than 14 the rest of the way.

Big Picture
Iowa: The Hawkeyes' continue to struggle on the road where they're 1-7 overall. That includes a 1-5 mark in enemy Big Ten arenas where the Hawkeyes have fallen by double figures each time. They'll play three of their final six on the road.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions had been in a similar position numerous times this season where seemingly comfortable second-half leads slipped away and turned into losses. It's happened at home and on the road, recently when the Nittany Lions led No. 5 Michigan State by 12 with 15:23 left. If Penn State can continue to finish teams like they did Iowa, the program's best Big Ten finish in coach Patrick Chambers' seven years should be easily attainable with six games left.

Up Next
Iowa hosts No. 5 Michigan State on Tuesday.

Maryland visits Penn State on Wednesday.

Penn State can't slay another giant

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Penn State can't slay another giant

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EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Tom Izzo sat Cassius Winston at the beginning of the second half, benching his point guard to send a message.

It seemed to work.

Miles Bridges had 23 points and Winston scored 12 of his 15 points after halftime and finished with 10 assists, helping No. 5 Michigan State come back from a double-digit deficit to beat Penn State 76-68 on Wednesday night.

The Spartans (21-3, 9-2 Big Ten) rallied to win after trailing by 12 with 15:23 left after coming back from 13-point deficit to win their previous game at Maryland.

"We've got to figure out a way to bring it from the beginning," said Winston, adding Izzo's move motivated him to play with more intensity.

Winston, who was replaced by Tum Tum Nairn at the start of the second half, made a go-ahead layup midway through the second half and Matt McQuaid made back to back 3s after not taking a shot for nearly 30 minutes.

"What breaks your back are the McQuaid 3s," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. "You don't really count on him coming off the bench. I know he's only averaging a few points."

The Nittany Lions (15-9, 5-6) had won two straight, including a buzzer-beater at Ohio State, and didn't give up their winning streak easily after trailing by as much as 15 points. They went on an 11-2 run to pull within six points with 37 seconds left after Tony Carr made consecutive 3-pointers in 6 seconds. Carr just missed a 3-pointer with 19 seconds.

"We played really good basketball for a long time," Chambers said. "We got into foul trouble. ... I'd like to see our five versus their five for a longer time. I think Michigan State knows we're a pretty good basketball team and we'd fight."

Joshua Langford made two free throws to seal the victory and finished with 14 points.

Carr scored 28, giving him at least 25 points for the seventh time this season.

"One of the best players on the floor, for sure," Chambers said.

Quiet night
Michigan State freshman Jaren Jackson is projected to be one of the top picks in the NBA draft this summer, but foul trouble is limiting his production in college. Jackson was held to two points, ending an 11-game streak in double digits. He played just seven minutes in the first half because he had two fouls and picked up his third foul 1:06 into the second half, leading to him playing just 12 minutes.

Big picture
Penn State: Carr is showing he can make shots all over the court no matter who he's facing, but the Nittany Lions have to give him more help. Lamar Stevens, who had 18 points, was his only teammate in double figures. Entering the game, the Nittany Lions had five players averaging at least 10 points a game.

"We've got to get Shep (Garner) more shots," Chambers said. "I was trying to, but they played very good defense on him."

Carr had 28 points in last week's win at Ohio State and is averaging 19-plus points a game even though every team is trying to slow him down.

Michigan State: The crisis on campus related to Larry Nassar and an ESPN report isn't going away and the Spartans know it. Izzo wore a teal ribbon on the left lapel of his suit and his players wore the same ribbon over their hearts on their pullovers, honoring survivors of sexual violence.

"Wearing the ribbon was our way to reaching out to them," Izzo said .

Nassar, a former doctor at the school, has been sentenced to decades in prison for sexually abusing young girls and women. ESPN has detailed various allegations involving Michigan State football and basketball players, putting Izzo in awkward situations during postgame news conferences.

"I will cooperate with the investigation and I always have with any investigation," he said, repeating a scripted statement he has said after recent games. "I think there will be a time when I'll be able to speak, but it isn't right now. There's too many things going on with the survivors and everything. I'm just going to stick to my guns and tell you that I still have great support for the survivors, but I'm just not going to have any comment on this whole situation."

Up next
Penn State: Hosts Iowa on Saturday night.

Michigan State: Plays at Indiana on Saturday night, one of five road games in a seven-game stretch to close the regular season.