Penn State falls for 1st time this season to No. 16 Texas A&M

ap-psu-lamar-stevens.jpg
AP Images

Penn State falls for 1st time this season to No. 16 Texas A&M

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK -- Without prompting, Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy and Robert Williams and Duane Wilson took turns speaking about the long term aspirations for the Aggies.

The words they used were `'special" and "March."

No false modesty here. The 16th-ranked Aggies know they're good and have set their sights on the NCAA Tournament, facts that they unequivocally reiterated after a 98-87 victory over Penn State in the championship game of the Progressive Legends Classic on Tuesday night at Barclays Center.

"It shows we're capable of doing something special," Kennedy said.

Indeed.

All it takes is a brief glance at the final stat sheet to support his argument. Five Aggies finished in double figures. Williams finished with 21 points and nine rebounds. Wilson led the Aggies (4-0) with 22 points while Tyler Davis chipped in 15, Admon Gilder had 14 and Tonny Torcha-Morelos finished with 11.

"We're deep. We're talented. We can make special plays," said Kennedy, who later added, "We have a deep team. We have a lot of guys.

"We have a lot of weapons."

A fact which wasn't lost on Penn State coach Pat Chambers.

Despite getting a career-high 31 points from Tony Carr, Penn State (5-1) lost its first game of the season. Lamar Stevens added 25 points for Penn State.

"Our halfcourt defense, specifically our ball screen defense has to be better," said Chambers, who jabbed the table with his fingers for emphasis. "If you told me (DJ Hogg) was only going to have seven (points) and we scored 87, I'd (have) thought we'd be sitting here with a win."

The Aggies took a 42-40 lead into halftime due to Williams' two-hand follow jam with 4 seconds left in the half. Seven of the eight players who got into the game in the first half for Texas A&M scored, led by Williams' 12.

And the Aggies needed every point, as Carr was a one-man offensive onslaught for the Nittany Lions. Carr had 21 points in the opening half on 7-of-8 shooting including 2 for 2 from 3-point range. He made 5 of 6 free throws.

Texas A&M took a 63-51 lead on Wilson's scoop layup 6:41 into the second half. Wilson's layup was the culmination of a stretch in which the Aggies outscored the Nittany Lions 21-11.

Following Wilson's layup, Chambers called time out. DJ Hogg hit a 3 for the Aggies, Gilder made two free throws and Williams finished a 2-on-1 break with a two-handed jam off an alley-oop pass which pushed the lead to 70-53.

"Give Texas A&M credit. They jumped us," Chambers said. "They got to a big lead."

Penn State used an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to 70-61.

After a layup by Gilder pushed the lead to 72-61, the Nittany Lions scored the next five points on a layup by Carr and three free throws from Stevens. That was as close as they would get.

"Keep your composure at the end," Williams said. "Don't lose it."

Williams was named tournament MVP, and was joined on the all-tournament team by Wilson, Carr, Stevens and Oklahoma State's Jeffrey Carroll.

Big picture
Penn State: The positive for Penn State is that Carr and Stevens combined for 56 points. The negative? The rest of the Nittany Lions totaled 31.

Texas A&M: The defensively stout Aggies were able to flex their offensive muscle against Penn State. Texas A&M made 33 of 54 shots (61 percent) from the field and knocked down 26 of 29 (89.7 percent) free throws.

Notable
Penn State: In the Chambers Era, the Nittany Lions are 4-3 all-time in games played in New York City, and 2-2 at games held at Barclays Center.

Texas A&M: The Aggies improved to 4-0 all-time against the Nittany Lions. Texas A&M is 2-0 at neutral site venues against Penn State.

Up next
Penn State: Hosts Oral Roberts on Friday.

Texas A&M: Hosts Pepperdine on Friday.

Penn State's balanced attack wallops Pitt in Progressive Legends Classic

usa-penn-state-basketball.jpg
USA Today Images

Penn State's balanced attack wallops Pitt in Progressive Legends Classic

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK -- Pat Chambers' message to his team could have been distilled to two words: Just. Play.

"I go back to the term `mental conditioning,'" Chambers said after Penn State's 85-54- rout of Pittsburgh Monday night in the second game of the Progressive Legends Classic."

