Penn State dominates Mississippi State to reach NIT title game

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Penn State dominates Mississippi State to reach NIT title game

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK -- Nearly a month after Penn State was bounced out of the Big Ten Tournament, the Nittany Lions are back at Madison Square Garden with another chance to win a championship.

Tony Carr scored 21 points, Shep Garner added 18 while breaking the school record for career 3-pointers and Penn State routed Mississippi State 75-60 in the National Invitation Tournament semifinals Tuesday night.

"Of course we were a little disappointed not to make the (NCAA) Tournament, but we made another goal," Garner said. "We saw we were in the NIT and our goal was to get to New York and win it. That's what everyone wants to do. We put ourselves in position to do so."

The fourth-seeded Nittany Lions (25-13) will play No. 2 seed Utah for the title Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

After the score was tied 9-all, Penn State ended the first quarter on a 9-2 run. From there, the Nittany Lions opened the second with a 19-0 spurt capped by Garner's 3 off an assist from Carr to make it 37-11.

With football coach James Franklin cheering from the stands, Penn State went up 42-23 at halftime and led by as many as 27.

Mississippi State (25-12) wasn't able to get within 20 again until there was 7:56 left in the game. Abdul Ado's dunk made it 65-47, but that was the closest the Bulldogs got before the waning moments.

"We were really impatient," Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said. "Once we started falling behind, we got anxious and we were shooting quick. Quick, bad shots and it just like, snowballed."

Tyson Carter scored 19 points off the bench to lead No. 4 seed Mississippi State. Ado had 13 points and seven rebounds.

Lamar Stevens scored 17 for Penn State, which shot 11 of 20 from 3-point territory. Carr had six assists and five rebounds.

Big picture
Penn State: While the Nittany Lions would have preferred to play in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011, they made the NIT for the first time under seventh-year coach Pat Chambers. Penn State's last trip to the NIT title game was in 2009, when it beat Baylor for the crown. The school's only other appearance in the final was a loss to Minnesota in 1998.

Mississippi State: With just one senior on the roster, the Bulldogs will return most of their team and have something positive to build off as they try to move up the rankings in the rugged SEC next season.

Record producer
With his six 3-pointers, Garner broke Penn State's record for 3s in an NIT along with the school mark of 332 held by Pete Lisicky (1995-98). Garner also had six 3s in the Big Ten Tournament semifinal loss to Purdue, giving him 12 in his last two games at Madison Square Garden and 334 for his career.

"They say the record is an individual record, but I've had a lot of teammates that had a lot to do with the record," Garner said. "A lot of people that set screens for me to get me open, break passes to them, they put it right on the button for me and I just finish the job. That's a team record. It's a lot of people that had stuff to do with it. I tip my hat to my teammates and my coaches to put me in a position to do something special like that."

Up next
Penn State: Will try to win the second NIT championship in school history when it faces Utah (23-11), which beat Western Kentucky 69-64 in the first semifinal.

Mississippi State: Starts preparing for a promising 2018-19 season.

Former Penn State, NFL DT Brandon Noble takes his turn to help amid coronavirus outbreak

Former Penn State, NFL DT Brandon Noble takes his turn to help amid coronavirus outbreak

Former Penn State and NFL defensive tackle Brandon Noble is taking the lessons he learned during his football career and applying them to the fight against the coronavirus. Noble, who owns the Bright Spot Cafe in Exton, Pennsylvania, along with his partners Tommy and Shannon Brower, is delivering meals to healthcare workers at various hospitals.

The idea originated from a phone call and took on a life of its own.

"A friend of Tommy called and asked if we could put together a lunch for the nurses at Paoli Hospital," Noble said in an interview Monday with NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Clark. "This guy had a friend who worked there and he just wanted to send them a meal. So we did it, we took it down there and we saw the appreciation from the staff at the hospital that they had a hot meal individually packaged and rolled up to the door for them.

"You can just see it in their eyes because everyone is obviously wearing masks now. It kind of snowballed from there, people are calling us, reaching out to us and they're asking to buy meals for different hospitals and wings of different departments. It's really cool."

Noble and his partners have delivered about 2,000 meals over the last two weeks. He's urging people to get involved and donate money and meals by visiting his restaurant's website — brightspotexton.com. The restaurant is matching all donations in an effort to support and feed as many healthcare workers as possible.

"Playing football for as long as I did, I've had plenty of surgeries, I've had the health issues, I've been in the hospital," Noble said. "I understand how important these people are and right now they're under a lot of stress. There's a lot going on, they're laying it on the line every day for the rest of us. So going in and helping them out, absolutely it feels good. One thing about this country, the people here, we take care of each other."

Noble pointed to one health scare in particular from his playing career that greatly impacted his view of doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers. 