"We have to win the next possession and the next possession. Don't even look at the score. I'm trying to teach them how to be an elite team," Chambers said. "Big 10 teams that are elite take care of business and I felt we did that in the second half."

Tony Carr scored 16 points to lead six Nittany Lions in double figure scoring. Mike Watkins and Shep Garner had 13 apiece, while Lamar Stevens, Josh Reaves and Nazeer Bostick each scored 10 for Penn State (5-0).

"I'm proud of my team. We were dialed in and focused," Chambers said.

While there was precious little for Chambers to criticize, Pitt (1-3) coach Kevin Stallings was stunned at what had transpired.

"It was a little bit shocking to me," Stallings said. "I didn't have our guys ready to play like I thought I did."

Jared Wilson-Frame led the Panthers with 17 points.

Despite the lopsided nature of the game, it was neither the biggest win in Penn State history nor was it the worst loss ever for Pittsburgh. The Nittany Lions' largest margin of victory was 74, in an 86-12 win over Susquehanna on Jan. 25, 1919, while Pittsburgh dropped a program-worst 106-13 decision to Westminster on Feb. 24, 1906.

Penn State's largest margin of victory against Pittsburgh was 84-44 on Jan. 14, 1967.

"We got punched right at the start of the game and we just didn't respond," Stallings said. "They just got into such a rhythm at the beginning of the game offensively that they played (in) a complete comfort zone and we never did anything to take them out of there."

Garner's opened the game with a 3-point jumper and Nittany Lions never trailed. Carr knocked down a straightaway 3 to make it 47-21 at the break. Bostick threw down a breakaway one-handed jam and Garner drilled another 3 to push the lead to 63-29.

"Our approach was: Win every possession. Every possession matters," Chambers said.

Big picture
Penn State: It may be a fun winter in Happy Valley, and not just because of the nationally ranked football team. Penn State has returned 80.8 percent of its scoring, 87.8 percent of its rebounding and 81.8 percent of its assists from last season.

Pitt: By comparison, it is likely a good thing Pittsburgh has the Stanley Cup Champion Penguins and the possible Super Bowl contender Steelers, because it may be a long season for Panthers fans. Pitt's roster has players who combined for three starts and 648 minutes in 2016-17.

Notable
Penn State: Penn State improved to 76-72 all-time against Pitt. The Nittany Lions snapped a seven-game losing streak to their in-state rivals.

Pitt: Jared Wilson-Frame's 17 points marked the third straight game he finished in double figure scoring.

In attendance: Stephen Curry arrived midway through the second half of the game. The Golden State Warriors star saw Penn State outscore Pittsburgh, 31-25.

Up next
Penn State: Will play No. 16 Texas A&M in the championship game on Tuesday.

Pitt: Will play Oklahoma State in the consolation game on Tuesday.

Undermanned Penn State cruises past Columbia at home

uspresswire-psu-shep-garner.jpg
USA Today Images

Undermanned Penn State cruises past Columbia at home

BOX SCORE

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Shep Garner scored 18 of his 26 points in the first half and Penn State beat Columbia 79-65 on Friday.

Lamar Stevens added 14 points and Mike Watkins had 11 points and 14 rebounds for the Nittany Lions (4-0) who played without starting guards Tony Carr and Josh Reaves.

Garner was 10 of 18 from the floor with five 3-pointers.

Mike Smith led Columbia with 18 points while Quinton Adlesh and Nate Hickman added 11 apiece for the Lions (1-2).

Penn State led for all but 4:52 and by as many as 14 midway through the first half. Columbia chipped away to cut the halftime deficit to 38-35 but the Nittany Lions opened the second half with a 13-5 run over the first 4:14 to take control.

Carr sat out with a sprained ankle he suffered on Wednesday while Reaves was out for an undisclosed reason.

Big picture
Columbia: The Lions need to do everything better if they want to compete in the Ivy League. Columbia hasn't won back-to-back games since Jan. 27-28 last season. The Lions won two in a row just twice a year ago when they went 5-9 in conference play.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions' depth was tested for the first time this season with Carr and Reaves unable to play. Nazeer Bostick and Jamari Wheeler played well in their places and Satchel Pierce has been tough to play against down low with Watkins in early foul trouble.

Up next
Columbia: Travels to Army on Tuesday.

Penn State: Plays Pittsburgh in the Legends Classic at the Barclays center in New York on Monday.