"I was one of the first guys in the NFL to get MRSA back in 2004," Noble said. "I had a routine operation and I woke up a few days later and I had this really bad hot spot in my knee and it kind of escalated from there. I ended up being unconscious in my living room during my daughter's 2nd birthday party. My mother-in-law is a nurse and she told my wife to take me to the hospital. They rolled me into the emergency room and the doctors told us if we had waited another 12 hours I would have lost my leg and I might have died.

"I spent 10 days in the hospital getting taken care of. I was a professional athlete, a football player, 6-foot-2 and 320 pounds and I couldn't walk without help. Those people kept me alive. So I have a tremendous amount of respect for them and what they do. They're taking care of people who are scared, who are hurt, who are in a bit of an unknown situation right now."

Noble lives in Chester Springs and is the defensive coordinator at Downingtown East High School. He's teaching his players the same lessons about football he learned long ago, lessons that led him to take action during these uncertain times. 

"Football is one of those great places where there are people from all over, from all socioeconomic backgrounds, all sorts of family backgrounds, different geographic locations," Noble said. "You're all thrown into this room and you're told that you're going to win or lose depending on the guy next to you. How can you help that guy? How can you be there when it's your turn to help? 

"That's what football is all about. It's a great team sport, the best team sport. It teaches those of us who play it and coach it that's it all about the guy next to you. If you love the guy next to you and he loves you, you're going forward and great things will happen." 

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No. 21 Penn State beats No. 23 Iowa at packed Palestra

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USA Today Images/Bill Streicher

No. 21 Penn State beats No. 23 Iowa at packed Palestra

BOX SCORE

Izaiah Brockington scored 23 points to lead No. 21 Penn State to its fifth straight win, 89-86 over No. 23 Iowa on Saturday at the Palestra.

Luka Garza scored 34 points for the Hawkeyes (10-4, 1-2 Big Ten), but he missed three crucial free throws down the stretch that helped the Nittany Lions win in front of a raucous home crowd on Philly's most famous court. Garza, who scored 44 points last month at Michigan, scored 12 straight points in one stretch in the first half but missed two foul shots with 3:21 left in the game and Iowa clinging to a two-point lead.

Curtis Jones put Penn State in front with a 3-pointer that rocked the building. Garza went 1 of 2 from the line to even the score at 79-all, but Mike Watkins delivered for PSU with a go-ahead dunk. Penn State forced a turnover and Lamar Stevens sealed it with a late layup.

Stevens and Myreon Jones each scored 16 points for the Nittany Lions (12-2, 2-1).

Penn State coach Pat Chambers might finally have a team he can take to the NCAA Tournament in his ninth season.

Penn State might want to petition to play all its Big Ten games at the Palestra. The Nittany Lions got the best of Iowa and coach Fran McCaffery, a former Penn standout who played home games at the Palestra.

Penn State barely averaged an announced attendance of 10,000 fans last season at its on-campus arena, the Bryce Jordan Center. But 193 miles down the road at the Palestra, the heart of Philly hoops, the steamy gym was packed. Tickets on the secondary market were going for $150 a seat in the corners - or, "Corners! as its known when the Palestra is sold out -- and fans arrived early to walk the concourse that serves as much as a hall of fame as it does a stop for a $4 hot dog.

Walk past the pictures of Kobe Bryant and Wilt Chamberlain in their high school uniforms, and there's a photo of McCaffery in his No. 23 Penn jersey. The caption read, "Fran McCafferty, 1979-82, was integral in three Ivy League Championship titles for the Quakers." McCaffery walked in the same concourse doors Saturday as fans and fist-bumped a row of black-and-gold wearing supporters. Yes, even an Ivy League school can't ace spelling -- there's no T in McCaffery -- and McCaffery left with another unwanted letter: an L.

Penn State alumni roared "We Are!" from the opening tip and the Palestra decibel meter hit 11 when the Nittany Lions seemed poised to break the game open. Seth Lundy and Myles Dread hit 3s, Stevens turned a steal into a fast-break layup and another Penn State steal ended with a Stevens dunk and a 35-27 lead. Iowa collected itself and Dread's jumper to end the half gave the Hawkeyes a 39-38 lead.

Stevens sparked the idea of PSU making a return trip to Palestra. A graduate of Philadelphia's Roman Catholic High School, Stevens badgered Chambers about playing a game at the Palestra before his career ended. He surely could not have imagined a showdown between two nationally ranked teams going basket-for-basket in front of a packed house once Iowa agreed to play in Philly.

Big picture

Iowa: The Hawkeyes can only hope this kind of loss won't cost them an NCAA Tournament bid.

Penn State: Penn State played its first game as a ranked team against a ranked team for the first time since 1996. Chambers found little success over his first eight seasons, and has failed to lead the program to the NCAA Tournament. But powered by a deep, veteran roster, the Nittany Lions cracked the Top 25 this season for the first time since March 1996.

Up next

Iowa plays Tuesday at Nebraska.

Penn State plays Tuesday at Rutgers.